10 bad banking habits you should stop now

Summary: These 10 bad banking habits could cost you money. Replace them with these simple good habits and you could soon improve your financial position.

If you’re bad with money, I have good news. It’s never too late to change the way you approach your finances. However, it can be difficult to know where to start.

The first step? Identify your bad banking and spending habits and kick them to the curb. Then, you can start creating good spending habits to help control your finances and stop living paycheque to paycheque.

That one-two punch of breaking bad financial habits and replacing them with good ones can help improve your financial position in no time.

Here are 10 bad banking habits to stop – and what you should start doing instead.

1. Sticking with the wrong day-to-day bank account

How much do you pay in bank fees every month? How much interest do you earn on the money you keep in your account? Ignoring your day-to-day banking fees and interest rate is an easy bad money management habit to fall into, and one that can chip away at your savings.

If your bank account offers more services than you actually use, like free cheque orders or waived bank draft fees, you could be paying more for banking than you need to. Or, if you routinely withdraw cash or use your debit card for purchases, you might be getting charged extra for additional transactions above your account limit. 

And, if your account pays little or no interest, that's costing you money too.

Luckily, there is an easy fix. Replace the wrong bank account with the right one. Review your service charges and transactions on your three most recent bank statements. If you’re getting charged for services you don’t need, switch to a more basic bank account. If you’re getting charged for extra transactions, switch to a bank account that offers a flat rate OR waived transaction fees for keeping a basic balance in the account. And, if your account doesn't pay you a decent rate of interest, find one that does.

Many banks make you choose between a great interest rate, no fees, and the ability to bank your way. With the Advantage Account, you get it all. Here are four things you might not know about the Advantage Account.

4 things you didn't know about your Advantage Account - Manulife Bank

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2. Not tracking your spending

Where does your money go each day? Those seemingly insignificant purchases can add up.

Not tracking your spending leads to “leaky” cash flow. Fortunately, there are lots of spending-tracking apps available for your smartphone to help you see exactly where your money goes. This will make it easier to see the impact of those little purchases.

3. Not budgeting

Learning how to save money starts with planning your spending. And if “not budgeting” best describes your monthly spending pattern, it’s time to get rid of that bad financial habit. Budgeting helps reframe your spending according to your household income, but it’s important to find a budgeting style that works for you.

There are many different ways to budget, like the envelope method, a simple spreadsheet, or using a budgeting app, each of which show how much money you have available compared to your monthly expenses.

4. Not building emergency savings

Don’t get caught trying to pay for an unexpected expense with money you don’t have. Without emergency savings, you could end up paying a high rate of interest to access funds through an expensive credit card cash advance or payday loan.

Instead, add an emergency savings category to your new monthly budget and add money to it every month until you have at least three to six months of living expenses covered.

5. Only making minimum payments

One of the most expensive financial bad habits you could have is making only the minimum payments on your credit cards or credit line. While making a minimum credit card payment can get you over a temporary budget issue, in the long run your finances suffer because you don’t pay off much (or any) of your original balance.

Instead, identify the credit card or line with the highest rate of interest. Then plan to pay down as much as you can every month until the balance gets paid off. Because credit card interest can cost so much, you should prioritize paying down credit card debt over saving money and building an emergency fund.

6. Overspending on your credit card

Although they offer a fast and simple way to pay for most goods and services, credit cards make it easy to overspend. If you're the kind of person who makes impulse purchases, try leaving your credit card at home when you're not planning to buy anything. You can also set spending alerts using the online banking services your credit card provider offers. This helps avoid overspending on your credit card and keeps you within your budget.

7. Paying unnecessary bank machine fees

Here’s a day-to-day banking no-no that you might not think of: making withdrawals at bank machines from other banks. This is one of those bad money habits that sneaks up on you, resulting in additional service charges you weren’t expecting.

Break this bad habit by planning ahead to avoid having to make multiple cash withdrawals. And when you do need cash, withdraw from your financial institution’s bank machine to minimize or avoid those fees altogether. Manulife Bank customers have access to one of Canada's largest network of ATMs.

8. Auto-payments for subscriptions you don’t use

When you’re working on saving money, start by reviewing your digital, online, and print subscriptions. Are you paying for services you don’t use, such as gym memberships, magazines, cable TV, or streaming services? Cancel them and redirect that money to paying down your debt or building your emergency savings.

9. Ignoring your balances and due dates

It’s all too easy to avoid reviewing your bank account, loan, and credit card statements and payment due dates. However, these negative money habits can get expensive, especially if they lead to overdraft charges, NSF charges, late charges, or if they start negatively impacting your credit score.

Instead, use mobile banking to stay on top of your financial activity and account balances.

Most banking apps let you set alerts to notify you when your account balances are approaching their limits. This not only helps you keep track of your spending, it can notify you of suspicious activity on your accounts.

10. Trying to do it all yourself

Most of us aren't financial experts. Trying to find the right banking products and effectively manage your finances can be time-consuming and intimidating. As a result, you may delay or avoid taking the steps needed to improve your finances. Replace this bad habit with a good one - working with an advisor to create a financial plan.

An advisor can help you define your financial goals and set up accounts and strategies to get you on the right path. Find an advisor and book a financial planning appointment to set up a plan to meet those goals you identified.

Breaking bad banking habits takes time and effort. However, starting new habits like getting the right account, tracking your spending and working with an advisor can save you money and set you on a better financial path.