10 bad banking habits you should stop now

These 10 day-to-day 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, knowing where to start may have you stumped.

The first step? Identifying your questionable day-to-day banking and bad spending habits and kicking 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 will have you moving towards a stronger financial position in no time.

Here are 10 bad money 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 charges each month? Ignoring your day to day banking charges is an easy bad money management habit to fall into, and one that can chip away at your savings every day.

If you chose a bank account package that offers more services than you actually use, like free cheque orders or waived bank draft fees, you could be paying a monthly fee for everyday banking services you just  don’t need. Or if you routinely withdraw cash or use your debit card for purchases, you could get charged extra for additional transactions above your bank account limit. 

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. And 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.

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, today’s technology lets you download a spending tracker app right to your smartphone to see exactly where your money goes, making it easier to see the impact of those little purchases.

3. Not budgeting

Learning how to save money starts with identifying your spending patterns. 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 apply extra savings to it 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 budget to pay down as much as you can monthly until the balance gets paid off. Paying down credit card debt should be prioritized over saving money and building an emergency fund, so make sure to pay off as much of your credit card balance as possible each month.

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 all too easy to overspend. Stop impulse buying by leaving your credit card at home. Set spending alerts for your credit card to help 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 services charges you weren’t expecting.

Break this bad habit by improving your money management and budgeting ahead of time to avoid taking multiple cash advances. And if you do need cash, plan ahead to withdraw from your financial institution’s bank machine to minimize or avoid those fees altogether.

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 newspapers? 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 become aware of your spending, it can notify you of suspicious activity on your accounts.

10. Avoiding financial planning

Like many negative money habits, avoiding financial planning is an easy habit to fall into yet it has long-term negative financial implications. Replace this bad habit with a good one - making a financial plan.

Don’t let the phrase “financial plan” intimidate you. Instead, break it down into a few easy steps:

  1. Think of one financial goal you’d like to meet in the next year, such as paying off a credit card or starting an RRSP.
  2. Think of a five-year-goal, such as paying off your student loans, buying a home, or maybe paying off your mortgage.
  3. Identify a long-term financial goal for ten-to-twenty years from now.

Creating those buckets  helps organize your financial goals in terms of what you can do right away and reduce the stress of things you might not need to tackle immediately. Find an advisor and book a financial planning appointment to set up a plan to meet those goals you identified.

Breaking your go-to financial routines does take time and effort. However, subbing in habits like paying bills on time, using technology to track spending, increase your income and savings, and improve your bottom will be worth the work in the long run.

By adjusting your spending habits, recognizing your financial patterns, and changing your overall mentality about finances, your wallet worries and bank account blues will soon get replaced by feelings of accomplishment and happiness.