Everyone has bad habits. But some other under-the-radar tendencies can end up sabotaging your financial health, and you may not even realize it.
1. You shop with friends
Shopaholics are typically portrayed by women in popular culture. But at least in one respect, men can out-shop women. A 2011 study, “The Influence of Friends on Consumer Spending,” found that men spend more when they’re accompanied by a friend than when they’re alone, and the effect wasn’t the same for women. Men focus on status and “engage in self-promotion through increased spending while shopping with friends” – in other words, they tend to show off – whereas women are “communion-oriented,” meaning they aim for cooperation and harmony, “leading them to keep their spending under control in the presence of a friend.”
2. You fall for complicated cellphone contracts
The problem: Many people underestimate how much data they’ll use and end up exceeding their plan limit, while others overestimate their future usage and pay for minutes they never use.
3. You’ve got a credit mindset
Studies going back to 2001 have shown that consumers spend more when using credit cards compared to buying with cash. Time after time they show that people are more comfortable paying more for something when they can charge it.
4. You have multiple bank accounts
Experts say it makes it seem like you’ve got more funds available than you actually do. Having a single account – and one number reflecting your total wealth – makes it harder to justify your spending.
5. You divide your money into buckets
People tend to separate their money into categories, often based on where the money came from and what its intended use is – this much is for the house, this much for the kids’ college tuition, this much for movies, etc. In behavioral finance parlance, this is called mental accounting – and can make us act irrationally.