If you want to get rich in 2018, try taking advice from those who have already done it. There are certain wealth-building habits that successful people swear by.
And it's just as important to avoid toxic behaviors that can derail your finances.
If you're looking to make major financial strides in 2018, start by ditching these costly habits.
There's more to late payments than simply paying a fee. Missing payments can also lower your credit score, which affects your ability to borrow money for bigger purchases, like a home or car in the near future.
Never miss a bill again by setting up automatic payments online for fixed costs such as cable, internet, and insurance. For expenses that can't be paid online, such as rent, set up calendar reminders and pay them at the same time each month so it becomes routine.
Most credit cards only require you to pay 1 percent to 3 percent of your balance each month. Paying the minimum can be a tempting option, especially if your budget is tight, but it will cost you a fortune in interest in the long run.
In 2018, get in the habit of making payments in full. The easiest way to do that? Arrange to transfer the full amount of money you owe from your checking account to your credit card company every month.
Time is on your side when it comes to investing, thanks to the power of compound interest. And contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be a personal finance expert or even earn a massive paycheck to get started.
Enrolling in your employer's 401(k) plan, a Roth IRA or traditional IRA — a tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts that allow you to build wealth over time — is one of the simplest ways to invest.
There are also apps that aim to make investing simple and accessible, such as Acorns, which lets you invest your "spare change," and you can look into automated investing services known as robo-advisors.
The key takeaway: Don't wait. Even if you can't invest a ton of money, establish the habit of setting aside at least a little bit each month. Whenever you get a pay bump or bonus, reevaluate how much money you can realistically set aside.
Money won't just appear. If you want to save more, you have to have a clear goal and then set a specific plan in order to achieve it.
Finally, set up a recurring automatic transfer from your bank account to your savings account to ensure you'll stay consistent with your savings.
If you're spending as much as, or more than, you're earning, you're living paycheck to paycheck, which can easily spiral into credit card debt. That lifestyle makes it nearly impossible to build up significant savings.
The solution: Live below your means — not at or beyond.
Once you set up a retirement savings account, keep your hands off of it.
Besides facing fees — most traditional IRA withdrawals made before age 59 1/2 incur taxes and a penalty — you're putting your financial future at risk by preventing your retirement savings from growing over time.
The same rule applies to your emergency fund: Don't touch it unless you're facing a true disaster. To create a mental and logistical barrier between you and this money, move it into a separate account, such as a high-interest savings account or a money-market account, which both offer higher interest rates than a traditional savings account.
Whether it's calling an Uber, stopping by the bodega around the corner every morning or picking up a soda while waiting in the checkout line, it's all too easy to spend mindlessly.
It's good to be optimistic, but you also have to be responsible and plan for the worst. Just one accident can wipe out your savings.
If not, add it to your 2018 to-do list.
All debt is not created equal. An effective strategy is to rank your obligations in order of interest rate, from highest to lowest. Then, prioritize the debt with the highest interest rate, while still paying the minimum on all of them, in order to pay less over the long run.
There is an alternate option, too: Rank your debt in order of size and start with the smallest. It's a strategy that personal finance expert Dave Ramsey calls the "snowball method." The idea is that each time you pay off one form of debt, you build momentum, which helps you tackle the next biggest, and so on.
No matter the approach you choose, commit to getting out of the red this year.
As much as you may want to ignore financial red flags, you're better off dealing with any issues right away.
Check your bank account and credit score, no matter how low you fear the number may be. Don't leave your debt for tomorrow. And take advantage of work perks and benefits, which could save you thousands of dollars a year.
You don't need to have all this perfect right away. But ridding yourself of bad habits now will pay dividends for the rest of your life.
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