Smoking, alcohol, chocolate, even Facebook—these are all common things that Americans give up for Lent, which started on Feb. 14 and runs through March 29.
Forty days without your vice of choice demonstrates admirable willpower. But chances are that when Easter Sunday rolls around, you’ll find yourself elbow-deep in a bag of Hershey’s or enjoying one too many glasses of bourbon (neat, of course).
Similar to those long-forgotten New Year’s resolutions, our “good” behavior rarely lasts once Lent is over.
It’s because we give up things that don’t affect us that deeply. Sure, never eating chocolate again might keep your waistline slimmer. And logging off of social media might free up more time to finally join that book club. But let’s be honest—for the most part, those are wants, not needs.
So this year, focus on something you actually need: financial freedom.
Here are five of the worst money habits you might be guilty of—including some you might not even know you’re making. Give one (or all) of these up over the next 40 days.
Trust me, your wallet will thank you.
Waiting To Have More Money Before You Invest
Anyone can be an investor, no matter how much (or how little) you have in your bank account. And the longer you wait, the more you miss out on compounding, which can grow your original investment exponentially. Just look at the chart below.
Not Setting Goals
You want to save for retirement. That’s great—but it’s also very vague. How much do you want to have saved by the time you’re 55? 65? 75? How much will you put aside every year? The more specific your goals, the easier it is to create a plan that will help you achieve them.
If you’re all too familiar with buyer’s remorse (you know, that sinking feeling in your gut after you blow too much money on a new set of golf clubs you definitely didn’t need), it may be time to reevaluate your spending. Habits like setting a budget or paying with cash can help keep serial swiping in check.
Relying On Your Credit Card
Credit cards are great when making big purchases like a new 4K TV or a weekend trip to Naples. But if you’re carrying a balance month after month (hello, 15% interest!) or frequently able to make only the minimum payment, you’re living beyond your means… and on the fast track to serious debt.
Ignoring Your 401(K)
Would you turn down free money? Well, you are if you aren’t contributing to your employer’s retirement plan. After all, most companies match employee contributions up to a certain amount, so even if you can’t afford to set a lot aside, any amount is better than nothing.
Hopefully, these new habits will stick—and I have no doubt they will after you realize how beneficial they are to your financial health.
But even if they don’t—even if you go back to not-so-savvy saving—at least you gave it a shot… and you got to enjoy copious amounts of chocolate and booze along the way.