Dave Ramsey Says ‘Money Is Not Just Math, It’s Behavior’ — 5 Bad Habits to Break Today

Dave Ramsey bankruptcy
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Although it’s easy to blame our money woes on outside economic forces, healthy personal finances are governed by motivation and mindset. Fixing your current situation means taking responsibility about your financial decisions and making conscious choices because, as financial advisor and popular radio show and podcast host Dave Ramsey says, “Money is not just about math; it’s about behavior.”

“Personal finance is only 20 percent head knowledge,” Ramsey tweeted yesterday. “The other 80 percent — the bulk of the issue — is behavior. And it’s our behaviors with money that can get us into the biggest trouble or lead us into the biggest successes.”

Backing up her father’s viewpoint, Ramsey Show co-host Rachel Cruze stated, “If you want to get to the root of why you behave the way you do — why you spend, save, use debt, put off investing and more — you’ve got to learn about how the psychology of money affects you.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Of course, every personal financial situation depends on a number of factors — what you earn and owe, your cost of living and your financial goals — but bad spending and saving behaviors are common to all and can be broken by practicing better self-discipline with your money.

Here are five bad saving and spending habits that you can start to break today:

1. Curbing Discretionary Spending

The gap between living and living well is narrowing all the time. With life’s essentials costing more than ever and savings and paying off debt more important than ever, non-essentials, or wants, need to take the hit.

Even in the best of economic times, you should be focusing on trimming your discretionary spending on things like entertainment, hobbies and leisure and travel expenses. Resisting impulse buys and discounts and getting rid of any unused streaming platforms and meal delivery services will leave you with more money to save, pay off debt and invest. Pause before buying anything non-essential and you will find that most discretionary expenses can wait.

2. Bad Budgeting

Whether you use a 50-30-20 rule or ruthlessly track every penny that comes and goes, it’s essential to make a budget, stick to it and review it regularly so that you can control short-term expenses and meet long-term needs.

Make Your Money Work for You

A small change like a hike in your insurance rate can funnel funds away from other pressing obligations. So, picking a system and monitoring it frequently is essential to give you a clear idea of your goals and how to achieve them.

3. Not Saving for the Future

The constant pressure to spend can create bad money habits and derail your financial future. While “living in the moment,” is a noble intent, doing so can damage all the future moments that life brings.

We’re always confronted with the choice between spending and saving and we always will be, but making smarter decisions now will benefit you and your loved ones immensely in the future.

Taking little steps like automating a portion of your pay to a savings account, cutting costs where possible, supplementing your income and funding a retirement account will ensure that there is money available for big future expenses like buying a home, putting your children through college or simply enjoying retirement.

Make Your Money Work for You

4. Avoiding Emergency Fund Saving

For money experts like Ramsey, who preaches foundational wealth building based on saving and staying debt free, any money that would normally go to discretionary purchases should go toward paying off debt and building an emergency fund.

Most experts believe you should have enough money in your emergency fund to cover at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Some believe that you should strive for a nine month emergency nest-egg, given the current economic climate. Regardless, start by estimating your costs for critical expenses (what you would need in the event of a job loss or major catastrophe), then expand it if necessary. The important thing is that you’ve started saving something.  

5. Relying on Credit Cards

As credit card rates and spending increased last year, average credit card balances increased by 13.2% to an average balance of $5,910 in 2022, according to Experian. Total credit card balances grew by $125 billion to end the third quarter of 2022 at $910 billion.

Everyone knows credit cards are traps. Useful in some instances, but traps, nonetheless. To get out from under card debt takes restraint but it can be done if you reign in your use, pay more than the minimum and use your budget to regulate purchases placed on credit cards.

Make Your Money Work for You

Just like better nutrition and exercise will improve your health, there is no downside to advancing your personal finances through smarter spending and saving behaviors. It’s up to you to change your behaviors and break those bad habits sooner rather than later.

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