The last quarter is a good time to change some bad financial behaviors

Personal Finance

You know you could do better, but you don’t know where to start.

As we enter the last quarter of the year, it’s time to turn things around.

During the year, you bought items with rebates – but never filled out the rebate forms. You splurged on impulse items at the grocery store. You signed up for trial services, promising to cancel them when the initial period ended – but you forgot. You fell victim to mobile payment apps, and not a week goes by without buying a barista coffee. You lost your cool at Costco and bought things in bulk you either didn’t need or that expired before you could use them.

The top bad financial habit, according to Sean Kelly, a certified financial planner at PNC Wealth Management, is broader in scope: not having a budget or emergency fund.

One-quarter of Americans, or 55 million people, have nothing saved for an emergency. Only about a third of households have a monthly budget, according to a Gallup poll.

These two factors can have a daily impact on your money, because they give you a rudder to steer and an umbrella for unexpected expenses.

Call it the “Starbucks Effect,” if you like. “All these small purchases on a daily basis can have a large impact down the road,” Kelly said. Spending $10 on lunch may not seem like a huge sum. But if you do this four times a week, the cost really mounts up.

It’s easier than ever to spend money unthinkingly, given Starbucks or Dunkin Donut apps designed to speed through the checkout line.

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