Top 7 Money Mistakes To Avoid: Start Winning With Money

Money is complex.

Where there’s complexity, there’s often confusion.

How do you win with money and control it – so it doesn’t control YOU?

Your dedication to getting your finances in check is going to reap the most rewards for you.

In order to start #winning with money, you’re going to need to know what not to do!

Today, I’m breaking down some common mistakes so that you can avoid them in your daily life.

As an added bonus, I’m giving you some winning strategies to help you take control of your money.

Shall we begin?

money mistakes to avoid

Top 7 Money Mistakes To Avoid: Start Winning With Money

Money Mistake #1: 

Not analyzing finances regularly

Quiz time!

What is your:

 Monthly take-home pay?  

 Expenses breakdown?

Excess monthly income over expenses?

→ Credit score?

You may know your take-home pay right off the bat.

For all the other figures, do you at least know the ballpark numbers?

Here are some things to look for…

• Non-essential expenses. How much money are you paying unnecessarily?

• Irregular transaction amounts. Do you review your expenses for potential issues?

• Credit score changes. Normal change = 750 vs. 745 ↔ Abnormal change = 750 vs. 700

• Monthly utilities are consistent with previous months. If not, what’s causing the difference?

Make it a priority to keep your eyes on fluctuations, irregularities, and problems before it becomes a bigger issue!


To start winning in this area, find a new approach to managing your finances.

The FTD Budget + Tracking Spreadsheet is available for your use.

Learn more about it and sign up for it here >> Your very own Budget + Tracking BFF & step-by-step 20-page guide

Yes, I made a 20-page walk-through guide to get you started!



Why income does not equal wealth: Take Control Of Your Money

Get to know your credit score: Boost Your Credit Score With This Guide

Other tools that are helpful for tracking your money: Tools To Manage Your Financial Health

Money Mistake #2

Not respecting the small amounts

I’m looking at the “small amounts” in more ways than one here.

Have you ever looked at a grocery store receipt and asked yourself ” How on Earth did the total get SO HIGH!! “?

Maybe a few choice words here and there.

The receipt looks innocent enough.

People have a natural tendency to see small prices as insignificant.

This is amplified when that item is thrown in a basket with many others.

That’s why I suggest a shopping list for all shopping encounters – either that or a full tummy and strong will.

We won’t be talking about Target – today. 

Shopping is only ONE area that can lead to overspending.

Not respecting the small amounts can also affect your finances in other areas of your life.

Here are a few examples.

• Checking and savings account fees$5.00

• Late fees$15.00 [whoops]

• Misc. membership fees$12.99 

• Credit card fees$29.00 [whoops again]

• Roaming fees$49.90 [$4.99/min. x 10 min.]

• Data overages$10.00 [extra 1 GB]

Individually, each of these line items may not stand out.

Together, they can accumulate and add hundreds of dollars to your expenses, which otherwise can be avoided with more attention and care.

Alternatively, these small amounts can positively influence your finances in other ways: be used to pay down debt, add to savings, and invested to build wealth.


It’s time for an expenses audit.

Comb through all the extras that you are paying and decide if it stays or goes. 

If you find yourself paying “accidental” fees, seek out methods to automate your finances so you’re not stuck paying them unnecessarily.

Money Mistake #3

Not saving for life’s curveballs

Let’s say you like to live it up.

You work hard, so you play hard.

What happens when you lose your job, have health concerns, or relationship woes?

This is where saving comes in.

If you save just a little off each paycheck and send it into a savings account, then you’ll have money for what life throws at you.

$50 here, $20 there – it adds up, remember?


Open up a savings account that makes it easy for you to either automate or transfer money.

Next, decide on the level of emergency funding that works for your situation.

Contemplate – if an emergency were to happen tomorrow, how much savings would make you feel secure and NOT go into debt?

If you can’t find extra money, then look around and see what you don’t use anymore that can fetch some money.

Example: I have an old Keurig I can list it on CL and get probably $30-$40 from it and throw that money into savings. Rinse and repeat.

If you have clothing and accessories that have accumulated throughout the years and are in good to new condition, try selling on Poshmark.

Read more on how to make your first sale >> Tips To Making Your First Sale On Poshmark.

Money Mistake #4

Not investing for the future YOU

money mistakes

As for investing, your 20s and 30s are a great time to start if you want to build long-term wealth.

Let’s say you’re 25 years old now and you want to work until you’re 55.

That’s 30 years of compound growth that will help propel your money and build wealth.

If you plan on investing later in life, also plan on practically doubling your contributions to get to the same goal.

Don’t take my word for it.

Put the numbers into any investment calculator and you’ll see the resulting difference.

You may be thinking, when I get older I’ll figure it out.

I’m sure the folks in their 40s and 50s would say that they wish they had put aside money earlier for investing.


Seek out low-fee investments that have a track record of performing.

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but you can be the most boring investor and still get results. Don’t be intimidated by investment-speak.

You may be investing in your 401k at work. Look at the low-fee options you have available that match your risk tolerance. It will vary depending on your age.

Once you are comfortable with the concept of growing your money, consider other investment options.

The next step I took with ease was opening an IRA (Roth or Traditional). It allows for max contributions of $6,000/year (2020).

Read this article if you want to learn more about investing for the long-run: 


Money Mistake #5

Not making debt payments as they come due

(+ not having a debt payoff plan)

If you have a loan, credit card, or any other form of debt, then you have promised to pay back the money you were given.

When you default by not paying your bills, you are screaming to the world that you are not good for your promises and your word is meaningless.

As a result, you are awarded the status of “ bad credit ”.

When this happens, anytime you borrow money, you will pay higher interest rates and endure other unfavorable terms and conditions.

If you take out loans or credit then commit to not take out more than you can pay comfortably.

More importantly, with most debt, aim to pay off the balances so that you can redirect that money to build wealth.


It’s important to start saving and investing, but if you have consumer debt, student loans, and any other debt (other than the mortgage), it’s smart to take care of those balances.

The micro-focus you put into paying off the debt can then be redirected to other wealth-building buckets. 

As an example, if I was paying off debt it would look like this…

1-year debt payoff horizon

Contribute to 401k to get the employer match.

Fully fund emergency savings.

Debt, debt, debt payoff (other than mortgage).

Again, this would be my method.

Work out a plan that makes sense for your debt timeline.

As always, don’t default, work on a debt payoff plan, and limit debt build-up.

Money Mistake #6

Using an emotional approach to making financial decisions

He’s about to pop the question, so emotionally he wants to buy a 1 ct. diamond – because that’s what she wants, the bigger the better.

But then, if it was .75 ct., would she really refuse to marry him? (Hmmmmm?)

The point is this. Emotional decisions can make people vulnerable to spending far more than they actually can.

This can apply to anything from an engagement ring to designer shoes to your dream house!

There is nothing wrong with liking what you have, but it needs to make sense and sometimes downgrading just a little can make a huge financial difference!


Envision the top ways you want to spend your hard-earned money in your lifetime. 

What is it for you? Is it financial freedom, house on an acreage, living in your favorite city…and so on?

Before making a big emotional purchase, compare and contrast to your end money goals.

If it makes sense, it stays. If it doesn’t, you know what to do.

It will help you come to the right conclusion.

You can’t have it all and expect to pay for it all – unless you can?!

Money Mistake #7

Leaving money on the table

Let’s say your employer matches your 401k contribution up to 6%.

Many people in the company are likely keeping their contributions at the default rate which may not meet the match.

You should be able to login to your plan provider’s website, go to the contributions section, and make the percentage change.

You’ll barely notice the change in your paycheck and you get ALL THE FREE MONEY.

money mistakes

Another way you may be leaving money on the table is by not negotiating a job offer, not working towards a raise or promotion, or not finding a higher paying job.

There is not a step-by-step guide to your next raise that is applicable to every, single person.

Each employer is different. You’re going to have to tread the waters yourself to know what is possible for you.

Remember, when you settle for less money you’re leaving thousands of dollars on the table.


Getting your max contribution is easy and can be done in a few clicks.

Making more money at your job is going to be harder.

In the past, these are the tips that have worked for me:

• Be proactive

• Show up – not just physically, but mentally as well

• Be a problem-solver

• Make your boss’s job easier

• Get certified (if it applies)

Also, take a look on so you can see what is out there in your city. It doesn’t hurt to look and compare.

I’ve mentioned this before, but even if it’s a lateral move, there may be more opportunities, benefits, or retirement contributions that will make an impact in your overall financial picture.

Related article: Be Awesome And Conquer Your Financial Goals

Start Winning!

Let’s review what you can do so you don’t make the mistakes mentioned above!

#1 – Take time to analyze your finances so you know what you have to work with.

#2 – Respect the small amounts because they will matter over the long-run.

#3 – Save for life’s curveballs.

#4 – Invest for the future you.

#5 – Pay all debt as it comes due and make a goal to pay off debt.

#6 – Think rationally about big emotional purchases by looking at the big picture.

#7 – Check all the boxes to increase the amount of money you get.

Start winning with your money and you won’t look back!

Check out the Budget + Tracking Spreadsheet!  It comes with a 20-page guide to help you get started. It’s much more than having a “budget”. It’s about knowing where your money is going and seeing the big picture.



Full-Time Dollars 9-5 redefined

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Have you made any money mistakes that have caused you trouble in the past? Are there other pitfalls not mentioned in the article that should be discussed?  

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  • Tom from Dividends Diversify

    I think you have step 1 exactly right HP. The more one does that, the more the other steps will fall in place naturally.

    Off topic, but I’m trying to up my Pinterest game. Would you mind sharing what tool you use to create your pins (I currently use Canva) and if you recommend any good/active personal finance tribes?

    I spiffed up my home page last week and got added to a few additional group boards. Considering the Tailwind annual plan too. Your results from your last post inspired me!

  • Steph

    Great list! It’s so hard to balance everything in your financial life. You broke down how to get a handle on everything so well! I’m the worst at thinking, “OH, it’s just an extra 50/mo, I need it!” I’ve recognized that is such a debt trap.

    • Full-Time Dollars

      Thanks Steph! With me, that thought-process happens often at the grocery store. That’s why I have to make a shopping list and allocate a snacks column. 🙂 Small wins here and there, right? Thanks for coming by!

  • Mrs. Defined Sight

    One of our old favorite shows is The Profit, with Marus Lemonis. Not sure if you have seen it, but when you started rattling off all those questions in step 1 – my brain automatically defaulted to him when he goes into a business and starts hitting them with tons of questions like that!

    Yes, before we begin, we have to know where we are starting at and need to be able to answer those questions like they are our social security number…

    I think the mistake that I’ve made in the past is not asking for a higher wage nor realizing salaries were negotiable. A very young/naive mistake but I was always taught to just be grateful to have a job and not want more.

    Great post and have an awesome weekend!

    • Full-Time Dollars

      I haven’t seen that movie. TBH, if I had that part wouldn’t have stood out to me. Sometimes you have to ask the hard questions. Originally that header was going to be “Putting your head in the sand”, but Google bots aren’t going to understand what that means. Humans would understand that it means not ignoring your finances.

      My reach has always been to people that are in need of a deeper knowledge of PF. What may be common knowledge to some people is not to others.

      You live, you learn. I’ve made similar mistakes and have found the common ones are easy to fix with more attention and care.

      Luckily at my first real job my boss made it very aware to me that there are two types of people in the workplace. The ones that stay put and don’t care to move up which she called bean counters. And there’s the people whose goals are to move up and make more money over their lifetime. She made it very clear there’s nothing wrong with either. I agree. I’ve always chosen to make more money because that way I can’t complain if I can’t pay the bills. And it wasn’t easy. It hardly ever is. 🙂

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