Are you happy with the way you spend your hard-earned money?

Or perhaps you have a few bad money habits you know you can do without?

Like many people who learn the concept of compound interest a little late, I wish I’d learned about it in my teens or early 20s.

Had I understood it at an early age, I’d have made better choices with my money.

Although regrets are part of our lives, the consequences of bad money habits can be much more severe than those of other life choices.

So, if you haven’t thought about how you spend your money, I hope the lessons I’ve learned below give you an opportunity to think about it.

Of course, there’s nothing better than educating yourself if you really want to master the money game and take charge of your finances.

Check out these excellent, must-read finance books.

You might also be interested in the best debt quotes I wish I had known in my early 20s.

Now I’m happy to say I’ve ditched all my bad money habits.

It had begun with a bare-bones budget. Basically, I became a nun for a while.

Since then, I’ve adopted a minimalist lifestyle.

Life has become far simpler, more straightforward, and, most of all, more in control, like I could finally breathe.

A good thing about a bare-bones budget is that budgeting got so much easier, simpler, and faster—not boring or tedious like I thought it would be!

Imagine you have 50 columns to fill in on your printable or Excel budget sheet.

That’s the kind of stuff that’ll put you permanently off budgeting.

My bare-bones budget had narrowed down the list to less than 10 columns to fill!

Below are bad money habits I wish I’d avoided in my early 20s.

1. Impulsive Travelling

When you live in a metropolitan city like London, jumping on a plane for a getaway to other parts of Europe becomes so easy.

I wish I had developed a habit of winding down in a club or something. You know, something like binge drinking.

Mine was travelling.

So when a stressful situation occurred, I’d book a flight and “run away.”

I’d rationalise that I need to get away to somewhere exotic, take my mind off everything, and forget it all; when I return, I’ll start afresh.

It worked, but along with it, came a hefty price tag, as I often took the trip on credit cards. duh!

2. Eating out or Ordering Takeaway

Many times, I convinced myself that I was too tired to cook after work.

The truth was that I was simply too lazy to cook.

I also loved to treat friends. I took them out to dinner after work, exploring new cuisines together.

The crazy thing is that I love cooking.

It’s been a while since I’ve dined out or ordered takeaway.

I also recently learned about fasting.

Originally started as a self-control exercise, I’m loving it for many reasons.

Not only does it save money (although I don’t recommend this as the reason for fasting!), but I like the health benefits of fasting I’m experiencing.

3. Using Credit Cards

I used to be really good with credit cards… until I wasn’t.

I got hooked on its simplicity: Credit cards made spending so much easier because there was always “money” to spend.

I know I wouldn’t have been able to buy things as easily if I had relied solely on the funds in my current account.

Using credit cards was unusual at first, but it gradually became the norm. When I realised its pull and the trap, I was in way over my head with debt.

4. Window Shopping

The other day, I took out an old cosmetic bag while decluttering the wardrobe.

I was shocked to see a collection of makeup inside.

I don’t know why I bought so many eye pencils, among many others!

They reminded me of mindless shopping habits: I’d amble down the busy street, pop into a fancy shop, and browse a range of colourful makeup. And I’d walk out with one or two that I didn’t really need. Duh!

I no longer shop on high streets.

5. Buying the First Thing

When I wanted to buy something—and there were a lot of them, apparently—I’d buy it at the first opportunity.

Everything was more about convenience and speed than price.

Price comparison for the sake of saving a few dollars here and there? No thanks.

Now I spend days reading about reviews to make sure I buy what I really “need” and at the best price.

Oftentimes, I’d end up not buying at all.

6. Upgrading Phones Every Year

Paying extra to get the latest gadget was my vanity at its highest!

The existing phone worked fine, and I didn’t use two-thirds of the features in it.

I really didn’t have a good reason for an upgraded version.

Now I love and cherish everything I own.

There’s no need to replace them unless they die on me.

7. No Budgeting

I’ve always been a spontaneous person.

So planning didn’t come naturally to me.

I loved surprises, chance meetups, unknown places, and random happenings.

Life was more fun this way.

Budgeting felt like a major restriction on my free spirit and independent nature, taking all the fun out of life.

Now I budget, of course.

I started by cutting all my expenses to the bone, which made budgeting much simpler with only a few things to list on my budget.

With budgeting, I feel grounded and in control. 

8. Spending as a Means of Emotional Therapy

Everything related to eating out, takeaways, window shopping, and impulsive travel may fall under this.

But I think it’s worth a separate mention.

I was never crazy about shopping or the stuff I bought.

When you buy your favourite dress or shoes and return home, what do you usually do?

I don’t know for sure, but I imagine most people are eager to put on the new dress, stand in front of a mirror, examine it from all different angles, and feel happy with a new addition.


I’d find the dress in the same shopping bag a few days later.

Wash it and, once it dries, put it away.

I took the odd shopping trip as a form of emotional therapy.

Since I’ve immersed myself in personal development, I no longer use shopping trips as therapy sessions and have learned to cultivate inner peace and contentment.

9. Bank Fees/Late Fees

My warped mind used to think that, in the grand scheme of things, odd $5, $10, or $20 fees were nothing.

I’d thrown away my hard-earned money just like that.

Now I have a direct debit setup for all bills, and I watch my accounts like a hawk.

Final Thoughts

Through the bad money habits mentioned above, I’ve learned that mastering the money game isn’t about earning or spending it. It’s about keeping it.

For a long time, I’ve held on to a seemingly valid excuse for my poor money management: I didn’t have a role model.

With so many recourses available these days, they’ve become a real excuse.

Now I learn as much as I can about money, making spending difficult for myself, mastering the money game fully, paying off debt, and building a financially independent life.

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