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10 Ways to Go Broke

It's easy to find frugal advice on how to make and save money, but you rarely hear about the things you do to harm to your financial future. Sometimes we spend so much time scheming and planning for wealth, we forget to hang onto what we've already got. Before you break out the credit card or plan that expensive trip, check out these 10 ways you can easily -- and quickly -- go broke.

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  1. Not Taking Care of Yourself - Unexpected medical bills for a serious illness or accident can decimate your savings and max out your credit cards quickly. If you fall behind on payments, you could destroy your credit or be forced to give up things like your car or home. Spend the money for annual check-ups, vitamins, a gym membership and health foods. Wear your seatbelt and look both ways before crossing the street - whatever it takes to keep you healthy and safe.
  1. Keeping All of Your Eggs in One Basket - Having all of your money tied up in one investment like a stock, property or trust fund gives you a higher risk of being completely wiped out financially if something goes wrong. Think about the disastrous results of the collapse of the banking system or the headline-making Ponzi schemes that left thousands without a dime. Diversifying your money will protect you in case of unexpected circumstances surrounding other investments.
  1. Not Reading the Fine Print - Do not sign a contract for anything, whether it's a gym membership or home, until you have read every single line, paragraph and had it reviewed by an accountant, lawyer or both. Hidden fees, confusing language and cancellation terms can all be hidden and cost you big if you don't pay attention. If you can't explain what you are paying for to someone else, consider a different option.{relatedarticles}
  1. Start Expensive Hobbies - You might have enough for the initial purchase of a boat or a horse, but the upkeep and continual financial commitment for these activities can be astronomical. A boat needs maintenance, storage, and licensing or education costs for using it that can all add up quickly. A horse needs food, caretakers, a stable, lessons and veterinary attention. Before you start something, think about how much you really will pay for it.
  1. Not Having Insurance - Health, life, home and disability insurance can protect you and your family in the event of an emergency or major life change. If your employer doesn't offer health insurance, look into low-cost options that at least have hospital coverage. Disability insurance can come into play if you are injured and unable to work, and life insurance protects the family left behind in case of death. In unavoidable natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods, your home insurance can help get you back on your feet. No one expects to be hurt or have their home destroyed, but not preparing for it could cause you even more pain and loss.
  1. Co-signing for a Loan - If you are helping out a child, friend or family member by cosigning on a loan, do so with caution. Unless you truly trust the person to pay bills on time, don't do it. You may be on the hook for unpaid bills, late fees and damage to your credit. Your loved one may have the best intentions of paying the loan back on time, but as we know, life can happen and destroy your financial well-being in the process.
  1. Treating Home Equity Like an ATM - Refinancing often and taking cash out on your house can cost you thousands in fees and built-up interest. Doing this also forces you to pay more for your home than what it's worth and will leave you holding the bag when it's time to sell. If you really need something, save for it. If it's an impulse purchase, wait a week to see if you still need/want it.{relatedarticles}
  1. Buying a House that's too Big - Bigger isn't always better. Unless you can justify the extra space (i.e., a big family, working from home, etc.) stick with something smaller. Large homes mean high taxes, utility bills, and maintenance that can add up and may not be accounted for when you decided to buy the home. It also may be harder to sell a large home in a recovering or weak economy in the future.
  1. Spending More than You Earn - This one might seem like a no-brainer, but in households with more than one income, the perceived amount of money you have may be less than you think. Not sticking to a budget can make it easier to spend on frivolous items without accounting for the bills and other expenses that should have been secured first.

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    Many people live off of credit cards and believe because they are making the minimum payments, they can afford it. Be realistic with yourself and know what you can afford before you make purchases. Even small expenditures can add up to big debts in the long run. Use free software or online programs to track your spending, and create a budget to see what you can afford to save and what can be used for "fun" purchases.

  1. Not Saving for Retirement - In your 20s, 30s and even 40s it can seem like retirement is far off, and that you'll have plenty of time to sock away a nest egg. However, the longer you wait, the harder it is to put away enough money to sustain yourself after work-life.
    If you find yourself injured or sick and forced into early retirement, you may have nothing to fall back on. Research the options available through your employer or bank to start saving today.

If you haven't done any of these yet, you may be in the safe zone. However, even if you can relate to one or more of these actions, it's not too late to get out of trouble. {relatedarticles}Consult a financial planner or counselor to help you get back on the right track and into a more secure financial future.