What's one big difference between the rich and everybody else? Choices. Bad habits and bad decisions can leave you more likely to be broke than laughing all the way to the bank. Here are four ways to ensure you live paycheck to paycheck, or worse.
USE CREDIT AS A CRUTCH. If you view credit cards as monthly "income" to fund everyday expenses, you're headed for trouble. "The debt piles up with added interest, and you'll find it difficult to pay more than the minimum," warns Leslie Tayne, a Melville attorney specializing in debt issues. Instead, cut expenses to free up cash. There's no getting around having, and sticking, to a budget.
BUY HAPPINESS. You work a job you hate and spend your free time buying happiness. Find fulfilling work instead of "compensating with expensive habits during the weekend," advises Mike Finley, author of "Financial Happine$$."
LIVE FOR TODAY. Tomorrow comes. If you haven't saved for emergencies, your children's education or your retirement, there's no road map for your money . . . which could mean your destination is Brokeville.
Learn to wait for a deal, to think through financial decisions and say no. "Save 15 percent of what you earn," says Jonathan Gassman, CPA and CEO of The Gassman Group in Manhattan.
FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. You can pretend all you want -- buy bigger, better, more stuff, when you can't afford to. Go ahead, covet your neighbors' goodies, buy what they buy. Fronting is a sure ticket to financial failure.