When it comes to personal finance topics, there are always trends happening at any given time.  As you may know,  just because something’s a trend doesn’t mean it’s positive or good for you. Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot about trends in personal finance that can actually sabotage all your financial goals. In this article, we explore these trends and their realities, so you can make more informed decisions about choosing to follow the herd – or blazing your own trail.

Trend #1: Relying on Credit Cards When You Need Extra Money

Credit cards are a very popular personal finance topic.  You may find yourself using one to bail yourself out of a financial emergency or for a splurge on something.  The truth is that you’re not the only one.  According to a survey by Bankrate.com, most Americans don’t have enough savings to cover $1000 hiccup.  Instead of following this trend, build up a savings account.  This will allow you to weather the financial storm with ease.  Saving money may not be “trendy”, but it will help you achieve your long-term financial goals.  Not to mention, it will help keep you out of debt.

Trend #2: Not Following a Budget

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Let’s face it: following a budget isn’t cool or sexy. If you look at all the popular Instagram followers, you’ll never notice any mention of a budget or savings plan. All the cool kids are out there living their best lives, spending lots of money on whatever their heart desires. Not having a budget may make you feel free in the short term, but it will only burden you in the long term. Instead, be responsible and create a budget that makes sense for you.

Trend #3: Taking Out Student Loans to Pay for Education is a hot personal finance topic

Another hot personal finance topic is higher education and how expensive it is.  In fact, according to studentloanhero.com, 69% of the graduating class of 2018 took out student loans.  With that being said, sometimes you have no choice but to take out a loan. However, too many students and graduates are burdened by crippling debt because no one ever told them that other options exist. Instead of taking out a huge loan, consider applying for as many grants and scholarships as possible. Choose a less expensive school. Or, seek other opportunities like online education. These days, you can still get an excellent education without burying yourself in debt.

Trend #4: Getting more car than you can afford

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Cars are expensive today.  Especially if you choose to get a car you really can’t afford.  Millions of Americans are behind on their car payments and with good reason.  According to Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Market, the average car loan is around the $31k mark translating to a monthly payment of over $500.  That is quite a bit of money with the average American bringing home around $46k a year.

In order to avoid becoming a statistic, you need to re-frame your thinking about cars.  Yes it’s nice to have a car with all the bells and whistles, but it is not going to mean much when you start falling into debt.  Going the route of buying a used car is always an option and easier on the pocket to purchase and maintain. Always keep in mind, new cars lose value the moment you drive them off the lot.  Be smart!

Trend #5:  Americans lack emergency savings

This personal finance topic is a wildly popular one.  Three to six months’ of living expenses is what you should have saved up in the bank.  As you can imagine, not only do most people not have this, most people don’t even have an emergency fund that they are putting money into.  This can spell financial disaster for most people.  You never know when you are going to need money for a car repair, a broken air unit or any number of other things.

The name of the game here is cutting back and saving what you aren’t spending.  If you can swing it, consider getting a side gig for some extra income.  There are so many ways to earn extra money these days.  It really comes down to the time you want to dedicate to making more money.

 Be a leader when it comes to personal finance topics

As you can see, following the flock isn’t always good for your wallet or your future. When it comes to personal finance and your credit, you don’t always have to follow conventional advice. Instead, dig a little deeper and find the solutions that work best for you and your financial goals.