How Can I Make Smarter Decisions About Money?

Learn how emotions affect your finances, plus get five tips to better your budget.

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We all want to be smart about money, but sometimes emotions and bad habits get in the way. Mike Roizen, MD, Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic, shares proven advice for getting a handle on your feelings—and your budget. Read on for his smart tips.

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Be Realistic

Opt for decision rather than wishful thinking. Emotions can distort our decisions. For example, emotions affect our perceptions of risks. People are good at persuading themselves that what they would like to happen is what will happen. Wishful thinking can help explain high rates of new business failure, trading in financial markets, under-saving and low rates of investment in education.

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Write it down

Carry a small notebook or diary with you in your purse or bag and record your daily purchases for one month. At the end of the month, sit down and look at your purchases and consider how to cut back or improve by 10 percent. You'll likely be amazed at what you can live without.

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Follow Through

Turn January's gym-memberships, yoga classes, etc. into through-year's resolutions by receiving daily e-mail alerts informing you of just how much money you've thrown down the drain in the 77 days since you last worked out.

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Many companies are now offering "auto-enrollment" programs whereby a certain percentage of each paycheck is directly routed to the employee's 401(k). Should one opt out of this plan, daily emails could alert you exactly how many dollars would be absent from future wallets/purses.

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Stay Put

Owning your home (paying off your mortgage) has more health benefits than continually switching homes. So, if you're in a starter home, you should consider staying for a while longer than you anticipated. The benefit is two-fold: Longer-term home ownership lets you accumulate financial value, as well as give you more availability to spend on healthy choices—a double bonus of stress busters.

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