This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

5 'Mindless' Money Mistakes You Don't Want To Make

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We have a personal debt problem.

The Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute reports that 35% of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to nationwide collection agencies.

Altogether, U.S. consumers owed an average $5,200 each to creditors as of September, the UI reports, which is worrisome because consumers with too much debt can't spend the kind of money the economy needs to stay on course. Worse, identity theft is on the rise and Americans are even more at risk for losing money and suffering the resulting debt and credit problems.

Avoiding mindless money mistakes, including such things as losing track of credit and falling victim to identity theft, can help Americans keep debt down and income and savings up.

Read More: Economy Is Up, But More Americans Have Big Debt

It's all about creating wealth-generating -- and ultra-safe -- money habits, says Patrice C. Washington, chief executive at Seek Wisdom Wealth, a personal finance training and development firm.

"When you're busy and caught up in the stresses of everyday life, it's easy to make mindless mistakes that directly impact your finances," Washington says. "It is essential to thoroughly think through every decision prior to making it so you don't let your finances take the back burner."  

Here are some common money mistakes Washington urges you to avoid:

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Social media are a natural gathering place for I.D. thieves, so be careful when using it. "Be cautious when posting any information on social networking sites -- just remember that some things are best kept private," Washington says. "The less information you put out there for the world to see, the less likely you are to potentially fall prey to identity theft.

Clicking a link in an email from the IRS. Identity thieves like to use the Internal Revenue Service as an "entry point" to access consumers' financial data. "The IRS is an established governmental organization. It's almost guaranteed that they won't be sending you emails," Washington says. "Don't click on anything from an unauthorized source, and never send any sensitive information through email." 

Hold the phone. Scamsters also like to target unwary, and unprepared, consumers (especially elderly ones) over the phone. "Similar to email, never provide any sensitive financial information over the phone to an unverified source," she adds. "To verify that they are who they say they are, hang up and call your bank or credit card agency and ask if there is a problem."

Read More: What You're Paying For Financial Fees -- and How To Avoid Them

As far as keeping a closer watch on credit, Washington has some advice on that front, too.

Beware financial partnerships. Watch out when you commingle accounts with a romantic partner. "Don't take lightly the commitment of joining accounts with a partner," she says. "Before making the decision, keep in mind the potential consequences your financial status and credit score could suffer if the relationship doesn't go as planned." 

Track your credit. "Don't get lazy with credit, keep track of it and make sure to closely monitor it from month to month," Washington says. "Keeping an eye on your statements and accounts will help you quickly catch any unauthorized transactions and identity theft."

Keeping an eye on your finances -- and the key threats to those finances -- is the best way to avoid mindless money mistakes. Keep that in mind and your income and assets will be better protected, and can grow more freely.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,265.99 +109.14 0.64%
S&P 500 2,011.40 +9.83 0.49%
NASDAQ 4,591.0970 +28.9080 0.63%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs