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american-963191_640It’s tempting to think that maintaining a budget is the only money management skill you might need.

In reality, budgeting is a symptom rather than a solution. If you’re regularly making a budget, you’re probably the type of person that’s generally attentive to money. That’s the real key to financial success.

It isn’t necessarily the budget itself, it’s the fact that you’re paying attention.

What are some of the other good habits that people who pay attention to money exude?

Here a list of my few favorites. Try and follow them as best as you can!

1. Whenever you get a pay increase, save and invest it. Many people use raises to inflate their lifestyle. If you apply a raise toward boosting your savings and investmentsinstead, you’ll have a much better chance of winning the game.

2. Maintain a lifestyle you can sustain. If you live in a manner that’s far too frugal and deprive yourself constantly, you’ll eventually counter-balance by overspending. If you maintain a lifestyle that’s sustainable, complete with occasional indulgences in the things you value most, you’ll maintain strong financial habits over the long run.

3. Practice some type of budgeting, even if it’s a basic two category budget. This involves first pulling your savings off the top, and then living on the rest. If you’d like a more detailed budget, check out the 50/20/30 budget, the five category budget, or a traditional line items budget.

4. Don’t put anything on a credit card if you can’t pay it off at the end of the month.

In fact, if you’re not sure about this, go ahead and pay your credit cards off weekly or even daily to make sure that you’re staying in check. Alternately, switch to a debit card or cash. Personally, I prefer credit cards because I like the airline miles, but I only take this route because I’ve never in my life had a single penny of credit card debt.

If you’re unsure if you can use credit cards without digging yourself into debt, stick with cash.

5. Be patient. If you want to buy something, save up for it in advance.

6. Be grateful. Gratitude is the key to letting go of the importance you place on material items.

7. Don’t secretly spend money behind your spouse’s back. This will ruin both your finances and your relationship.

8. Don’t equate having fun with spending money. There are plenty of ways to have funthat don’t involve spending a whole lot of dough.

9. Avoid impulse purchases. If there’s something you want to buy, think about it for a week. If you still want it after a week, go back to get it (if you have the savings for it).

10. Get at least three quotes for household work. When you’re hiring repair people, contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other types of household help, it pays to get multiple estimates.

11. Stick to low-fee index funds, and watch your investment fees closely.

12. Don’t trust a third party like your stock broker to make good financial decisions for you. You can’t outsource your brain. You’re the master of your own financial destiny. Don’t blindly rely on somebody else to make the decision.

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