Various parts of the Bible speak of seven deadly sins, any one of which can lead to damnation. Those sins are envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. These negative traits and characteristics are best avoided because they ultimately cause you to act in ways that are against your own best interests.
Likewise, when it comes to your finances, there are many deadly sins that can lead you to economic ruin. Here are five deadly financial sins that can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life:
You might think that living your life in a way that’s “carefree” and “spontaneous” is glamorous, fun or adventurous. Perhaps you even feel liberated by simply “flying by the seat of your pants” or going with your “gut instincts.”
But if you’re constantly “acting on a whim,” “going with the flow” or “living in the spur of the moment,” you’re bound to make poor financial decisions.
Impulsiveness is often just one step away from rash decision-making, because if you’re always guided by impulse, you never give yourself adequate time to think things through or engage in proper planning.
And getting ahead economically is all about financial planning.
Indulging in impulsive behavior can also lead you to financial mistakes such as over-spending, bad investments, or even marrying the wrong person. All these scenarios are personal and economic nightmares—especially when you try to undo the bad choice you made.
How many times have you told yourself that you need to make a will, hire a financial planner, get your credit score, or buy extra life insurance protection—only to have yet another year pass and the task remains undone?
Procrastination is a deadly financial sin because the things you don’t do can often be even more harmful than the things you manage to get done.
We all have different reasons for procrastinating: we’re too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed, too scared, too whatever.
No matter the root cause, procrastinating about financial matters is really a form of neglect. And when you neglect your finances all sorts of bad things can happen.
Think of it this way: tending to your finances is very much like tending to a garden.
If you nurture it and pay attention to it, the garden grows. The same is true for your finances and your assets. But if you procrastinate and neglect either one—your garden or your finances—both will wither and die a slow death.
And sometimes, procrastinating too long about important matters has painful consequences for you and those you love.
Consider the person who never bothers to buy life insurance and then passes away. That individual’s family members may not even have enough money to bury the deceased. Alternatively, if the person who dies has minor children, how will those kids survive if there’s no life insurance money left behind?
Here’s another common scenario that hurts procrastinators.
Many Americans would love to retire at age 60 or 65. But every year, millions of people in their 60s realize that retiring soon isn’t at all realistic—mainly because they never saved any money. They procrastinated about saving for far too long and now they face an uncertain, financially unstable retirement.
Even the Bible warns us against envy—and for good reason. If you’re constantly envious of what others have, that causes discontent and groaning, as well as a lack of gratitude for what you do have.
And if you’re not carefully, envy can make you do all kinds of crazy things—like getting a new, expensive car every year or buying the biggest house on the block, just to impress others.
All that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a fast way to wind up broke and in debt.
Again, Biblical scripture reminds us of the pitfalls of greed, in part because greed causes excess consumption of nearly everything. Greed might be manifested in your consumption of food, clothes, shoes, electronics, gadgets or other things.
If you’re a greedy person, two or three nice handbags are never enough; you’ve got to have 20 or 30—and they’re probably designer bags as well.
Learning to control your appetite is one of the keys to countering greed. In the meantime, if you have a greedy, insatiable appetite, you’re led by your passions and you think only with your eyes and heart, as opposed to using your head.
People often write me on AskTheMoneyCoach.com when they need assistance or information about a financial topic. I gladly answer their questions free of charge because I realize that I can really help people, since I’m blessed to know more about money matters than most people seeking my help.
I applaud anyone who tries to get answers to their money-management questions from me or any other expert. Those with questions are countering their ignorance with knowledge and informed advice—and they often pose questions before taking major steps or making important financial decisions.
But what about those who practice apathy when it comes to their personal finances?
Whether or not they realize it, they’re essentially telling themselves and others: “I don’t know about this personal finance stuff and I couldn’t care less.”
Thus, apathy goes far beyond ignorance.
An ignorant person might not know about a topic, but will take the time to ask a question and get the information from the right source. In my book, that’s smart.
But an apathetic person doesn’t even want to know.
Not only will he or she not ask a financial question, but if someone offered a helpful suggestion or volunteered an insight, the apathetic person would likely decline to listen or would simply let the advice go in one ear and out the other.
A wife who is apathetic about her finances might tell her husband “I don’t like finances, so you handle all the money stuff.” Again, this person doesn’t know what’s going on financially—and for whatever reason, doesn’t want to know.
Unfortunately, being mindless/clueless about one’s finances and turning a blind eye to fiscal matters has led to many people being scammed or financially mistreated. Such mistreatment can come at the hands of family members and loved ones, as well as strangers or so-called financial professionals.
The apathetic wife, mentioned above, might learn way too late that her dear husband—the one who is solely managing the checkbook, credit cards and all the household bank accounts—has a secret girlfriend and a 7-year-old kid on the side.
The apathetic man who abdicates all the financial decision-making to his stockbroker or financial planner may find that his advisor has made unsuitable investments or—even worse—has simply run off with the client’s money.
So as you reflect on these five deadly financial sins, consider the truth about your economic circumstances.
Even though most of us like to blame others for our money troubles (think: your ex who ruined your credit or the boss who laid you off from your job), in reality most of us suffer from self-inflicted financial wounds.
In fact, some of us shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot over and over again—either consciously or subconsciously, just by engaging in one of these five deadly financial sins.
It’s—as my husband Earl puts it—the equivalent of hitting your very own self-destruct button.
This list of five deadly financial sins is just a starting point. There are certainly more. And only you know the other financial transgressions you may be committing.
So the question is: when are you going to stop “sinning” financially and finally get on the path to economic “redemption”?
One easy step in the right direction is to simply re-read this article, share it with a relative or close friend, and then ask the person: “Do you think I’m guilty of any of these five deadly financial sins?”
Their answers may surprise and enlighten you.
This article originally appeared on AskTheMoneyCoach.com.