Outside the Box: 4 ways to make managing your finances less scary

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Halloween is a holiday filled with fun traditions for all generations, young and old. From spooky costumes and eerie music to myths and omens of a haunted past, the Halloween spirit comes to life through some if its wacky superstitions.

While many of these superstitions may frighten you, follow closely enough and you can actually see signs and learn something from them — especially for your finances. Before you get tricked in the wallet, let’s debunk some superstitions so you can find a treat in your financial future.

1. Don’t hide your savings. Akin to the old adage, “find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you’ll have good luck,” no kid ever wants to get a penny instead of their favorite candy on Halloween. But if you find a penny on the ground it’s more than a symbol for good luck — it’s a sign to start saving, or saving more, for emergencies, a new home, a child’s education, your retirement, travel, or something else important to you. While your grandparents may have felt the need to hide their money under their bed and not put it in an interest-bearing account, it’s important to remember to be intentional and not be fearful of saving. Saving for your future is a lifelong skill; one that will work in your favor as the gift of compound interest will help grow your savings exponentially. And if your employer or financial institution offer auto-deposit or other automatic, recurring ways to save, take advantage of them to pay yourself first before all others.

2. Don’t fear the credit score. Black cats may be scary to some, but there’s nothing scarier than being unprepared for your financial future. A big piece of creating a stable financial future is by proactively managing your debt and paying bills and loans on time each and every month. Not only is this a good financial habit in general, but it also helps your credit score. Although paying extra against a principal balance can help reduce the amount of interest you pay on a loan overall, which is especially important with higher interest-rate loans, if there is nothing else you do, just pay on time. Getting smart with this habit alone is important as a recent MassMutual survey found that only half of young adults knew that making credit card payments on time has one of the biggest impacts on a credit score.

3. Itchy palms mean you are about to gain or lose money. Take those itchy palms and put them to good use by taking the mystery out of where your money comes from and goes every month by building and sticking to a budget. Take steps to protect your income — your livelihood — against illness or injury. And from time to time, take stock of how you’re doing financially, physically, emotionally and socially to align and tune up your overall well-being so that you’re always in an optimal position to accept the tricks or treats that come your way.

4. Don’t put your purse on the floor. And while you’re at it, don’t put your life in your wallet. While one is considered to be a superstitious sign of disrespect and disregard for your money, both are just simply dangerous. It’s easy today to become a victim of theft that can move quickly from financial loss to identity fraud. Safeguard your important documents and do not carry your life around with you. A good rule of thumb is to keep only what you need on you at all times. Stow away important financial documents and information in a safe and secure place, and tell someone you trust where they are. And it’s never a bad idea to sign up for a credit monitoring service to keep a close eye on your credit activity.

And if you happen to see a shooting star this Halloween season, superstition tells us to say the word “money” to invite more wealth into your life. Regardless if you believe this or not, the lessons we can all take away from superstitions is to notice signs in your life to help you pause, check in and align your path to a more secure financial future.

Mike Fanning is head of MassMutual U.S. with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.

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