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schedule 6 min read | February 16, 2024

How To Identify Your Financial Blind Spots

Written by Daniel Azzoli

What are financial blind spots? Well, they’re aspects of your financial life that you might be overlooking or misunderstanding, potentially leading to some harmful consequences. Identifying these blind spots is an important aspect of making sound financial decisions and keeping your financial profile in a healthy place. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the concept of financial blind spots, go over some common areas where these blind spots tend to creep up, and give some actionable tips on how to root them out and address them.

Understanding Financial Blind Spots

We can think of a financial blind spot like driving a car with a blindfold on – you might be able to find your way for a short period, but eventually, you’re going to hit an obstacle. Similarly, in personal finance, blind spots are areas where you might lack awareness or fail to fully understand the implications of your actions. These blind spots can come in different forms, from overlooking some type of fees to neglecting long-term financial goals.

9 Common Financial Blind Spots

Let’s take a look at some common areas where things may be overlooked, or where there may be some gaps in your understanding.

1. Fees and Expenses

One of the most prevalent financial blind spots is the failure to understand the total cost of certain financial actions. Whether it's in banking, investing, or even in daily spending, fees can build up without you realizing what the impact is on your overall financial health. For example, high-interest rates on credit cards, maintenance fees on bank accounts, or investment management fees can significantly eat away at your bank account over time.
Tip: Regularly review your financial statements and be aware of any fees associated with your accounts. Consider alternatives with lower fees, if possible, and explore fee structures before making financial decisions.

2. Emergency Fund Neglect

A lot of people might underestimate the importance of having an emergency fund until they run into an actual emergency. Without a financial safety net, unexpected expenses can lead to debt and financial stress. Overlooking the need for an emergency fund is a common blind spot that can have serious consequences.
Tip: Aim to save three to six months' worth of living expenses in an easily accessible account. Regularly contribute to your emergency fund to make sure it remains topped up for unexpected circumstances.

3. Ignoring Insurance Gaps

Insurance can sometimes be an afterthought until it's needed. You might overlook gaps in your insurance coverage, leaving you vulnerable to financial setbacks if things like accidents, illnesses, or other unexpected issues pop up.
Tip: Conduct a thorough review of your insurance policies, including health, auto, home, and life insurance. Make sure that your coverage aligns with your current needs and circumstances.

4. Procrastination in Retirement Planning

Saving for retirement is a long-term commitment, and procrastination is something a lot of us fall into. People often delay saving for retirement, thinking they have plenty of time. However, the earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow.
Tip: Start contributing to retirement accounts as early as possible. Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans and consider consulting with a financial advisor to create a comprehensive retirement plan.

5. Overlooking Credit Report and Credit Score

Your credit report and credit score play a crucial role in your financial well-being. Some people might not regularly check their credit reports, which can lead to inaccuracies or identity theft issues going unnoticed.
Tip: Obtain free annual credit reports from major credit bureaus and review them for any discrepancies. Monitor your credit score regularly and take steps to impact it if necessary.

6. Neglecting Investment Knowledge

Investing can seem like a complicated process, and a lot of people might lack a thorough understanding of their investment portfolios. Blindly trusting financial advisors or neglecting to diversify investments can sometimes lead to issues down the road.
Tip: You don’t need to become a full blown expert, but it’s a good idea to educate yourself about basic investment principles. Diversify your investment portfolio to manage risk, and periodically review and rebalance your investments based on your financial goals.

7. Overlooking Tax Planning

Some people underestimate the impact of taxes on their financial outcomes. Failing to consider tax implications can lead to missed opportunities for deductions, credits, and tax-efficient investment strategies.

A person holding a calculator and a person sitting at a table.

Tip: Stay informed about changes in tax laws and regulations. Consider consulting with a tax professional to optimize your tax strategy, especially during major life events like marriage, homeownership, or starting a business.

8. Failure to Reevaluate Insurance Coverage

We already mentioned the importance of making sure there aren’t gaps in your insurance coverage. While having insurance is essential, a financial blind spot some people run into is neglecting to reevaluate coverage as life circumstances change. As your family grows, assets increase, or income levels fluctuate, your insurance needs to evolve.

Tip: Periodically review your insurance coverage to ensure it aligns with your current situation. Update policies accordingly, considering factors like income, dependents, and overall financial health.

9. Ignoring the Impact of Lifestyle Inflation

Lifestyle inflation happens when an increase in income leads to an increase in spending. Failing to recognize and manage lifestyle inflation can hurt progress toward financial goals and slow down your wealth-building efforts.

Tip: Be mindful of lifestyle inflation and strive to maintain a balance between enjoying the fruits of your labor and saving for the future. Regularly reassess your budget as your income changes and prioritize saving and investing.

10. Debt Denial

Ignoring or downplaying the significance of debt is a common financial blind spot. Some people may not fully grasp the impact of high-interest debt on their overall financial health. Credit card balances, personal loans, or other forms of debt can accumulate quickly, leading to a cycle of financial strain if they’re not used responsibly and you don’t have a plan to pay them off before taking them on.
Tip: Regularly assess your outstanding debts and interest rates. Create a plan to pay down high-interest debt systematically and consider consulting a financial advisor for strategies to manage and reduce debt.

11. Lack of Estate Planning

Some people overlook the importance of estate planning, thinking that it's a problem for the distant future. Failing to have a comprehensive estate plan can result in financial chaos for loved ones in the event of unexpected circumstances, like illness or death.
Tip: Consult with an estate planning attorney to create a will, establish power of attorney, and set up healthcare directives. Review and update your estate plan regularly to reflect changes in your life and financial situation.

12. Underestimating Inflation and Cost of Living Changes

A common blind spot is underestimating the impact of inflation and changes in the cost of living over time. Failing to consider these factors can lead to inadequate savings and retirement planning, as the purchasing power of money diminishes.
Tip: Factor in inflation when setting financial goals and projecting future expenses. Regularly reassess your budget and savings targets to ensure they align with the evolving economic landscape.

Identifying Your Financial Blind Spots

It’s one thing to have an idea of where these financial blind spots might be lingering, and it’s another to have the processes in place to identify them. Here are some practices to keep up with to help make sure your blind spots don’t get the better of you.

1. Self-Reflection

Start by reflecting on your financial habits, decisions, and goals. Consider your attitudes towards money, your spending patterns, and your long-term financial objectives. This introspection can help uncover areas where you might have overlooked potential issues.

2. Budget Analysis

Reviewing your budget is an effective way to identify financial blind spots. Examine your income, expenses, and savings to understand where your money is going. Look for patterns or areas where you might be overspending or neglecting crucial financial priorities.

3. Professional Guidance

Seeking advice from financial professionals, like financial advisors or accountants, can give you valuable insights. These experts can help identify blind spots that you might have missed and work with you to build tailored recommendations based on your unique financial situation.

4. Regular Financial Checkups

Schedule regular financial checkups to assess your overall financial health. These checkups can include reviewing your credit report, evaluating your investment portfolio, and ensuring that your financial goals are still aligned with your current circumstances.

A person holding a piece of paper and smiling at it.

Don’t Let your Blind Spots go Unchecked

Identifying and addressing financial blind spots is a not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process that asks a lot of you. You need to be self-aware, educated, and proactive. By understanding common blind spots, conducting regular financial checkups, and taking steps to address potential issues, you can navigate your financial journey with confidence and make informed decisions that contribute to your long-term financial well-being. Remember, a proactive and informed approach to personal finance is key to achieving your financial goals and building a secure financial future.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal or other professional advice. For full details, see CreditFresh’s Terms of Use.

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