As a whole, how are people across the US doing with their personal financial stability? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not good. A report from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that a full 42% of US adults give their personal finance knowledge a C, D or F. Because of that fact, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 39% carry credit debt, while an astonishing 55% don’t have a budget.

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Whether you’re just getting started with managing your own finances, have been using a strategy that you believe is working well or are worried that you’ve gotten a little off track, it’s important to avoid getting complacent about your finances. Instead, you want to continue learning and adjusting your approach as needed.

Although it’s unfortunate that so many people have gone through financial struggles, the one upside is you can learn from common mistakes and prevent your own financial health from being condemned:

Avoiding Investments

If we’ve all learned anything during the last five years, it’s that investments are never guaranteed. That being said, you shouldn’t avoid putting your money to work for you. The key is to find the right strategy for where you’re currently at in life. Finding that is why the help of a great financial advisor is invaluable. It can take multiple interviews to find the right one. But once you do, it can mean great things for your investment portfolio.

Paying Big Bucks for a Checking Account

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Prior to 2008, most banks were simply happy to have customers who keep any type of balance in their checking account. But after the meltdown that was triggered by the financial crisis, banks had to start looking for new ways to make up for the massive losses they endured. Although it wasn’t employed by every bank, a common approach adopted by many was to start charging a fee for just about everything. From $30 overdraft fees to steep transaction fees for using an ATM, banks weren’t shy about milking money from their customers. In fact, some charge a service fee just for having a checking account.

While banks may make it seem like this is business is usual, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. If you’re tired of feeling like the institution that’s supposed to enable you to use your money has put a leak in your personal finances, it’s time to start shopping around for alternatives. Thanks to sites like NerdWallet, which have been featured in the New York Times, comparison shopping doesn’t need to be a painful experience. Instead, you can quickly see how other available options compare to what you’re getting from your current bank.

Not Being Prepared for an Emergency

Saving money is a big part of being financially stable. However, if you’re just getting started with saving, it can take time to build up a sizable account. A common and potentially major mistake is not having a plan in the event that something unexpected happens while building up a savings account. Whether it’s a medical emergency or some type of other unexpected expense, being caught without enough savings or a backup plan can choke off people’s cash-flow.

The good news is once you realize you need one, it’s not difficult to come up with a backup plan. For example, if you own a car, companies like InstaLoan.com will provide you with a 1st or 2nd lien loan. This will allow you to quickly get up to several thousand dollars. And even though your car will be used as collateral, you’ll be able to continue driving it.

Allowing Credit Card Debt to Accumulate

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Although the amount may not seem that big at first, credit card debt really is toxic. The reason it’s so bad is most people underestimate how long it will take them to repay a balance they decide to carry. But because interest will start piling on and someone may only be able to pay the monthly minimum, that previously small amount can really snowball into something that’s a burden. That’s why the best choice is to avoid taking on credit card debt. And if you currently have any, it should be at the top of your list to eliminate.

Keeping your financial well-being on the right track does take work. But, considering how much easier life is when your bank account isn’t depleted and your credit score is strong, it’s definitely worth taking the necessary steps to steer clear of any financial pitfalls.

Lawrence Moser is a recent college grad. After getting his first freelance writing gigs in college, upon graduating, he decided to turn his passion for this line of work into a full-time career. While it’s definitely hard work, he couldn’t be happier with her decision.