8 Money Habits That Separate Doers From Dreamers

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When it comes to securing financial security, are you a doer or a dreamer? By definition, financial doers have a better shot at reaching their retirement goals. No real surprise, they also have a much better shot at raising children who are good with money, according to a new survey.

TD Ameritrade separated financial doers from financial dreamers by identifying eight sound money practices. Doers engage in at least five of these behaviors; dreamers engage in just four or fewer. Where do you fit in? The behaviors:

  • Act more like a saver than a spender
  • Live within your means
  • Automatically deposit money into savings each month
  • Stick to a budget
  • Track household expenses
  • Pay off credit card debt in a timely way
  • Regularly contribute to a 401(k)
  • Have contributed to an IRA

In the survey, those who engaged in at least five of these practices – the doers – expressed far greater confidence in their financial future; 80% said they expect to reach their retirement goals vs. just 59% of dreamers with similar expectations. The starkest dividing line: 78% of doers identified themselves as savers vs. just 33% of dreamers who did the same.

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Being responsible with money translates into other healthy habits. Financial doers get health checkups, exercise and eat better more often than dreamers, according to the survey. The wide-ranging salutary effects of systematically working toward financial goals – less stress and better relationships – have surfaced in scientific studies as well.

So, smart financial management isn’t just about making ends meet. It’s about living a healthy life, and getting your kids started down the same path. In the survey, 57% of doers reported that their parents had regular money talks with them while they were young; 77% said their parents helped them set financial goals. Perhaps more important, 74% of financial doers reported that their parents set a good example in such areas as saving and investing, and staying out of debt.

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“Parents have a profound impact on their children in many ways, and financial matters are no different,” Lule Demmissie, managing director at TD Ameritrade, said in a statement. “Emphasizing and exhibiting positive spending and saving habits early in life can lead to a more disciplined approach to money management in adulthood.”