TikTok’s Humphrey Yang Claims These 11 Money Habits Keep You Poor


SolStock / iStock.com

SolStock / iStock.com

If you’re like many Americans, you might be living from paycheck to paycheck. Not only does this make it challenging to save for your financial goals, but it increases the risk that you get into debt and lose more cash to fees and interest. Often, you can better take control of your finances by correcting some common poor money habits.

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Having worked as a financial advisor, Humphrey Yang is now known for his personal finance videos on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. In a June 2023 YouTube video, he broke down these 11 money habits that keep you poor and what you should do instead.

1. Buying Things for Status

Yang cautioned against buying costly items just to look better or wealthier than others. He gave an example of buying a luxury car as a status symbol and ending up with a $1,000 car payment. This only drains your budget. Instead, you could get a more practical, affordable car that still gets you where you need to go.

2. Trying To Financially Keep Up With Friends

If you have friends with higher incomes and expensive tastes, you might feel tempted to keep up with them. Yang talked about how he used to go out with a friend who frequented expensive restaurants. Despite earning less than his friend, Yang would spend at least $100 per meal. This shows how important it is to not feel pressured to spend money to fit in with friends and instead consider your financial situation.

3. Using Buy Now, Pay Later Plans

When you check out online, you’ll often see an option to finance your purchase with a buy now, pay later provider such as Affirm or Afterpay. These plans often advertise splitting the amount into convenient installments without interest. However, Yang cautioned against using them due to potentially high late fees and advised only buying items you can afford to pay for right now.

4. Not Saving Cash for the Future

Having savings helps you avoid living from paycheck to paycheck. Yang emphasized how planning is crucial and gave a few savings tips. First, you can use automatic transfers to send part of your paycheck to a savings account. Next, you should watch your bank and credit card statements to carefully track expenses and cut back to contribute more toward your savings.

5. Buying Things on Impulse

Yang talked about how it’s easy to buy things on impulse for your loved ones. This might include picking up your family member a random item at the checkout lane or finding something online that you think your friend would love. Impulse purchases on credit cards are especially bad for your finances due to the interest you can accrue. So, try to avoid unplanned purchases.

6. Making Only Minimum Credit Card Payments

If you’re making only minimum credit card payments, you risk ending up in a “debt spiral.” Yang explained, “That’s where you accrue so much debt that the incoming paychecks that you have aren’t enough to pay off the interest you have on your total debt balance.” Since the interest could double what you pay for a purchase, he recommended paying off credit cards with 18% or higher interest rates versus investing the cash.

7. Choosing Low Price Over Value

Being cheap might seem like a wise decision, but that’s not always the case. Yang discussed getting a $2,500 quote from the dealer for a car repair and choosing a different mechanic who charged just $400. Unfortunately, the mechanic didn’t do a proper repair, so Yang ended up having to pay the dealer for more work anyway. Before going the cheap route, carefully consider that you might save in the long run by paying for better quality.

8. Keeping Unnecessary Subscriptions

Especially when free trials are involved, it’s easy to keep subscriptions you forget about or rarely use. These monthly fees can lead to a lot of wasted money. Yang mentioned that he periodically reviewed his card statements to identify unwanted subscriptions. You can also use apps such as Trim and Hiatus that help you track your subscriptions and find ways to cut costs.

9. Failing To Track Your Expenses

If you don’t track where your money goes, it’s easy to continue bad money habits that keep you poor. Yang discussed the benefits of tracking expenses, including identifying where you spend the most money, creating consistency and becoming better at money management.

If you don’t want to track expenses by hand, you can use budgeting apps that work with your accounts. Keep an eye on poor spending habits to fix so you can have more cash to save or invest.

10. Waiting Too Long To Invest Money

While he recognized it was important to first cover your debts and everyday needs, Yang cautioned against waiting too long to begin growing your wealth through investments. He recommended regularly contributing some of your income to brokerage and retirement accounts as soon as possible since your returns will compound significantly over the years.

11. Not Considering Tax Benefits

Thinking through strategies for minimizing taxes is important for becoming wealthy, so don’t ignore potential tax benefits. Yang suggested using a tax-advantaged retirement account and, if you’re eligible, putting money in a health savings account, taking the mortgage interest deduction and putting your children’s college savings in a 529 plan. Consider speaking with a financial advisor, accountant or tax professional for advice.

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