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5 Very Specific And Extremely Common Mistakes We're All Guilty Of Making

I have a lot of bad habits -- we all do. Lately, however, I’ve noticed five specific bad habits of which so many of us are guilty. We must stop doing the following five things:

1. Not spending 0.99 on smartphone app.

I closed out of the App Store on my iPhone after I saw it wanted to charge me $0.99 to download something. Only later did I realize how ridiculous this was.

Earlier that day, I spent $2.10 on a Starbucks coffee, then $12 on lunch plus a couple bucks for the tip. I had no guilt or second thoughts about those expenses, but I was paralyzed when deciding whether or not I should buy the $0.99 phone app.

This happened because I was comparing the cost to other apps, which are usually free. I wasn’t focusing on the value I would get from the app over its lifetime; surely, that value would be worth more than $0.99.

This isn’t just about phone apps, however. Many times, you focus on short-term costs associated with something without factoring in long-term value. Often time, you'll find it simply pays to buy things.

2. Gift cards as gifts.

Last year, I bought someone an Amazon gift card for a holiday gift exchange and the other person bought me another gift card to one of my favorite retail stores. We might as well have just exchanged $20 bills.

I remember going to birthday parties as a kid after thinking long and hard about what gift to buy the other person. At some point, I started getting lazy and giving gift cards as gifts. A Sam Goody gift card became my go-to gift.

How did this trend start?

It turns out, Blockbuster was the first store to offer gift cards back in 1993 and others followed suit. Blockbuster created a monster with this awful trend.

The punishment is that the store is now out of business. It’s easier than ever to enter someone’s email and hit “send” to give a gift card, but a little creative thought and personalization goes a long way.

3. Saying "something came up" at the last minute and not attending a prior commitment.

Once, I organized a meetup at a coffee shop for a few acquaintances. Nobody showed up and I ended up reading alone.

Sure enough, I got a lot of messages at the last minute and they all said the same thing: “Something came up and I can’t make it.”

I talked to someone who organizes a lot of events and she identified this excuse as her pet peeve. If people realized how much work goes into planning an event, they probably wouldn’t do it.

Sure, things come up, but “something” is usually just being lazy, tired, not feeling like going and masking it all under the guise of “being busy,” which is more socially acceptable than the former reasons.

There’s the old adage that supports underpromising and overdelivering. The same goes for invitations. You’re usually doing the organizer a favor by saying you can’t go — for whatever reason — as early as possible.

4. Ordering take out when there’s a fridge full of groceries.

I used to buy groceries every week and say to myself, “I’m finally going to start cooking this week!”

Then, the week would arrive; I’d come home tired, plop down on the couch and reach for the takeout menu to order something. Meanwhile, the lettuce in the fridge was turning into a green pile of mush and the bread was growing small animals on it.

Thus, I’d have to throw everything out at the end of the week.

Sure enough, I’d buy more groceries and repeat the cycle, week after week. The solution? Buy takeout. Or buy groceries and cook them. Whichever you choose, don’t get takeout when groceries are wilting away in the fridge.

5. Going back to safe, potentially toxic situations.

I have the bad good habit of burning bridges in jobs and relationships. Not just lightly charring them, but lining them with C4 and blowing them to smithereens beyond recognition, beyond repair.

So, I basically had nothing to which I could look forward, and was forced to move forward into the unknown without looking back.

On the other hand, other people I know would escape toxic situations and go back when things didn’t work out as planned. Sometimes, toxic is safe and life is hard. I’ll get rejected or fail at something and then I’ll start thinking that I don’t deserve much. It’s best to go after what you want, not what you think you deserve.

Most things don’t work out, but that’s okay because other things will… as long as you keep moving forward.