Stop wasting money and having it fall through the cracks
18 Ways Money Slips Through Your Fingers
by Marianne Giullian
18 Things You're Wasting Money On
Become a Use-It-Up Cook
There are times in our lives when money slips through our fingers. It may be because we aren't organized, we procrastinate, or we don't jump on an opportunity before the chance goes by. Here are some ways of wasting money and having it slip through our fingers:
- Cafeteria Plan: Many work places have a plan where you can reduce your taxes by putting money aside to use for medical or child care expenses. Monitor your balance and plan how to use any surplus, so you don't lose more than you save on taxes.
- Coupons: Have you ever gone shopping and forgotten to give the cashier your coupons? Figure out a way to remember to redeem coupons. For example, put a post it note on your debit card or cash.
- Rebates: Many stores and companies offer rebates when you buy their merchandise. Be prompt in mailing in rebates or you may lose the opportunity.
- Reusable Bags: Some stores offer incentives (up to 25 cents per bag of items purchased) for bringing in your own bag. You also help the environment.
- Lost Items: I once helped a woman move who owned 13 pairs of scissors. She bought a new pair if she couldn't find them when she needed them. Having a designated place for things and taking the time to put everything in its place will save you money by eliminating the need to buy doubles.
- Gift Cards: Have you ever been given a gift card? Did you lose it before it was redeemed? This is another way to let money slip through their fingers.
- Failure to Plan Ahead: Do you use time and gas making extra trips because of poor planning? Substitute or go without instead of making one more trip to the store.
- Expired Food: Are you wasting money by not using the food in your cupboards before it expires? Do you have bread or leftovers molding in your fridge? Clean your fridge regularly each week and have a special shelf for leftovers. For bread, leave out only what you will eat before it molds and freeze the rest. For canned items, write enlarged expiration dates on cans with a sharpie so they are easily visible. Rotate cans and put the ones that expire first in the front. Plan meals around items that need to be used. You aren't saving money if food ends up being thrown out.
- Expense Accounts: Some work places give their employees expense accounts that they can use through the year. Be aware of your balance so you won't end up losing it at the end of the year.
- Grocery/Club Cards: Some stores offer club cards that offer members reduced prices. Make sure to use your card or give your phone number to get the proper discount.
- Buy the Right Size and Amount: One grocery store had a special going where if you bought five items, you got five dollars off. It was cheaper to buy five than to buy two or three during these sales. Check to make sure you have the right size and number of items or you won't get the bargain price.
- Library Fines: Using a library saves you money unless you lose or turn the books in late. Save the library receipt to know how many books need to be turned in and write down when they are due on a calendar.
- Tax Refunds: Some people lose money on tax refunds because they are unaware of tax breaks for which they qualify. If you prepare your own taxes, buy a tax software package each year. It can help you make sure you are getting back what is due.
- Credit Cards: Some people let money slip through their fingers by not paying their credit card off in full each month. Others don't send the payment in time and end up paying $25-$40 in late fees. If you are going to use a credit card, send the bill in on time and pay it off in full each month.
- Clutter: When your home is cluttered, you can easily lose important papers. It is hard to keep on top of things when they are not organized. Some people rent storage sheds to get clutter out of sight, but end up paying much more in fees than the stored items are worth. If you have a storage shed, plan a time to clean it out and stop wasting money on storage fees. If you really like what is in storage, find a way to have it in your home. If you aren't that fond of the things anyway, get rid of them by selling or donating them.
- Bank Fees: Keep on top of ATM transactions so you don't end up paying money to get cash. Don't let your checking account get over drawn by writing checks that will bounce. You will have to pay a hefty fee for each bounced check. If you don't have the money in the bank, don't write a check.
- Monthly Fees: Do you belong to a health club? Do you have a newspaper or magazine subscription? If you do, do you use the club or read the magazine regularly? If not, cancel your subscription and stop wasting money. Check your credit card statement carefully each month for recurring items you might have forgotten about.
- Update Your Insurance Occasionally: Are you still paying for insurance premiums for married children or on cars that have been sold? Check your insurance policies regularly to see if you need to make some changes.
There are many ways that money can slip through our fingers. By following these guidelines, you can avoid some of the pitfalls and stop wasting money.
Marianne Giullian is also responsible for SpendWise.org.
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