You work hard year round to stay on top of your finances and budget, but there’s always some purchase that puts you over the edge. If you’re not paying attention, chances are you’re also wasting money with fees, overpriced merchandise, and a lost opportunity for rebates on purchases. Need some ways to actually make your budget plan this year? Here are six ways you’re probably wasting your money without knowing it—and what to do about them:
Money Waster #1: Checking account maintenance and ATM fees
There are far too many free checking account offers available, so why settle for a bank that charges a monthly fee? As banks become more competitive, this will slowly start to disappear. In the meantime, make sure you know about your bank’s checking account policy and turn over your accounts to a bank that doesn’t charge maintenance or processing fees. ATM fees can be avoided by using your PIN number at the checkout lane to withdraw cash; at the very least, buy a stick of gum and withdraw any cash amount you need.
Money Waster #2: Leaving your money in your checking account
Transferring your paycheck and other income into a savings or high-yield account will help you earn interest every single day. Don’t leave extra money floating in your checking account; it’s not earning a penny of interest, and you’re much more likely to spend it! Transfer out to a savings, money market, or other interest-bearing account and let it grow with the power of compound interest.
Money Waster #3: Forgetting about rebates
Rebates and cashback discounts are readily available on almost every consumer item; the hard part is keeping track of them and making sure you cash them in on time. Sites such as FatWallet.com can make this whole process much easier, helping you earn cashback bonuses on a purchase from your favorite online store, as well as finding the latest rebates on in-store merchandise. Plan to spend at least a week searching for the best price on high-ticket items; the extra work can really pay off.
Money Waster #4: Coffee from the coffeeshop
If you’re a caffeine addict who makes a frequent stop at the coffeeshop, think of ways you can make your own latte or coffee. The average price for a cup of plain black coffee is $1.50, while a fancy espresso drink can reach upwards of $4-$6. Over the course of a week, you can easily blame $45-$150 of your monthly expenses on coffee; find alternatives and save some of that cash!
Money Waster #5: Eating out for breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and starting off the day with the McMuffin sandwich or bakery donut will cost you more than your health. The average breakfast can range from $1.50-$5 per trip, and this equates to $45-$150 per month. Reallocate your eating out expenses for lunch or dinner instead—meals that aren’t eaten on the run—and opt for healthier starts such as oatmeal or breakfast bars at home. You’ll have more energy and save money in the process.
Money Waster #6: Skipping coupons at the grocery store
While you don’t have to become a crazy coupon-clipper, you can make the most of the weekly deals and sales with a little strategy. Pick up your grocery store’s circular on the way into the store and scan it quickly fro coupons and discounts; not every grocery store advertises their specials down the aisles, so you might miss out on a few discounted brands on your next trip.