It happens to everyone: opening up your wallet to find it empty when you could have sworn you just visited the ATM. On any given day, there are a number of ways we can leak money – most of them without us even realizing it happened. Take a look at these five money-suckers. Are any of them affecting you?
Last week I was at the grocery store looking at bagged spinach. I noticed that the family size bag was only $.75 more than the smaller one, and it had twice as much of the good stuff inside. I’d be silly to not get the bigger one, right? Not necessarily.
Researchers have found that when we think we’re getting a good deal, we tend to go overboard on purchasing groceries, especially when it comes to perishables. While buying in bulk is great if you have a large family, more often than not, some of these purchases usually end up in the trash because they expire before we can use them all.
To save on these food purchases, take your time in the produce section. Are you sure that you’ll be able to use the entire item before it goes bad? If not, you’re probably better off buying a smaller size and using all of it rather than throwing the excess. Personally, there are few things that upset me more than throwing away food. Also, take advantage of your freezer. It’s not just for ice and frozen pizza. Meat, bread, and even fresh fruit can stay preserved for a later time if stored properly.
Unless your engine specifically calls for premium gasoline, spending the additional cents for it is probably just throwing your money away. The experts at Consumer Reports say most engines are designed to take regular gas, with an octane rating of about 87. Over the course of a year, at today’s pump prices, you could save over $250 by simply switching to regular unleaded. (Of course, if your engine does require premium gasoline, don’t try to cut corners by putting in regular. The potential mechanic bills are definitely not worth the savings.)
Having the newest and greatest gadgets might make you the envy of all your friends, but you’ll pay for that distinction. Many companies inflate prices for first edition gadgets, but prices often drop after a few months. Consider waiting until at least the second generation of the gadget has emerged before you decide to purchase. All the bugs have been fixed and prices have come down.
If you absolutely have to have it and can’t wait, shop around and try to find a retailer that is offering a deal. Since first generation products rarely go on sale, retailers such as Target will often offer a store gift card with the purchase to encourage consumers to buy from them rather than online. While the gift card won’t make the item any cheaper, it will help pay for any accessories that you will undoubtedly buy to complement it!
Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves for a minute. Just how often are you squeezing in that trip to the gym? If you rarely are able to make it there, you’re probably better off to drop the membership, especially during the summer months. It’s easy to work out at home when the weather is nice, so consider taking what you would spend on membership fees and splurging on a decent bicycle or other fitness item for an activity you enjoy.
Once winter settles in, you can always revisit your situation and decide if you would get use out of your membership should you rejoin. If you do decide that you need to get that membership again, it may be worth waiting until December to re-enroll. Many gyms offer great deals on enrollment fees for the new year.
If I told you I would give you $20 if you gave me $25 as an even trade, would you take me up on my offer? I sure hope not!
Paying ATM fees for machines that are out of your network is no different than my shady offer. If you visit the ATM twice a week and pay a $3 fee each time, over the course of the year you will spend $312. Eliminate these fees by planning ahead. Take out money while you are at a machine in your network, and make a promise to yourself that you will stick to that amount. Once the cash is gone, you’ll have to wait until your next visit to your in-network machine. Not only will you eliminate those pesky fees, you’ll also curb any impulse spending that can pop up when you know there’s an ATM nearby. Double win!
Eliminating just one of these items could make a big difference in your budget by Labor Day. What are some money-suckers that you have found? Let us know in the comments.