A tight financial plan means not only more security, less debt and an earlier retirement — it also means more day-to-day money for the activities you enjoy. That’s because tight financial plans prevent unintended money leaks that deplete your bank account without enriching your life in any meaningful way.
Tightening your financial plan is a matter of finding those drains and plugging them. This keeps your money where it belongs: in your pocket, where you can spend it intentionally and intelligently. Consider these eight common money wasters, and what you can do to control them.
The Drain: We all need certain utilities and services, but many families spend $100 or more monthly on services they don’t need and rarely use.
The Plug: Audit your service bills every quarter. Eliminate those you don’t use, and reduce those that are too large for your needs.
2. New Cars
The Drain: A new car costs disproportionately more than a quality used model, and starts to lose its value as soon as you drive it off the lot.
The Plug: Buy cars that are new to you, from reputable dealers with a free warranty.
3. Eating Out
The Drain: Eating out as a treat is fine, but eating out every day for lunch and hitting the drive-through several times a week has become the default meal plan for many families.
The Plug: Learn to cook in. Home-cooked meals are less expensive and healthier than eating out — and faster, once you’ve got the hang of it.
4. Extended Warranties
The Drain: They seem like a good idea: an offer where the store or manufacturer will repair or replace equipment or appliances for free months or even years after purchase.
The Plug: These are a profit point, not a service feature. The price is calibrated to cost you more than you would spend on repairs. If something critical breaks, dip into your emergency fund, which earns you interest every month you don’t use it.
The Drain: Some insurance is necessary, even mandatory for your auto or home loan. Other insurance is an unneeded waste of cash. Even policies you do need might be larger than necessary, or cost far more than your competitors.
The Plug: Know how much you spend each month on your insurance, and comparison shop every year or two. Seriously consider eliminating insurance other than term life, health, disability, auto and home.
6. Late and Overdraft Fees
The Drain: A typical late fee on your credit card or overdraft fee from your bank can increase your effective interest rate to over 100% of the purchase.
The Plug: Automate and organize your finances so you won’t overdraft or miss payments.
7. Impulse Buys
The Drain: Unnecessary and unplanned purchases, either made while shopping for other items or when contacted by a solicitor.
The Plug: Shop with a list. If you see an unplanned item you simply have to have, only buy it if you can eliminate items of equal value from the list. Never buy from a solicitor during the first conversation.
8. Brand Name Products
The Drain: National brand products — especially medications — can cost up to double or more what you would spend on a generic or store brand.
The Plug: Don’t be a snob. Compare the generic brands in the aisle against the national brands. The extra money those big names put into their packaging shows up on the price tag.
What are your tips for not wasting money?
Photo Credit: shell belle