You do a budget and count your pennies, but your money still doesn’t stretch as far as you’d like. As financial coaches, we tell our clients all the time to cut down on dining out, entertainment and other discretionary spending in order to get debt free or establish an Emergency Fund. But there may some less obvious money-wasters in your life that stealthily break your bank. Save more money by paying attention to these 9 potential money-wasters.
If I asked you to fill out a simple form and, in return, I would give you $50, would you do it? One would think so. Yet an estimated 60% of mail-in rebates are never redeemed. That could be $5, $50 or even $100 you’re leaving on the table. Fill out and mail in the rebate form as soon as you get home from the store. Don’t procrastinate and you won’t waste this money.
Stephanie Nelson of CouponMom.com estimates that the average, non-extreme “couponer” saves $50 on groceries and $25 at the drugstore per week. Take 10-15 minutes per week to check your local newspaper, mail ads and any number of coupon websites. Start a “Coupon Club” with friends at work. If all else fails, simply ask the cashier if there are any coupons or discounts for your purchase.
Overlooked Tax Breaks
If you’ve been taking your standard deductions, 2012 is a great year to re-evaluate and determine if you could save more by itemizing. If you own a business, you can itemize most business expenses. Also consider any tax-deductible donations you’ve made to your church or other charities.
Spending With No Rewards
For decades, credit card companies have lured unsuspecting victims into their traps with airline miles, free t-shirts or tickets to the zoo. When I signed up for my first credit card, they gave me a Frisbee. If you’re reading this, you already know you don’t have to play the debt game to take advantage of these kinds of perks. If you aren’t using your PerkStreet debit card to earn cash back, you’re leaving money on the table. It’s that simple.
Life Insurance Scams
Life insurance is an absolute must! But there are more bogus money-wasters in the name of life insurance than you might imagine. Credit life insurance and mortgage life insurance are a complete waste of cash. Whole life insurance – a plan marketed as life insurance that doubles as a retirement savings plan – carries outrageous fees, minimal returns, and, when you die, your family doesn’t even inherit the investment growth. Stop wasting money on these bad ideas: Sign up for 20 year, level term life insurance worth 8-10 times your annual income.
Appliance and electronics salespeople might brag for 30 minutes about the dependability of an item, but at the register they try to talk you into buying an extended warranty. How does that make sense? An extended warranty typically costs 15-20% of the item’s cost, just to extend a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty through the fifth year of ownership. Most major appliances don’t break down within the warranty period and, when they do, the cost of repairs averages about the same amount you paid for the warranty, according to a survey by Consumer Reports. Skip the warranty and save some cash.
Late Fees on Bills
If your financial filing system is a mess of envelopes scattered throughout the house, it’s time to get organized! If you miss a credit card payment by even 1 day, you’ll pay a $25 late fee. Or if you do pay everything on time, but aren’t paying attention to your bank account balance, you could end up with an overdraft charge of $45. Set aside time each week to review your bills and pay those that are due that week.
At the peak of our financial irresponsibility, we spent almost $800/month in groceries – for two people! It was good old’ fashioned laziness. We never planned meals and we allowed huge amounts of food to spoil. Spend time each week planning your meals and grocery list, including taking time to evaluate what food you already have in the house.
Ever wonder why there are always chips, candy bars and sodas in the checkout area of a grocery store? The store is banking on your impulses. Electronics stores, car dealerships, the mall – basically the entire retail and advertising industries bank on your impulses. Turn the tables. Never go shopping without a list of exactly what you intend to buy. Considering a large purchase? Follow the 3-day rule: Step away from the sales counter and wait 3 days before you buy. Often times, this “cooling off period” will change your mind about the purchase.
You work too hard to flush money away. Beware of these 9 huge money-wasters, follow these tips and stop wasting money!
PerkStreeters, where are some stealthy places you’ve found extra cash to stow away and save? Share in our comments section below.
Have a tricky question Clint and Katy can answer about your finances?
Email it to Editors@PerkStreet.com
Clint and Katy Davis are PerkStreet Customer Columnists and founders of Davis Coaching. As financial coaches, their passion is helping people become and stay debt free! Their personalized coaching is designed to help you get your financial life where you want it to be. Like personal trainers for your finances, they can help you develop a specific plan to achieve your goals, and provide the expertise and accountability to get you there. If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, visit Davis Coaching online, check out the Davis Coaching blog, and connect with Clint and Katy on Twitter and Facebook.