Are you looking to shave a few hundred bucks off your monthly expenses? Though there are plenty of ways you can save money, such as clipping coupons and searching for sales, what we fail to realize is that our spending habits are completely under our control. Though there are things you can’t go without, if you take a thorough look at your spending patterns lately, you’ll probably find a few things that you’ve been doing wrong.
By nipping bad habits in the bud you can save more money and improve your financial status. Here are a few things that we realized we needed to change:
- Not Budgeting – There was a time when I hated budgeting. The very idea of having to sit down and determine what needed to be paid and how much money I had to pay it was daunting. So we didn’t budget. The problem with this is that we were haphazardly spending money and had no idea where it went. Budgeting allows you to track your finances while also pointing out areas where you can save.
- Ignoring Calls from Bill Collectors – No one wants to hear that they have a past due balance – especially when you don’t have the means to pay it back. Naturally, you make the assumption that if you ignore the bill collectors long enough, they’ll disappear (along with the debt). The truth is, ignoring them only makes the problem worse. The longer a bill goes unpaid, the more fees are tacked on which could easily drain your budget. If you’re experiencing tough times, inform the bill collector of this and find out if there are other options for paying off the debt.
- Not Comparison Shopping – I know I’ve been guilty of this more times than I can count. You make an impulsive purchase without comparing offers. For instance, for the past year we were paying more than $150 a month for cable and Internet services. Little did I know that with a bit of comparison shopping I could have found Direct TV deals that include television and Internet services for a fraction of the cost. Comparison shopping can save you a great deal of money so always do your due diligence prior to making a purchase.
- Failing to Keep up with Maintenance (car and home) – Another weak area for us was maintenance. I was guilty of waiting until the last minute to have the car, heat, or air conditioner serviced. As a result, we ended up having to invest in new appliances and a new car a lot sooner. Not to mention the fact that maintenance and repair costs were a lot more. Staying on top of maintenance on your car and your home will ensure that you get the most value out of your belongings before you need to replace them.
- Eating Out Too Much – I don’t know how many times I’ve been so busy that I would take the kids to a fast food restaurant for a quick bite to eat. In my mind they were ordering from the dollar menu so it couldn’t be too expensive. Well, if you’ve ever checked your bank statement at the end of the month, those dollars start to add up. Prepping meals on the weekend is often an easier way to save money.
- Using Any Old ATM – I was a member of a bank that didn’t have many branches near my home, so I’d simply withdraw funds from any ATM near me. The problem with this is that there are ATM fees involved. According to Bankrate, the average ATM fee in 2013 was about $3. If you add to that the out-of-network fee your bank charges (ours was $1.95 per transaction), you’re looking at a total of $4.95 every time you withdrawal funds from your account. You may not think this adds up to much, but if you’re like me and take funds out once or twice a week, you’re looking at a whopping average of $20-$40 a month just in fees.
I guess you could say you live and you learn. However, when I actually took the time to evaluate my spending, I was able to find ways to cut back and save hundreds of dollars each year. If you’ve been making any of the same mistakes as me, it’s probably a good idea to correct it. The better you are at handling your finances, the more peace of mind you have. More importantly, the better example you can set for your children.