7 Money Wasters With Simple Fixes
Ok folks, here it is. Your regular reminder that you should pack your lunch every day. Kidding! While there are some obvious tips in this post, you might not be conscious of the other times you spend money, or maybe you THINK you’re being frugal but it turns out not to be the case. The reason this is so important is that many of us, whether we like to or not, spend money multiples times a week, if not on days (I try not to spend on Minimum Money Monday’s, Wallet Working Wednesday’s, and Thrifty Thursdays. Oh Also Frugal Fridays and Stingy Saturdays; kidding again!). So, what better ways to save than on the things you spend your hard-earned money on so regularly? We are also going to go over ways to integrate these tips more easily into your schedule, so you are more conscious of spending and make it easier on yourself to be able to save money in the first place.
1) Gas - If you're headed to a dentist appointment or errand on the far side of town, can you get other things down while you're there, like return that pair of shoes or get your groceries at the same time? Even better if you have an electric car, scooter, bike, walk or take transit. Gas has a good chance of increasing in price with additional infrastructure projects and bills going on, plus with additional taxes and regulation, it might get more expensive even with more supply as we transition to a more carbon-free economy. Even if you live in the suburbs, you’d be surprised to find bus stations close by, and many cities are modernizing their fleets for more comfortable, safe, and efficient vehicles.
2) Bottled Water/Drinks - Easy one, just fill up your Nalgene or Hydro Flask and it will be your saving grace when you are running around all day. Our bodies need water more than anything, and I personally fill up my Nalgene bottle at least 6 times a day. Now that festivals and events are coming back, be on the lookout for free reusable water bottles from vendors, or just buy a quality one like Nalgene/Hydroflask that you can use for your everyday needs. Being properly hydrated is imperative for health and productivity! If you want to reward yourself once in a while with a fancy oat milk latte, that’s completely ok, as long as you are not mindlessly buying $5 bottles of some sugary drink or a fancy "Purified" water at the convenience store. Plus, you are helping our enormous plastic pollution problem by not chucking something you've used for only 10 minutes just so it can lay in a landfill for 500+ years.
3) Scoffing at Lists - Many of us go to the store and forget if we have any oat flour or dishwasher detergent. Did I buy a basket of strawberries on Thursday? Take a quick inventory of your home before you head out, even a picture of your pantry and fridge if you’re in a rush. It’s not such a big deal with dry goods like flour or nuts (although it might entice you to bake more so you can “use it up”. Cookies and cakes aren’t the worst problems for your wallet, for your health is a different story!) However, when you buy expensive fish again, or an organic tub of pre-cut tropical fruit, that can go bad faster before you can use it, so it’s money down the drain (or down the compost bucket ideally). Remember, you can always freeze some perishables so you don’t waste it, that's where those Stasher bags come into good use!
4) Not using Gift cards, Rewards, and Points - Be sure to keep gift cards in a safe place in your wallet or bedroom. Or sell them on a site like CardCash if you don't plan to go there. Check your credit card and loyalty program rewards each month to make sure they don't go to waste to reduce the cost of your next purchase before they expire. One thing you can also do is take pictures of digital and physical gift cards in case you lose them or are unable to find them at some point. If you go to a certain place more often, like a particular grocery store, you can keep those cards in the front of your wallet to make sure you use them up. Figuring out a restaurant to go to for a friend’s birthday? Look through your gift card box and pick one out of there. Some places even will cash out your cards under a certain balance, so be sure to ask.
5) Missing Deadlines - If you pay bills late or too close to the deadline, you'll incur late charges and it could affect your credit. Any bills or invoices that come in, as soon as you receive them, schedule automatic bill pay. Schedule your bills to be paid automatically or schedule a recurring calendar reminder to pay them if auto bill pay is not an option. Pay the invoice as soon as it comes in the mail. Late fees can easily compound, and some municipalities and large companies are not motivated to give you a break, because it’s income for them and they are not as reliant on impeccable reviews for finding new customers. If you ever miss a payment, just call them and ask for a one-time exception, leveraging your pretty much impeccable record. However, don’t expect this to happen every time. Plus, if you’re late consistently, in addition to wasting money, it can even affect your credit.
6) Procrastinating - Whether it's booking plane tickets, ordering something you need by a certain date, or reserving a service, scheduling a time each week to knock out your to-do's for the next month will save you money. Make a habit of doing things ahead of time to ensure you don’t let an important, money-related task fall through the cracks. Use tools like Skyscanner to track flight prices ahead of time, schedule some time during the week to do things like reviewing your monthly transactions, and look at your schedule for the next 3-6 months for any purchases you need to make. Going to a birthday party in a month? Plan out what you want to buy now, rather than grabbing something at retail price the day of. Car needs new tires? Comparison shop and research coupons, before you’re forced to pay a tow truck and premium price for the dealership to do it for you.
7) Forgetting snacks - We've all been there when we've been running around all day and head into a Starbucks or gas station to fuel up, paying top dollar for mediocre food. Don't you just love crusty, sugar-laden dried fruit for $5.99? Pack some health bars, fruit, or trail mix in your car or go-bag so you have something healthy and cost-effective. You can get these snazzy Stasher bags to put some nuts, trail mix, or whatever protein and fiber-rich snack you fancy. Don't forget to replenish it! You can also make your own easy snacks like these oat balls that are healthy and will fill you up, or just order in bulk from a place like Costco and keep the box in your car or one always in your bag to keep your belly jolly when you’re on the go.