We all hope for a life of financial security and freedom to enjoy some of the luxuries of life. For that to happen, what we spend must be less than the money we earn. What may sound like a simple concept may be hard, especially in a culture of immediate gratification, but not impossible.
The typical consumer unnecessarily wastes a lot of money on many things, dramatically impacting his or her ability to save for long-term financial goals. Take a look at the items on this list and see if you can make some smart cuts in your discretionary spending.
1. Financial Fees
Credit card fees, bank overdrafts, and ATM fees literally suck money out of your account. Credit card late fees can be as much as $39, though the most a card issuer can charge for the first late payment is $27. Overdraft charges run between $15 and $39 per violation. ATM fees can also add up. Banks not in your ATM network charge up to $3.50 per transaction and your bank can add on a similar fee for using a non-network machine. Non-bank ATMs may charge up to $10 per transaction.
Solution: Better time and money management will help you stop wasting money in these areas. If your paycheck cycle doesn’t coincide with the due dates of your bills, ask for a bill adjustment. Most credit card companies and some utilities will change the due date for customers with good credit. Use a debit card and write the withdrawal amount in a ledger in your wallet so you can avoid overdraft fees.
2. Snacks and Beverages
A single cup of coffee from Starbucks can cost over $5, while you’ll pay between $1 and a little over $3 at McDonald’s, so having a daily coffee cup habit can definitely put a big dent in your budget. Vending machine snacks, retail coffee, and nutrition bars aren’t cheap either. It’s easy to spend up to $7 a day – or more! – on these items.
Solution: Buy in bulk. If you can’t do without your morning caffeine fix and your crunchy afternoon snacks, invest in a bag of gourmet coffee and a box of bagged goodies. You can get a pound of Starbucks Pike Place Roast for about $13, and you can make 82 cups of coffee with it. Bagged snack chips are available in packages of 20 and you can get them from Walmart for between $5 and $8. That’s much better than paying around $1 per pack from the vending machine.
3. Phone Services
Multiple cell phones, text messaging services, data plans, plus a home phone and home Internet – this kind of connectivity really adds up. In the U.S., people spend an average of $1,000 per year per person on cell service alone, and a chunk …