12 Habits That Are Costing You Money
Ever wonder why your bank account is never as full as you’d like it to be? If you’re not splurging on big purchases, taking exotic vacations, or dining at fancy restaurants, it could be because you’ve picked up a few bad habits that are costing you money. Here are 12 behavior patterns you should avoid if you’re trying to conserve cash.
1. BUYING COFFEE
Americans spend an average amount of $21.32 per week on beverages brewed at a coffee shop. By purchasing a to-go cup and a French press (or taking advantage of your office’s communal coffee pot), you could save $1108.64 over the course of one year.
2. SKIPPING THE GYM
Whether you belong to a discount chain gym or a pricey designer fitness boutique, you’re still squandering cash if you’re sitting at home instead of lifting weights or going to yoga class. The average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58, and studies indicate that about $39 of that goes to waste due to underutilization.
3. HITTING THE ATM
While it’s always good to have extra cash in your wallet, minor ATM fines add up over time. The average fee to withdraw funds from an ATM that’s not affiliated with your bank is $4.52 (seriously!). If that’s not enough to curb your trips to the ATM, know that Americans spent $7 billion on ATM fees in 2010.
According to national statistics, the average American devotes 1 percent of all their spending—that’s $1 of every $100—to alcohol. Restaurants or bars are expensive, but even by drinking a $15 bottle of wine at home every weekend you’re still spending more than $60 per month.
5. GOING OUT FOR LUNCH
A few years ago, one major credit card company surveyed 1003 adults across America. On average, they went out to lunch twice a week and spent $10 each time. If they had brown-bagged it, they could have saved $20 a week.
6. OVERDRAWING YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT
While the amount varies from bank to bank, the median nationwide cost of an overdraft fee is $34. Monitor your checking account on a regular basis to make sure you’re not withdrawing too much money. If you’re a repeat offender, consider getting overdraft protection, which links your checking account to a savings account or a line of credit. If your balance is too low, the bank will automatically deposit money from the linked account to your checking. There’s typically a fee for these transfers, but it’s much lower than overdraft fees.
7. PLAYING THE LOTTERY
Even though tickets for the last big jackpot were only $2, your odds of winning were 1 in 292.2 million—the same as your odds of flipping a coin and getting heads 28 times in a row. If splurging on a ticket here and there doesn’t seem like it will break the bank, reflect on the fact that Americans spent $70 billion on lotto games in 2014.
8. TOSSING LEFTOVER FOOD
According to some estimates, the average American tosses 20 percent of the food he or she buys at the supermarket into the garbage. This wasteful habit ends up costing them $375 per year.
9. AVOIDING THE AUTO SHOP
Skimping on vehicle maintenance can cost you big time. Americans spend over $2 billion each year on major repairs or other related costs because they don’t change dirty or low-level fluids or replace filters, belts, and hoses.
10. PAYING YOUR CREDIT CARD BILLS LATE
Typically, credit card companies charge you a $25 to $35 fee per late payment—not to mention the havoc it’s wreaking on your credit. If you consistently forget to pay your card bills on time, think about setting up calendar alerts, or arrange for automatic payments.
11. AVOIDING YOUR STUDENT LOANS
With interest rates ranging from 4 to 7 percent, federal student loans can quickly snowball out of control if you don’t make regular payments. (Interest rates for private loans can run even higher.)
12. BUYING NAME-BRAND PRODUCTS
While brand recognition is reassuring, many generic food products, medicines, and household products are just as good as their fancily packaged counterparts. They’re way cheaper, too.