Is your wallet leaking?
Consumer spending plays an integral role in health of the economy, but that doesn’t mean you should spend your pennies unwisely. Here are eight ways you may be wasting money and how to stop.
Buying Bottled Water
According to the EPA, tap water costs slightly more than $2 per 1,000 gallons—yet you can pay up to $2 for a 16-ounce bottle of water. Save yourself money by purchasing a stainless steel water bottle (we found eco-friendly, BPA free bottles for less than $5 on Amazon.com) and refill with much cheaper tap water.
Always Buying Name Brand
Generic labels do not always mean lower quality, especially when it comes to prescriptions. The FDA requires generic drugs to have the same quality and performance as brand-name drugs, so you get the same benefits for an average of 80-85% less.
Not Getting a 401(k) Match
Don’t tarnish your golden years with money worries. If your company offers a 401(k) plan sign up and be sure to contribute at least up to the percentage that your employer matches.
Getting High-Octane Gas
Gas prices are back on the rise, with the Labor Department reporting the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gas in the country was $3.82 in June. Many gas stations offer higher octane gas for much higher prices, but findings from the FTC show a higher octane have no added benefits. However, check your owner's manual for the required octane level for your car.
Drinking and smoking adds up—both at the time of consumption and possibly down the road for long-term health-care problems. You could shell out up to $11 in some state for a pack of cigarettes and up to $14 (or more) for a top shelf beverage at a bar. Here’s how it breaks down: Let's say you have a one-pack a day habit, at $10.50 per pack, you're wasting over $3,800 per year and put yourself at risk for lung cancer and other lung diseases.
Shopping without a List Grocery
Retailers are smart, and they know where to place merchandise to best entice customers to buy them. Impulsive purchases happen, but experts say having a list when shopping can reduce the urge to place unlisted items in a cart. To help reduce your grocery bill, plan out meals and food needs, take stock of what you already have and then sort through the weekly flyers to find which store(s) are offering the best deals on your needs.
Always pay your bills on time—don’t give your credit card company or other lenders extra money just for being late. Always strive to pay balances off in full to avoid paying interest, but if that’s not possible, at least pay the minimum to avoid late fees.
Not Having a Coin Jar
Carrying change can be a burden, especially for men, but it has value that can really add up. Experts suggest empty out all the change from your pockets and wallet (except for maybe a dollar or two) and put it into a jar. Treat it as an investment, get your kids in on the action, and use the change at the end of the year to go on vacation. It could teach them simple money management skills.
We all have leaks in our budget that drain our hard-earned money without us even noticing. It’s time to identify and plug the holes.