Almost everyone allows for a few leaks in the budget; paying late fees, spending too much on parties, buying things on impulse. If you’re serious about saving, plugging up a few leaks will add up to cash you can stash.
Kiplinger’s, the money mag, recently updated its annual list of top money wasters:
- Buying at the wrong time – Clothing goes on sale at the end of each season. Electronics are cheap around Black Friday – and furniture may be discounted as much as 60 per cent in July and January before new designs come in. Timing your purchases, whatever they are, can net you sizable savings.
- Tossing food based on expiration date – Most foods are perfectly edible five to seven days past the sell-by date. Take a sniff or a taste before you toss it.
- Paying checking account fees – There are still banks offering totally free checking – community banks and credit unions especially. Do the research and stash the monthly fees you won’t be paying.
- Not adjusting the thermostat – If you leave the house for eight hours or more, raise or lower the temperature by 10 degrees and note the difference in your bill.
- Shopping at the wrong store – It’s convenient to buy everything you need in one trip to the supermarket. But you’ll save big if you take the time to shop for paper goods, grooming aids, and cleaning supplies at the dollar store and produce at the local farmer’s market. And check the drug store ads for come-on prices each week on a wide variety of merchandise.
- Buying brand names instead of generic – Generic products cost up to 80 percent less than comparable brand names – and you may not notice much difference in quality.
- Passing up tax breaks – There’s a good chance you’re among millions of taxpayers who overlook deductions they’re entitled to. Save receipts, don’t leave filing to the last minute, and pay a few bucks to a tax advisor who may help you save even more.
- Leaving money in low interest accounts – If your savings account pays next to nothing, you are throwing money away. Look for the highest yields on CDs and money market funds, including online accounts.
- Paying ATM fees – Switch to a bank that charges no ATM fees. If you can’t find one nearby, get cash back when buying something at the supermarket.
By Barbara Pronin