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Spend It and Forget It? 5 Overlooked Money Drains
We’re told repeatedly that to manage our money well, keep a monthly budget. Creating a monthly budget is huge, but what about an end-of-month budget assessment? It’s just as important to plan for your future expenses as it is to evaluate your past transactions. The forgotten “unnecessaries” can put a dent in your budget, especially when hidden expenses continue to add up. See if you can trim your spending before it’s time to budget next:
Unsubscribe and Byeee!
It’s like your birthday every time your Ipsy beauty box ($12/month) or Menlo Club men’s clothing box ($60/month) arrives. Wrapped in a beautiful brown shipping box, the surprises inside are exciting to open. Then beauty products accumulate on your bathroom counters. Dresser drawers barely close as stacks of T-shirts grow. It may be time to audit your subscription services and cancel those that have lost value to you.
Kill the Buzz
Ordering rounds of $9 glasses of wine or $11 cocktails is a great time, until the check arrives. Grocery bills add up too as craft beer regularly makes the grocery list right in between eggs and bread. A spring 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that alcohol expenditures increased 15.3% between 2016 and 2017, which has the highest increase among food, housing, transportation, health care, personal care, education and entertainment expenditures. How much we spend on alcohol — plus rising drink prices — can sober you up right into ditching the booze.
Resist the Sales
A sale might be a steal, but is it a need? Special discounts are a financial trap, tricking you into buying something because it’s on sale. Your finances can really take a hit as you habitually take advantage of every deal that comes your way. If you love a good bargain, opt out of all marketing emails with announcements like “limited time offer!” or “buy one get one free!” During moments of weakness, think of retailers as predators out to get your money, and turn a blind eye to the temptation. Sales are designed to be savings, but remember, you’re ultimately still spending money.
Quit the Pick-Me-Ups
A small bag of chips from the vending machine or afternoon latte seems harmless. But once you rely on these snacks as everyday stress relievers, distractions or an energy source, your money starts to slip away without noticing. To stop munching at work, keep your wallet in your car or take a break that doesn’t involve a treat. Turn your phone off and only look at it during an intentional break away from your desk. This way, reading an article or watching a video feels more enjoyable.
DIY Your Car
Car ownership is a major money drain, from insurance and gas to repairs and maintenance. AAA’s “Your Driving Costs” study found that it’ll cost an average of $1,186 annually for maintenance and repair. According to another AAA survey, one-third of U.S. drivers can’t afford an unforeseen repair.
Rather than leaving unexpected maintenance to a pricey dealership, research how to’s on Google and YouTube to see if you can service your vehicle yourself. Also, ask around for an affordable local mechanic or hire someone you know and trust to do the work. Save even more by bartering and offering home-cooked meals, for example, in exchange for the less expensive services.
Where does my money go?! At the end of the month, comb through your transactions line by line. Identify hidden expenses and those that sneak up on you. Then instead of stressing about where your money goes, ask “where can I cut costs?” You may feel a loss at first, but think of the financial gains. It didn’t seem like it, but you can live without it after all.