Start Saving Money Today–Avoid The Five Biggest Money Wasters!

 

What's Emptying YOUR Wallet?

Several years ago I clicked on a link about wasting money. On the list were several items that seemed very subjective, such as owning of houseplants, or reading magazines. I started searching for more such lists, and found that they all had subjective items on them. No one suggested that having children should be on the list, but some did list pets. The one thing all of these subjective items had in common was that each of them had some intrinsic value. And to the person who values an item it is not a money waster. The other thing about these list was that none of them caught ALL of the real money-wasters. You know, the things that nobody could possibly value. The financial losses that have no bright side. So, here is my list of the true money wasters.

  • Fees or fines for things that are avoidable. This includes parking tickets, tow-away charges, moving violations, and anything else where you run afoul of the law and have to pay when you get caught. What can you do about it? Park somewhere legal, leave earlier, stay sober or find another way home, and obey all traffic laws. It may be inconvenient sometimes, but not as much as paying a big fine or worse.
  • Unused memberships. The biggest offender is the gym membership, but there are others. Are you paying for an online subscription or premium service? You might be paying and not be aware of it, as in the case of 3rd party billing for “premium downloads” that can attach to your cell phone bill without you even being aware of it. To avoid this money drain, take a look at all the things you pay for automatically. Look closely at all your bills to make sure you don’t miss anything. If you aren’t using it, get rid of it. And next time you are tempted to join or subscribe to anything that costs money, think twice. Ask yourself if you have a bad track record. When and how will this new activity fit into your life? Can’t figure it out? Don’t do it!
  • Bank overdraft charges. I am not referring here to charges just to keep an account, though you probably can find a free one if you look. I am talking about what they charge when you write a check you shouldn’t. This may also apply to using your debit or credit card when the money isn’t there as well, though many states now have laws which force the bank to simply decline the card if there are insufficient funds, instead of paying the item and charging you an over-draft fee. To avoid paying any overdraft fees, set up overdraft protection with the bank or simply never go over what you actually have available. It might be a good idea to leave a small cushion just to make sure.
  •  Late fees. If you have any control at all over your cash flow you can avoid late fees. The problem may be that you procrastinate. Procrastination is fine in some situations, but not when it’s costing you. On the other hand, you may be late because you income has dropped. If it is in your monthly budget you should be able to pay for it. If you can’t then you must get rid of it. It may not seem fair. It probably isn’t. But this is the system we live with. If you have experienced a downturn in your financial situation you may start with a pile of bills and get rid of the services one by one. First the premium satellite for your TV, then the memberships to things, all the way down to the car if need be. If you know the difference between a need and a want you’ll know what to do.
  • Disorganization. This causes waste in many ways. It may be buying duplicates of things because you can’t find the first one. It may be massive food waste because you can’t tell what is in your refrigerator and cupboards. It could be paying higher prices because you don’t plan ahead. The only solution is to do an honest evaluation. If you know you are wasting money and overspending because you are disorganized, sit down and think about it. Are there areas where you are doing fine and others where you are suffering from disorganization? Or are you pretty much a mess across the board? Either way, start by trying to get a good friend to help you work on it. It may take a professional organizer in the end if your issue is severe. Just start today if this is you.

There are other behaviors that contribute to wasting money, but these five are the most common offenders. The good news is that all of them are fixable. Just think what you could do with the money you save.

Advertisements

Frugal Housing-How to Cut Your Biggest Single Expense

For most of us, the cost of keeping a roof over our heads eats up a larger portion of our income than any other single item, even food. The cost varies depending on what region you live in and even by neighborhood, but no matter what if your income has gone down recently keeping up can be daunting. The solution depends on a number of variables, including the following: Do you have a family or are you on your own? Do you own or rent? Are you in deep trouble or just feeling a little squeezed? And finally, how far are you willing to go for relief?

Home Sweet Home

The first and easiest solution is to get a housemate. Shared housing used to be just for younger people, mostly in college. But this is no longer the case. If you own your own house or are the master tenant you are in good shape to do this even if you have a family to consider. You will be the one to place an ad in an online bulletin board like craigslist, or a local paper. You will be the one to choose or reject the applicants. You will set the criteria. But be aware that the current economic climate has given you plenty of competition, so be reasonable. Also, be safe. Make a written contract. If you have easy access to a lawyer, ask for help. Or, more frugally, use a Nolo Press guide to housing law, available at a local library or bookstore.

If you are not a home owner, you will be the one answering the ad that someone else published. You will have to convince someone that you will make a good housemate, that you are easy to live with, and that you will pay your share consistently. But don’t give up hope. The people willing to rent a room really do need the money. Having good credit helps, but even if you don’t have it, just be truthful. I know of a case where a recently divorced, recently bankrupt woman found a home by putting her honest story on a local bulletin board, including the fact that she couldn’t afford more than $300 a month in an area where the average room rent was twice that. She had a place within a week. If you have a family it is better to try to rent a whole house and be the one to bring in the housemate, though sometimes a couple can find a room in a house. It is just harder.

There are several other things you can do to cut your housing expense. You could move to a cheaper location. If you live on either coast you are likely paying more than people inland are paying for housing. In California, the Bay Area is a lot more expensive than Fresno for example. There are whole states that have good comparative housing prices. Do the research. Find out what the employment outlook is, as against housing costs. It might seem extreme, but these are extreme times.

If you are a back to the land type and plan on building your own house, consider something small. Smaller houses are more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run. You might even look in to the latest thing-the very small house. There are easy inexpensive kits that you can put together with many fewer resources than convention housing, saving your time, energy and money for other things that matter to you.

Finally you could consider getting involved in an intentional community or co-housing. Intentional communities range from the fairly wild, such as Harbin Hot Springs to the more eco-spiritual, while the co-housing movement picks up where the communes of the sixties left off, but all grown up and without the hassle factor.

The place you choose to call home is a huge factor in the stability and happiness of you and your family’s life. Don’t let the strain of over-spending turn a dream into a nightmare. Take action to get your home life into balance with your wallet as soon as possible. Do this one thing right and many other things will fall into place.

Check out these links for more information:

http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites a complete list, just click on your city

http://www.nolo.com/ legal info including real estate law

http://www.bestplaces.net/col/ in case you are thinking of moving

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/ for building small

http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-One-Room-Cabin-Beyond-American/dp/1577318978/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1288741019&sr=8-1 how one person solved the housing conundrum

http://www.ic.org/ intentional communities

http://www.suite101.com/content/co-housing–a-frugal-solution-to-the-housing-dilemma-a300949 one of my articles

Over-spending

Over-spending is the opposite of frugality. It defines the problem for which frugality is the cure. But, we must clarify. If the spending is on survival items, or even on legitimate needs, it is not over-spending but under-earning that is the culprit. And given the current economic situation, it is likely not your fault. But the problem still remains-should you heat your house or eat? Buy a new tires to replace the bald set you have, or see a dentist for that bad tooth? Today more Americans than ever are having to make grim choices such as these. If you are in that situation, keep reading. I’ve been there. And I intend to cover that subject.

But, let’s get back to over-spending. There are those that are under the impression that all spending is bad to a frugalista. The Frugal Goddess disagrees. Almost all aimless spending is over-spending. But the essence of true frugality is to avoid waste so you can live a good life as defined by you. If you have analyzed your situation and taken care of your basic responsibilities you will know what you need to invest, what you must save to provide a cushion, and what you may reasonably spend. If you have done your inner work and clarified your values and your goals you will know what to spend your money on. And finally, (having selected a goal to carry out) if you have done the work of comparing prices, considering all the ways to get the goal completed, and developing a strategy to get it done the result will not involve over-spending. Good money management is about flow, not about waste. In future posts I will be discussing the different sorts of spending in greater detail.

%d bloggers like this: