The 4th of July has come and gone but there are still some folks in the neighborhood lighting off fireworks. I said to my husband, those people are literally burning their money. And then it made it think, in what other ways are people literally throwing money away? Surprising, there are quite a few scenarios that fit the bill. You might be doing some of these things repeatedly without realizing the consequences.
How many times have you had to withdraw cash and the ATM nearest you doesn’t belong to your bank? Because you need the cash, you use the ATM and get slapped with fees. You figure it’s only a few dollars so why not.
This is how the banks get you. If banks charged everyone $50 for an ATM withdrawal, people would be more conscientious and only withdraw money from their own banks. But since the fees range anywhere from $1.50 to $5, people pay the fee without a second thought. In 2016, banks make $6.4 billion in ATM and overdraft fees!
By paying the ATM fee, you’re telling the machine, “Thank you for allowing me access to my own money. I planned poorly and was not able to go to my own bank to withdraw money. To express my gratitude, please take a few more dollars from my account.”
Avoid ATM fees by planning ahead and always have some cash on hand. You don’t have to go crazy and start hoarding cash under your mattress. I try to keep $50 in my wallet at all times. When I’m running low, I make a trip to the bank. I put most of my spending on my credit card, so I only have to go to the bank once a month at most.
Make a decision suitable for your spending habits. If you mostly spend cash, it makes sense to withdraw more money at once. This allows you to avoid using an ATM belonging to another bank because you’re prepared.
Late fees are another way to throw away your hard-earned money as they are essentially a penalty. They are assessed against you when you don’t complete an action by a designated time.
Take credit cards. If your statement says you need to pay the bill by August 1 then you better make sure that happens. Otherwise, the credit card company will tack on an extra fee to your bill next month for not paying on time.
Do you have trouble remembering the due dates for all your bills? Set yourself a calendar reminder, write a note on the fridge, or tell your spouse to remind you. It doesn’t matter which technique you use as long as you do something. I know my credit card bill is due on the 21st of every month so I set a reminder to pay my bill by the 10th. I also automate payment on certain bills that stay the same from month to month so I can just set it and forget it.
If you have a bill, you better pay it on time. Whether it’s the mortgage, utilities, or a hospital bill, if there’s a due date need to pay on time. Not paying on time will amass late fees and can potentially ruin the credit you worked hard to build.
It’s not just bills that charge late fees. If you check out library materials and hold on to them past their due date, you will be charged a fee. Redbox is a great alternative to Netflix and On Demand but if you don’t return the DVD by 9 p.m. the next day you’ll be charged an additional daily rental charge. What started as a $1.50 movie rental can balloon up quickly.
I hate food waste, plain and simple. By throwing away food, you’re wasting money and also wasting the efforts of those who worked hard to make the food available to us. Think about the farmers who grow the food and the people who harvest and deliver that food to stores.
Modern life is pretty easy. We don’t have to hunt and gather like our ancestors did. Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy for some of us to be wasteful. If our food rots and we have to throw it away, just go to the store and buy more! But, you’re throwing money away because the food you throw out is food you already paid for.
I love it when an item I buy qualifies for a rebate. It’s like getting a discount though you have to do a little extra work. But, it’s money back in your pocket so why not.
You do have to pay attention to the terms and conditions though! I once bought a saute pan for $20 and it had a $5 rebate offer. The terms specified that I had to send in the rebate 30 days after the purchase. I enjoyed using the new pan so much that I didn’t think about the rebate until well after the deadline had passed. Ugh!!! I felt as if I literally threw away $5.
I wouldn’t buy something just because there’s a rebate but if you’re planning on buying something and it offers a rebate, make sure to follow the instructions so you get your money back!
Paying for Unused Subscriptions
Do you have a gym membership? If you have one, honestly ask yourself how many times you go a month. If you’re paying for a membership just to make yourself feel good, it’s time to cancel! A gym membership is great if you regularly go work out and take advantage of what you paid for. Otherwise, you’re just throwing money away.
Similarly, do you have a cable package that gives you access to over 100 channels but you only watch a handful of them? Cutting the cord is easier than ever before.
We’ve been cable free for a few years now and I couldn’t be happier. We subscribe to HBO Now and Netflix. An antenna gives us access to the networks like ABC and NBC. Want more channels? Direct TV and Sling TV offer competitive packages at lower prices than traditional cable.
Finally, if you have magazine subscriptions but aren’t reading them, you’re also wasting money. Even if you do read them, it worthwhile to cancel the subscription anyway because you can get so much free content online.
You work hard for your money so don’t just throw it away. Sure, you’re not sticking dollar bills down the trash bin but there are habits and behaviors that equate to the same thing. Seriously examine your spending. You might be wasting money without realizing it. The important thing is to catch what you’re doing and reverse course.