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Does money seem to evaporate for you every month, leaving you in a state of befuddlement, wondering where the heck it went?
Itís leaking out your bank account, but you can stop it if you can figure out where the leaks are! †Money always leaves a trail and with a little detective work, I'll show you hundreds - even thousands - of dollars youíre wasting each year on things you're not even using!
Grab your bank statements, a highlighter, down a shot of confidence and compare your statement with this list of common budget leaks. †(Donít chicken out on me...however painful it may be to face the truth, your budget will thank you when weíre done!)
Groceries that spoil: $341 - $569 wasted annually per person
Clean out your fridge of all the expired dressings, condiments, spoiled produce, outdated dairy, and moldy leftovers and add up how much that garbage bag of food costs. To stop wasting food:
Still worried about food spoiling? Survive on these foods that will outlast you, as listed on StillTasty.com, a site and app that can tell you the shelf life of your food. You could also stock up on emergency survival food that has a 25 year shelf life.
Health Club: $660 wasted annually per person
Showing up once or twice a week? People at the front desk don't know you by name? Divide your monthly payment by the number of times you use it to see how much it costs you each time you work out. †Chances are youíre not getting enough health benefit to make it worth the money.
There are so many other free ways to get your exercise in, whether itís using your own home gym equipment, taking a walk around the block or playing basketball with the kids in the driveway. Susan Hiscock from FitWatch.com has a great list of 10 Ways You CAN Exercise at Home Without Any Equipment if you need some inspiration.
If you decide the health club membership is not something youíre willing to give up, check with them to see if they have any incentives to help you save. †Our health club takes a percentage off our monthly bill if weíve gone a certain number of times each month. †Many insurance companies also offer financial incentives if you work out regularly at your health club.
Storage Unit: $480 - $2,700 per year
Self storage units are great as a temporary landing pad for your stuff while in transition of a move. We rented a storage unit to clear out a lot of our furniture, clothing, and household items to make our tiny little 2 1/2 bedroom bungalow show better and feel more spacious to potential renters since we couldnít close on our new home for several weeks. It paid off for us.
Hanging on to clutter long-term is an emotional decision not a financial one. While the monthly rate may ďseemĒ affordable at an average of $40-$225 per month, stop and consider the long term costs and determine if what you have is worth spending $480 - $2,700 a year to hang on to. †GoBankingRates.com brought up a great illistration of this when they mentioned ď...do you really want to keep that outdated dining set from 12 years ago? Thatís $21,600 youíve spent to save money on a $700 dining room set.Ē
Monthly Subscriptions: Netflix, Hulu, GameFly, Sirius, Magazines & Other Services with Automatic Billing: Amount Varies
Home Phone Line: $360 per year
We did our homework and found out that itís actually cheaper for us to keep our home phone because the bundled price for phone, cable and internet is cheaper than if we just had cable and internet. But we NEVER use it. I canít tell you when the last time I used it was. I have no clue how many message might be waiting in voice mail purgatory, I don't even remember how to check it so theyíll be there forever. Anyone who needs to get in touch with us has our cell phones.
If you must have a home phone, ooma, and other systems are very inexpensive.
Do the math...
Credit Card Annual Fees for Rewards You Donít Use: $18 to $150* per card per year
Extra Cell Phone Minutes/Data: Americans Spend $52.8 Billion/Year on Wireless Waste
According to SaveLoveGive.com, ďWireless Waste costs Americans an estimated $52.8 billion dollars per year.Ē Thatís a lot of billions. They offer a free service that reviews your cell phone usage and suggests the best plans for you. †I plugged mine into the plan and unfortunately with our family plan of 4 phones, I was only able to cut off a few bucks a month, but every little bit adds up.
If you only use your cell phone for emergencies, buy a pre-paid plan from someone like T-mobile. For $100 you can get 1000 minutes of talk time, which will last an entire year before they expire.
Lazy Movie Rental Late Fees: Amount Varies
FSA Savings You Donít Use: 20% forfeit $500+
Electricity/Gas: $150 per year
ďBy turning your thermostat back 10į to 15į for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill -- a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.Ē according to Energy.gov.
They also state in an article about energy vampires that ďAccording to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, between 5 to 10% of residential electricity use goes toward powering appliances in standby power mode.Ē
If I do the math on both of these statistics with our own familyís expenses, we could be saving about $150 per year. (Taking the average of both Gas and Electric (10%) $75.30 on gas, and (7.5%) $73.50 on electricity, for a total of †$148.80.)
Itís not a ton of money, but since itís savings that requires no effort, thereís no reason not to do it. Plus, it would cover the cost of that Netflix subscription. :)
Wahoo! †I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty excited about the money we've just saved!
What other areas can you think of that we're wasting money on things we don't use? Share them in the comments below. †If you liked this post, please remember to "like it" and share it with others.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I asked a community of Personal Finance people on G+ if they had any other suggestions to add of things we're wasting money on that we don't use.
David Ning from moneyning.com brought up two great points.
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