Whether we grab that magazine off the shelf while waiting in the grocery store check-out line or pay for unused cable channels, it’s surprising how much money we can waste without really thinking about it.
In fact, you could be wasting money and not even know it.
Here are seven ways you might be throwing money away--and how to avoid them.
You are wasting money if you …
Carry a balance on your credit cards.
When it comes to credit cards, your best bet is to pay off your balances each month, and not just because it’s nice to start off with a clean slate. If you carry the average credit card balance of $1,086 per card (according to Credit Karma data), and your APR is 15%, then you’re spending approximately $163 on interest each year.
If you carry the average credit card balance of $1,086 per card (according to Credit Karma data), and your APR is 15%, then you’re spending approximately $163 on interest each year.
Use non-network ATMs.
The average ATM fee is around $2.40 for making an ATM withdrawal from a machine that is not your bank’s. Avoid this conundrum by using a grocery store or drugstore as your ATM. By getting cash back on small purchases you’ll avoid those pesky fees and pick up that much-needed toothpaste.
Do you know if you’re getting the best deal on your cell phone plan? If you can’t answer “yes” with confidence, it might be time to contact your provider and see if there are any discounts available. The same goes for lots of things, like interest rates, cable and internet packages and medical bills, according to Bargaineering.
Depending on your financial institution, sometimes they’re unavoidable. But have you checked into the reasons why you’re being charged certain fees? Although some banks charge anywhere from $3 to $10 in monthly maintenance fees on banking accounts, they may offer to waive the fee under certain conditions like adding a direct deposit to the account or maintaining a minimum balance. If you’re getting hit with repeated $25 late fees on your credit card statement, there’s no excuse for throwing that money away. Set up an automatic payment, text alert, or email reminder so you can keep more money in your wallet.
Use a checking account to save.
Interest rates on savings accounts aren’t what they used to be these days, but savings accounts typically have higher APRs than checking accounts. A checking account is useful for everyday and revolving purchases, but using an online savings account like Discover’s (at 1.15% APR) or Ally’s (1.04% APR) helps your money earn more. (Find the savings accounts that will earn you the most. Read this.)
Ignore your company’s match on a 401(k).
Whether your company offers to match three, five or six percent of your retirement contributions, you should at least be matching that percentage. A company match on a 401(k) is essentially free money towards your retirement. It may not seem like much now, but when you retire, you’ll be happy for the extra boost.
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Pay for your credit report.
You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year from the three major reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) through AnnualCreditReport.com. Use your free copies to your advantage by checking one every four months so you can monitor your report regularly. If you need to dispute something on your credit report, know your credit rights before paying a credit repair company. (Learn the top five most surprising credit facts.)
Make sure you’re not wasting your money on any of these actions. In the short term, it may not seem like much to pay 15% on a small carried-over credit card balance. But in the long run, those wasted dollars can really rack up.