Stop Wasting Money by Nickel-and-Diming Your Budget to Death

Have you ever thought to yourself “I’ve been good about my spending lately” only to take a look at your account balance and wonder where all your money has disappeared to?

You can’t recall any major purchases this month so you scan your account statement for a big expense you may have forgotten about, a double charge from a restaurant, or signs of debit card fraud. But, no, everything looks to be in order. The culprit? Many, many small purchases that ended up costing a lot more money than you expected. Here are the biggest culprits of wasted money due to nickel-and-diming and how to avoid them.

ATM Fees

These are one of the most annoying culprits and biggest money-wasters. If you’re not careful, you can easily accrue $30 or more each month in ATM fees, and nothing is more frustrating than seeing a bunch of $2.50 or $3.00 charges scattered all over your bank statement. Avoid wasting money on ATM fees by making cash withdrawals at your bank’s ATMs which won’t charge you extra. If you do get stuck having to take out money at an ATM with fees, take out more than you need so you don’t get stuck a few days later paying another fee when you need cash again.

Corner Store Purchases

The markup on these types of products when compared to buying bulk is enormous. You are paying for the convenience, not the product. Corner stores are also notorious for having minimum spend requirements to use credit or debit cards, so if you aren’t carrying cash, you may get roped into spending $10 instead of $6. Instead of stopping every morning to buy a beverage and a snack bar, buy these products in bulk and keep them at home. A bottle of water that costs you $2 at the corner store could cost you less than 20¢ if bought in a case! By stopping wasting money on these types of purchases, you’ll have a lot more room in your budget for more essential expenses.

Take Out Lunches

Again, you are paying for convenience here! By not packing a lunch to bring to work, you’ll find yourself making several small purchases throughout the day: coffee and a breakfast sandwich in the morning, takeout for lunch, perhaps hit up the office vending machine in the afternoon. These purchases will seem minor at the time, but doing this every day will add up to a lot of wasted money quickly. Instead, choose to bring your lunch and a few snacks at least some, if not all, of the time. If you just aren’t a fan of bringing your lunch, at least consider bringing your snacks and beverages to cut your daily spend in half and leave more room in your budget.

On Demand Movies

If you watch a lot of movies and TV shows, avoid wasting anywhere from $3 to $20 on each on demand movie rental or purchase. Instead, choose a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu which will give you unlimited access to a library of movies and shows for a flat monthly fee. In addition to costing less, it also makes sticking to your budget easier, since it’s a fixed, predictable amount every month.

Bank Charges

There are many banking mistakes, which, if you’re not careful, can end up costing you a lot of money. Overdraft charges or transfer fees are nothing but wasted money! Opt to skip overdraft protection (this is just a way for banks to entice you to spend more than you have and then charge you for the privilege) and read the fine print of your account details to make sure you are aware of how many transactions or transfers you are allowed to make fee-free. Be sure to also include any unavoidable bank fees, like annual credit card charges, in your budget so you know you can afford them.

The lesson here? Never underestimate the power of small change! The same can be said for saving. By reducing the amount of small wasteful purchases you make on a daily basis, you can use this extra money to make small increases in your savings and retirement contributions. A little extra money now can turn into a lot later when given time to accrue interest. What ways have you nickel-and-dimed yourself and what changes did you make to prevent it? Share your comments below!

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