Every month, around the 3rd week, I sit down and pay my bills. I don't schedule my monthly bills because I like to feel the pain of paying things every month. It makes me think about the spend and was it worth the money?
This month as I was combing through my credit card bill (I am in the process of switching companies, I came across a hidden reoccurring charge from Amazon. Honestly, I had no idea what that was.
How did I miss it? Good grief. I called Amazon and got this very nice man to help me sort this out. He told me its a movie subscription. I explained we have never used it. He says he can see that. I ask if I can get a refund for the entire amount. He said he would need to talk to his supervisor and put me on a brief hold (it really was only a couple, 3 minutes).
While he couldn't refund the entire subscription, his supervisor did refund me 6 months… which is more than I would have gotten had I not asked at all. So it got me thinking… what other money is sneaking out of my bank account?
In researching my own finances and reading up on other peoples stories, these are the top 12 ways money can sneak away.
Clearly, this one is an easy one to let slide especially when you order from them regularly. Holy moly… who would have thought anything of a little $6.42? It pays to double check your orders and match things up.
Wow! I mean WOW! For the convenience of having access to your own money… these fees are a little out of hand when you don't use your financial institutions ATM. Once, and I mean only once, I got caught at the farmers market without cash (should have checked my wallet before leaving the house). The ATM charge was $2.95! What!?! But it was either that or stop at the grocery store on the way home… I paid it that one time. Oh and not to mention the line of people waiting to use the only ATM at the farmers market.
Do you get those kids that come to your house selling something to raise money for their school, team, class trip, etc…? I am such a softy when it comes to this. To make matters worse, I work from home most of the time, so there is no one here to smack me into reality. We don't need more magazines in this house… they pile up and if you are like me, read Flipboard for free.
I was here too… the kids were getting older and I thought it would be a great routine to have a family gym membership. But of course we would go after work when EVERYONE ELSE is there. It was crowded. Not to mention spending 5 minutes just to find parking. ugh! It didn't take long to not want to go and eventually cancel that one too.
I have gotten much better at this one. When I go to the grocery store, sometimes, I get “big eyes” and buy more than what we are going to eat in a week. Then stuff spoils and its money wasted. Its one of my pet peeves.
Now I make it a game and see how many days I can keep making meals before I must go to the grocery store. Its actually fun because I am challenged to find ways to feed the fam and still clear out all the food. Sure sometimes its a mixed meal but it makes for fun conversation at the dinner table. ha!
Since I work from home most of the time, I am pretty good about not spending needlessly on meals out. Sure we go through phases where we are tired (the kids cook too) or super busy and don't have the time to make a meal… then we use our coupons and buy dinner, lunch or whatever.
Bank Fees & Penalties
This is another sneaky one. It seems like small fees, until it happens every month. After all isn't that an income stream for banks? If its your first offense definitely call and see if they can wave the fee…. most banks will wave a fee once a year. 😉
Unless your kids names are Visa, AmEx, Discover or MasterCard, there is no reason to be giving them money every month. As a matter of fact, try this exercise for a couple of months… record the interest and penalties you are paying separate from the stuff you bought. That's right, make it two line items so you can see how much extra money you are giving them.
Another area where interest and penalties can sneak up on you mostly because they can be a little more forgiving than credit card companies.
I know this sounds like a weird one… but its really important when paying cash for things to replace that cash with the receipt so you know to record that spend. Its easy to spend that money and forget about it. Don't let that happen to you.
It is still shocking, unbelievable and a little sad how many people leave FREE money on the table. At the very least always take the company match. ALWAYS! It is the easiest and fastest way to double your investment. Never leave free money offered you on the table. That is almost … disrespectful. 🙂 Oh and don't forget to invest that money… its not enough to just grab the match… if you are not sure, invest in a Target Fund.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
I cant say enough great things about the Health Savings Account (HSA). Pre-tax dollars to invest with. When you spend the money, its not taxed AND any interest you make is not taxed either. Its like a loophole to not pay taxes. Who doesn't want to take advantage of that? Wish I did it sooner.
So there you have it… A little spring cleaning of finances. What ways have you lost money? Would love to know… I will definitely need to pay closer attention.