As we wind down the month of April and the topic of our finances, let's finish up with what I think are the biggest wastes of our hard earned cash. From number eleven to number one, here are the bottom five.
11. Paying more for electricity because you're not being diligent to turn lights and appliances off. We struggle with this in our house. Some of it's having little ones in the house who have no idea about what things cost, but Dave and I also get lazy leaving lights on in rooms we'll be "going right back in to." Of course, the next room we enter, we turn a light on and may or may not turn it off.
10. Washing clothes in hot and warm water. This one may surprise you, but think about it, hot and warm water was once believed to be the best way to get our clothes clean. Technology has come such a long way with energy efficient washers and dryers, our cleaning products are better than ever, and frankly, we're not really all that dirty to begin with. Use cold water unless you absolutely need warm or hot, and then do a smaller load. Ultimately, when you can, make the investment in a new washer and dryer and save money on your water bill, too!
9. Calling information to get a local phone number. This is something I've had to really be careful not to do. I get lazy and just want someone to give me what I need. I once had almost $20 in charges on one phone bill just from using the convenient 4-1-1 on my home phone. I then learned that on my cell phone, information is no longer part of my plan, I was informed by way of one of those little pamphlets that has print about 2 pt, and somewhere in all that teeny-tiny print it said information calls will now cost $3.75 each! Yes, each! Just one bill with those charges due and payable, and I've become a phone book toting mama! You can also use the Internet to get a number if you don't want to blow the dust off your old fashioned paper phone book.
8. Credit card late fees. This is a no brainer. $29-$35 added to your balance just for not getting a bill paid on time. In my opinion, there's no excuse, just make it happen. Open the bill when it comes, write the check or go online and pay what you have to pay to make it go away for another 30 days. Better yet, figure out how to pay it off so you can either pay it in full, on time, every month, or not use credit at all.
7. Trial memberships for credit protection and other silly products and services. These people make millions of your dollars every year for stuff you never get your money back on. Credit protection is one of those things some credit card companies add to your bill every month as part of your agreement to have their card. If they give you the option "free for 30 days and just cancel when your get your bill," even if you say no, you need to look closely, because I've had to fight tooth and nail to not only get the charges to stop, but to get my money back. Just say no and be sure to review your bills every month. Whatever their giving you to give it a try just ain't worth it!
6. Wasting money by "saving" when you buy something on sale. The only time this makes sense is when you were going out to make a specific purchase and that item is on sale. If you're out and see something you didn't think you needed until you saw it was on sale, you don't really need it. Don't fall prey, you're living without it just fine and spending $40 to save $12 is not really saving.
I'll do what I think are the top five money wasters on Wednesday. If you have one, post it in the comments, let's help each other save and grow our money so we'll have it when we need or simply want it.