Sometimes, it’s the little things we do that affect us in a big way. While you may have a solid long-term savings plan, it’s probably the everyday, routine money habits that are bleeding you dry. We identify the 5 worst wastes and help clean it up…
1. Throwing Away Food
Literally 40 percent of all food in the U.S. goes uneaten, and it’s money down the drain. How are we doing it? Tons of ways, but the biggest one is freaking out over “expiration dates” and tossing food before it’s bad. The “sell by” date is not the spoilage date–it’s really just for retailers, to make sure they move product quickly enough so that it has a long shelf life once you get it home. The “best by” date also just means when the item has reached its peak–not when it actually goes bad. Example: remember Extras’ article on how long you can eat eggs after their “sell by” date? Eggs and other perishables are safe a lot longer than you might think.
2. Forgetting About Gift Cards and Memberships
How many of those Old Navy gift certificates do you have laying around the house? Even if you don’t want to use them, that’s money burning a hole in your pocket. Check out sites like Gift Card Swapping, Cardpool, or MonsterGiftCard, where you can exchange them with others or sell them back for money. Same with your memberships and subscriptions. Are you really using that gym membership? Do you really need LinkedIn premium? Do an inventory of these items, check out your automatic payments, and tighten up your belt. Photo: goaskalice1453 @ tumblr
3. Paying for Life Insurance
Unless someone depends on you for financial support, you probably don’t need life insurance, says Kiplinger. Married couples with double incomes and no children, and obviously singles, fall in this category. So while your untimely demise would no doubt be sad for those around you (sniff), paying into a life insurance policy for people who don’t need a payout probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Bonus: You get to avoid life insurance salesmen like Ned.
4. Buying Things on Sale That You Never Really Wanted
Do your eyes glaze over as soon as someone waves a “sale” sign in front of your face? Sure, 50 percent off may sound like a deal, but if you didn’t want it that badly, it could have been 100 percent off. U.S. shoppers return almost 9% of what they buy already–is there even more that you’re not even bothering to take back? Keep your emotions in check while shopping. Photo: Getty Images
5. Paying for Cable TV
Hear me out. It may sound blasphemous, but many people are opting to avoid that $75 to $100 hit to their wallet every month by switching from cable to a combo of internet services to watch their favorite shows. For instance, a $7.99 membership to Netflix obviously gives you access to (albeit older) movies, while services like HuluPlus (another $7.99/month) allow you to watch some network shows. Use your Amazon Prime membership to rent new releases, and bam–you might be able to replace all the shows you actually watch, without cable, at a third of the price. The catch? Sports will be hard to come by, but if you can live with that, you could save some serious coin. Photo: Imgur
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