Have you ever checked your bank balance expecting to see one number, but the number you actually see is much lower than you were expecting?
Suddenly, you think, where did all my money go?
Good question, where did it go? It's almost like it evaporated into thin air.
We know the feeling – you have money one minute and the next it seems like it's just disappeared. Obviously, it didn't just get up and walk away, but there are so many places that you can spend money in the world, it's possible to not even realize that you're doing it.
Hopefully though, if you're conscious of where your money is potentially going, it'll be easier to avoid these traps and not spend your money needlessly. Below are various money traps that when avoided, will make it easier to save money.
You let food spoil in your fridge
We know it can be difficult to figure out how much food you actually eat in a week or a month, so every so often something falls through the cracks and spoils in your fridge. Regardless of whether it was a mistake, spoiled food is still money down the toilet. Lifehacker has some great common sense tips for avoiding food spoilage, including only buying the food you will actually eat, buying smaller packages that fit the amount of people in your household, share what you can't eat, use all parts of your food and use a blender to use up your food and disguise it in other dishes.
You overuse data on your data plan
You’re probably spending more on your cell phone data plan than you really should. Be vigilant about closing windows running in the background of your phone without your knowledge and download free apps like Onavo, which monitors your data usage and tells you which programs hog the most data and where most of your data goes. It also reduces your data usage by compressing it and only using the most essential parts of your program. Download it and see if you save money just by having it run as you go about your business on your phone.
You Don't Haggle or Negotiate
We recently did an article featuring one of America's preeminent negotiators – Herb Cohen. Go read it and you'll find loads of haggling advice. While haggling is second nature in other countries, we're kind of embarrassed to do it in North America and many of us are too intimidated to take things at anything less than face value. Well, we’re not negotiating to our detriment. According to Fast Company, and a study cited by the two authors of Women Don't Ask, a book we referenced in our previous article, women lose out on more than $500,000 over the course of their career if they don’t push for more money during their first job. This is a hell of a lot of money, so read our article on haggling and pick up some tips.
You Don't Get Built-in Discounts
Some of us (but hopefully nobody reading this website) put those flyers, circulars and coupons we receive in our mailbox straight into the recycling and in the process don't take advantage of the deals right in front of us. Of course, presenting flyer coupons to a store clerk takes more work than we should ever have to do in the internet age – what with the hassle of cutting of the coupons, the driving to the store and the redeeming them at check out. Thank god there's an easier way. Instead of wishlists, Lifehacker recommends using price alerts from the browser utility Camelizer to get automatic alerts when the prices on your favourite products drop below a certain threshold. InvisibleHand is even better, it will find you a lower price on the product you're looking at so you can compare. There are even more ways to automate your discounts – look for them in a future Bargainmoose article.
You Don't Try Lowering Regular Bills
We all know phone and cable bills can be through the roof, but most of us just seem to accept that we're paying hundreds of dollars and don't do anything about it. Yet, cable and phone companies have regular promotions and discounts, all you really need to do is ask. Usually though, it's all in how you ask. Stay calm and polite, as you catch more bees with honey and always emphasize that you'll be with this company for the long haul (brand loyalty) and you just want to save money and work something out. Of course, some things are non-negotiable, but be specific about your needs and you never know what may happen. Plus, if you continue to get the run-around over the phone, it never hurts to visit the offices or a company retail location in person.
How do you waste money? Tell us in the comments.
Photo credit: B Rosen