Some people are bad with money and they waste it constantly on stupid crap that they can’t afford and they are sad all the time and have no friends… That’s not you.
You’re smart, but even smart people sometimes do stupid things with their money. Smart people are often forgetful, or lazy, or busy, or have enough money that they don’t worry about wasting it. Bad idea! Wasting money is always uncool. Here are a 10 stupid ways that even smart people waste money… and a few ideas for how to stop the leak.
We know that you already know all of this stuff, smarty-pants, so consider this list a reminder…
1) Forgetting To Pay Bills: Smart people are often forgetful. “Did I pay the credit card bill? I don’t know, I was busy curing cancer.”
Late fees suck! Here are some ways to avoid them:
- Pay all your bills at once on a specific day each month.
- Set up auto bill pay with your bank (not with your credit card company).
- Ask someone for help getting organized.
- Set up a Google alert.
- Use fewer credit cards so there are fewer bills to pay.
- Don’t use credit cards at all.
2) Bank Fees: Overdrafting fees and excessive ATM and other bank fees are easy to accrue and can be hard to avoid, even for smart people.
Here’s how to get organized:
- Go to the ATM once a week.
- If you find yourself always using another bank’s ATM, switch to that bank.
- Build up a small cushion in your checking account so you don’t have to worry so much.
- Pay attention to how long it takes your bank to process deposits.
- Keep an eye on your balance.
- Switch to a bank that offers ATM fee refunds or that has a large free ATM network.
- Switch to free checking.
- Don’t buy things that aren’t in your budget.
- Add things like coffee, lunches and snacks into your budget. They’re easy to forget.
3) Tickets: Some of the smartest people we know can’t seem to avoid traffic and parking tickets. Speeding and parking illegally is a huge waste of money. Here are some tips that will help you avoid giving your hard-earned cash to the man:
- Dispute parking tickets in court. Bring photos and other evidence.
- Don’t park illegally! Easier said than done, we know.
- Speeding doesn’t save much time, but it will cost you money in tickets, insurance and gas. Stay with the flow of traffic; don’t be the fastest guy on the road.
- Never, ever, ever argue with a police officer or make up stupid excuses. Look remorseful, but don’t admit that you did anything wrong.
- If you do get a ticket, and you have the opportunity to attend “traffic school” so that it won’t be reported to your insurance company, do it.
- Don’t talk on your cellphone while driving. Don’t send txt messages while driving. Just drive.
- Drive less! Take public transportation if you can. You don’t have to worry about where to park a bus.
- Avoid the city of Chicago, especially during the “street sweeping scam” season.
- Pay for parking instead of getting a ticket. If a parking ticket is $75 and parking was $20, who is the sucker now?
- Don’t forget to feed the meter! Set an alarm on your phone if you’re forgetful.
4) Memberships: How many memberships do you have that you don’t use? Gym memberships, museum memberships, cultural center memberships, Netflix memberships… Enough with the memberships!
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your memberships:
- “Does it save me money?”
- “Does it support a charity or non-profit? Is it tax deductible? Do I actually deduct it?”
- “Do I use it?”
If you don’t use that gym membership—cancel it. Better to be fat and rich than fat and poor.
5) Subscriptions: Do you have a large pile of magazines that you’re “going” to read? Cancel them. You’ll never notice they’re gone.
6) Letting food spoil in the fridge: Yes, we know you meant to make it for dinner, but then Betty called and you went to see that new movie and… and…
- Plan your meals.
- Buy things you can freeze.
- Buy dry goods in bulk and produce less often.
- If a bunch of food is about to go bad, invite all your friends over and cook for them rather than waste it.
7) Wasting Energy: It’s just so hard to turn the lights off…
- Use powerstrips to turn off lots of things at once.
- Don’t leave your computer on constantly for no reason.
- Turn out the lights.
- If you’re going to sleep with the TV on, don’t sleep with the TV, the XBox 360, the stereo, the Wii, the CD player, the lights…
- Insulate your home.
- Plant trees on the sunny side of the house.
- Don’t leave the air on when no one is home.
- Turn the heat down during the day.
- You don’t need to leave the lights on for the cat. Cats can see in the dark.
8) Letting your money sit in a checking account: You could be earning interest in an online savings account. Why just let all your money sit in your checking account? Stop that!
9) Buying DVDs you will never, ever watch, or books you’ll never read, or clothes you will never wear…: When buying something ask yourself: “Will I watch this more than once?” or “Will I actually read this?” or “Do I really still like Rush?” If you answer yes, buy it. If not, don’t.
10) Paying too much for cable: Ask yourself if you watch all the premium channels you pay for. If not get rid of them. Also, ask yourself when was the last time you called up your cable company and threatened to cancel? You should do this every year. It keeps them on their toes.
We have a lot of smart readers, but no one is perfect. Tell us how you stopped your money leaks!