Money Saving Tips

6 Simple Ways to Avoid Daily Money Traps

6 Simple Ways to Avoid Daily Money Traps
Written by Irina Vasilescu

When we’re trying so hard to get through till the next paycheck, it can sometimes feel like we’re caught in a jungle and surrounded by traps – money traps. That feeling is not far off. Despite our best efforts, many of us miss the less obvious ways in which our money leaks out of our hands.

1. Avoid unplanned shopping trips

Unnecessary trips to the store are one of the biggest money wasting traps of all times. Face it; we almost never come back with just that one bottle of milk or loaf of bread. Impulse buying is bad enough. A dollar or two here and there on that extra spoil or suddenly-must-have bar of chocolate or food item you suddenly crave for supper, add up in unnecessary money wastage.

Then add the extra fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle for popping to the store more often than necessary. There’s also the excellent food you fully intended to cook for dinner that might end up going to waste because you simply had to give in to that impulse craving.

2. Wasting money on money

We work hard for our money and try our hardest to make it go as far as possible. Many of us don’t realize how much it costs us to have it and to spend it. How many of us really study our bank statements or check up on the cost of transactions we make?

Often convenience is to blame. We draw money from the nearest ATM even if our bank does not own it; pick a suggested amount from the screen rather than fussing with the “other amount” option – and we wonder why our balance drops so quickly.

Often there are extra charges if the withdrawal amount tops a particular figure (usually just below the amount the ATM tempts you to select), and if it’s not your bank’s machine, it will also cost more. Banks are also a better place for cashing checks than currency exchanges, because of service charges.

Other pitfalls are many annual card fees, service and insurance costs if you keep more than one credit card; account management fees of many bank accounts; and differing transaction fees between banks.

3. Pay on time

Show the same interest in paying your bills on time as whoever is billing you for money will show in your being late. Your interest can save you money, while their interest will cost you dearly over a period.

There is nothing worse than wasting money paying interest because you are a day or two late. Before you know it, you will be paying interest on that interest again and again until the full debt is cleared.

Credit cards are dangerous traps, and drawing cash on a credit card is the worst of all. You will continue paying interest on that money like you do with any purchase till every cent outstanding on the card has been settled.

4. What’s in a name? Brand snobbery can cost you

Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose when going for The Brand. When buying big items such as household appliances and high-tech equipment, a reputable brand name could be worth the extra money. Then you need something that is likely to last, has a genuine warranty, excellent after-sales service and is easy to repair with parts that are readily available.

These are all factors which are part of the value for the money paid. Saving a few dollars on an item that might outlive its warranty by one day, and be off the market long before then, can turn out to have been a false economy.

Short-term shopping

When it comes to perishable goods, household cleaners, and fad items, the long-term doesn’t matter. Often a large part of the high price is in the name or packaging. If it’s a fashion item, it needs to provide the right effect and last only as long as the fashion does. Spend more on classics, less on fads.

When it comes to everyday purchases, check out labels for the ingredients you want in the right percentages, rather than assuming big brands will be best. Some house brands are produced by the same manufacturers who produce the big names.

5. Signing up for subscriptions

Subscriptions services seem great when you sign up for them. It’s easy to convince ourselves long enough to sign our names or enter our card details, which by signing up we will change our lives.
We will get fit because we’ve signed membership at the gym or will have chilled evenings watching a variety of TV shows once we have cable, and so on. Or we sign up for massive internet or mobile contracts we don’t really need; jump at the chance to get deliveries of different wines each month – all sorts of subscriptions are available.

When you’ve lost the battle for the remote control and stay staring at one or two channels, why pay for a whole array on cable? If staying in bed late seems more attractive than going to the gym, maybe rethink the gym subscription. Paying for services you don’t need or those that have unnecessary “extras” built in at “no extra charge” (for a higher price) just because they sound good, is falling into a big money trap.

There are times when signing up does save you money. If you watch lots of movies, streaming services are a good move, rather than hiring DVDs, or buying ones you only want to watch once. If you can’t live without a book in front of you, sign up at the library.

6. Wasting money by “saving” it

Using coupons and vouchers is an easy way to save money on something you need and an even easier way to spend money on something you don’t need. So are sales, marked-downs, and exclusive discounts.

Most of us love to feel we’ve struck a good bargain by getting 10, 20 or 30 percent off the price of an item. But we have still spent 70, 80 or 90 percent. If we needed it, that’s great. If not, we have fallen into the trap once again and got a useless item lying around to remind us of our folly every day.

If you can eat, consume, apply or use it straight away, then coupons, vouchers, and discounts are a great way to go to treat yourself to dinner out, buy everyday goods for the home, or add some special touches to everyday fare without breaking the budget!

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6 Simple Ways to Avoid Daily Money Traps

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.

10 Comments

  • It really annoys me when I accidentally pay something late, as this means that there is then interest added onto the payment, and there is just no excuse for doing that at all. Usually, I will pay everything as early as possible, as interest is just lost money – you don’t get anything for it, and this means that you have wasted time working when you should have been able to use that money for something good.

  • I like the idea of not making unplanned trips to buy something. My wife and I are both teachers (which means an already low income), and we only get paid once a month. We have to budget for everything. Taking a random trip to the store definitely does cost way more than the cost of the purchase, especially if you live a ways away from a store. To accommodate our wants, we keep a running shopping list. Once we have enough items on the list to warrant a trip, then we make the trip. The amount of the purchases needs to be more than the amount of the gas used to make the trip worthwhile for us.

  • Wasting money on money is such a big one for me. Living in NYC, I often needed cash and didn’t have a bank closeby. If I was lucky, I would find a $1 fee at a place like Mcdonalds, but most ATM’s had huge fees as high as $4. Those charges add up quickly. My advice is that when you are grocery shopping, just get cashback even if you don’t need it then and there. Cash will always spend.

  • I’m definitely guilty when it comes to shopping trips, and it’s incredible how much money we are actually wasting on those trips and most of them, when it comes to me, I buy things that I don’t necessarily need, I really need to change that, I’m actually considering about making a little list every month I guess, about things that I really need, and taking it with me when I go to shopping, it may be a good way to focus on the things that I actually need and not just buy for buying.

  • “Brand snobbery can cost you” was probably one of the best things I seen in a while. Not just because of how it is worded but because it is so true. When I go grocery shopping 90% of the time I only buy a name brand item as long as I like it if it is on sale cheaper then the no name item. Beyond that I don’t bother much. I do prefer name brand cereals though because some of the store brands legit don’t taste good. Subscriptions is a big one too, I never have one unless I am USING it. Otherwise it is a waste of money.

  • I know so many people that use couponing as a “rush” and end up buying things they don’t need. Granted, it’s great that you got 32 jars of grape jelly for 10 dollars, but if you don’t eat grape jelly, you essentially just wasted $10. Furthermore, even if you DO eat grape jelly, can you possibly use 32 jars before they expire? Also, how much time did you have to spend looking for and printing those coupons? Sometimes, it is just not worth it to get that rush from feeling you saved money. Great point. Fabulous article.

  • All of my bills/credit card payments and other subscriptions go out via direct debit, so I know that they are paid on time every month.

  • I agree with you on the coupons. My sister was one of those extreme couponers, she was very dedicated and only bought things that they needed, and she spent 10-15 hours a week planning out her trips. I don’t about you, but I don’t have that kind of time to spend on saving money. I just skip the coupons all together and stick to good sales on stuff that’s on my shopping list.
    Thank you for sharing your tips, they are good ways to avoid spending extra.

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