By Peter Anderson, Crosswalk.com
Life can get pretty busy and fill up with demands. Naturally, there are times when money just tends to leak away because we've always spent money somewhere without thinking about it, or because there are hidden costs that we didn't even realize were there.
Here are 21 leaks to be aware of, or to look for in your own house. Once you identify your own, you can do some leak-repair that makes life better for you.
1. Buying coffee on your way to work:
I'm extremely guilty of this one. I tend to just spend money on coffee on my way to work several times a week. I've recently started cutting back on this and instead buying great micro-roasted coffee to make at home instead, and it saves a ton of money.
2. Hobby spending:
Do you collect comic books, leather-bound volumes of great literary works or play a ton of video games? Whatever your hobby, you can often spend a ton of money every month on buying the latest and best associated with your hobby. You don't need to cut it out completely, but cutting back on how much you can spend can save, and you'll have more money for other things.
3. Bank fees:
Avoiding overdraft fees, other network ATM fees and other assorted bank fees shouldn't be too hard, but it's a problem for a lot of people. To save make sure you're reconciling your accounts regularly, and make sure that you always know how much money you have by using a personal finance tool like Mint.com.
4. Buying things for others:
If you're naturally a giver like my wife, you may have a tendency to overspend on gifts for other people. It feels good to give gifts to people, but we can easily over-do it. Instead try your hand at giving more creative and frugal gifts, or giving the gift of time or an experience with your friend or family member.
5. Paying full price:
There's no excuse for paying full price for things when there are sites like RetailMeNot.com, Ebates and Honey to give you coupons, discounts, rebates and more. Just last night my family and I got one of our pizzas for free when we used a coupon we found online. Make sure to do your research and do a quick search and find discounts on the things you buy.
6. Unused credit card rewards:
A lot of people have credit card rewards saved up that never get used. Things like points for trips, cash back savings and points to get gift cards and more. Make sure that if you're going to use one of these cards, that you actually use the rewards.
7. Unused gift cards:
People will get gift cards for birthdays and holidays, but then they sit in a drawer, in a purse or in a wallet without being used. Don't forget to use those gift cards, or at least sell it online and get some money out of it! Otherwise, you're spending money you don't need to!
8. Missed tax deductions:
When it comes to tax time a lot of people miss out on savings because they didn't take deductions that they were entitled to. For example, they don't take deductions for charity donations. Instead, make sure to keep track of your deductions using a tool like It's Deductible, and save on your taxes!
9. Eating out too much:
At our house our dining out budget is one of our biggest problem areas. Just by cutting the number times we eat out in half can save us hundreds! When you do eat out, don't forget to use coupons and discounts!
10. Getting drinks:
When you eat out or go out with friends your bar tab can quickly get out of hand. Instead of drinking all night, stay in control, and only get one or two drinks. Or just get water!
11. Not taking advantage of available discounts:
Sometimes people forget to take advantage of discounts that are available for products and services through their employer or other avenues. For example, many employer health plans have discounts available on gym memberships if you go to the gym a certain number of times every month. Take advantage!
12. Paying a bill despite being overcharged:
Make sure to keep track of your monthly bills and know what you're paying for. Often unknown charges can sneak into your statement if you're not paying attention. I recently discovered an erroneous increase of $5/month on my satellite TV bill. After complaining to their support repeatedly, they reversed the charges.
13. Having too much coverage and high premiums:
Some people have too much coverage when it comes to insurance of one type or another when they could easily get by with a lesser plan with higher deductibles. Cut your premiums by getting less coverage, and accepting higher deductibles.
14. Buying brand names:
Quite often people will buy brand names just because they have always done that. In reality, the generic brand is often just as good or even better than the brand name item.
15. Buy less of things that spoil:
When buying groceries think about what types of things tend to go bad at your house, or that end up spoiling before you eat them. Buy less of that item, or cut it out all together.
16. Candy from the vending machine:
There are times during the workday that you get hungry and just HAVE to go and buy something from the vending machine. If you're doing this every day, however, it can add up – and take a toll on your health. Instead, buy some of your own tasty and healthy snacks to stock up on at work.
17. Impulse buys:
If you're one of those people who likes to buy things on impulse, rein yourself in and make a rule that you can only buy something after a waiting period of at least 24 hours, if not longer like 30 days.
18. Allowing too much money to sit idle in your checking:
19. Buying DVDs, video games or books:
One thing I used to do quite a bit was to buy DVDs of movies that I never ended up watching, or buying a ton of books that I never read more than once. Instead of buying, rent or stream the movies you want to watch, rent video games and get books or ebooks from your local library!
20. Not figuring out why a bill has gone up:
Sometimes a bill may increase, but you just accept it. Instead, figure out why your utility bill has gone up. Is there a problem with a your water heater? Filter needs replacing? Or did you leave a window open in the unused room upstairs? Ask why.
21. Cancel un-needed memberships or subscriptions:
If you're subscribed to a magazine but don't read it very often, cancel it. If you've got a membership to a wholesale club but haven't been in two years, cut up the card. Haven't watched a netflix movie in weeks? Put your membership on hold.
This list is just the beginning. Saving money can really become a way of life if you want it to be. You just have to be creative, have a reason and a goal for why you're trying to save, and think consciously about the decisions that you're making.
The changes mentioned on this page may seem small when you look at them. The truth is, however, that the small changes listed here can be the basis of your financial security.
Peter Anderson is a Christian, husband to his beautiful wife Maria, and father to 2 children. He loves reading and writing about personal finance, and also enjoys finding ways to make money on the side. You can find out more about him on the about page. Don't forget to say hi on Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook!
This excerpted article originally appeared on BibleMoneyMatters.com. Used with permission.
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