Whether it’s biting your nails, smoking, or binging on a TV show, everyone has a few bad habits. It’s likely that some bad habits are related to money as well.
There may be things you’re doing (or not doing) that’ll keep costing you until you stop. Be wary of the following eight and start saving.
Paying ATM Fees
ATM fees just cost a few dollars, but take out cash once or twice a month and the fees start to add up. Switch to a bank that refunds ATM fees and you’ll never need to pay to access your money.
Many credit unions refund all ATM fees, or sometimes just the first $10-$15 of fees each month, for members with a checking account. They still let you withdraw money for free from branch ATMs, and even if the credit union only has a few branches many are part of networks that give you access to free ATM across the country.
If you want all your fees refunded, consider a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor checking account. You’ll need to open a brokerage account first, but it doesn’t need to stay funded. All the money can be moved to the Schwab checking account, and 100 percent of your ATMs fees (internationally as well) will be refunded.
Not Knowing Where Your Money is Going
You don’t need to get so precise that you know exactly where every penny you spent went, but you should at least have a good idea of how much you spend each month and where the money goes.
Forgetting About Subscription Services
Your Netflix account probably gets regularly used. But, sometimes you just no longer need a service, or you’ve tied a card to an automatic payment and forgot about it. (These can be easier to catch if you’re tracking where your money goes.)
Take an afternoon to do an audit of your subscriptions. Cancel all the ones that you no longer need and check your debit or credit card statement for unusual charges.
Also, check your cell phone bill. Some nefarious companies trick people into signing up for service – sometimes all it takes is responding to a text – and then bill them every month through their mobile provider. The practice, known as cramming, can be hard to detect, but the Federal Communications Commission’s guide can help you identify mysterious charges.
Keeping Your Savings Rate Level
It can take a lot of willpower to get started saving for retirement. The paperwork involved in opening up an IRA or setting aside a portion of your paycheck to put in your company’s 401(k) isn’t actually that hard, but it’s a step many people struggle with at first. After taking the leap, you might not want to think about it again.
However, if you decided to put aside a particular dollar amount when you started it may be time to take a second look. If you’re making more now than you did before, your contribution should go up as well. Consider setting aside a percentage of your paycheck rather a dollar amount to automate this process.
Paying Overdraft Fees
You signed up for overdraft protection and tied a savings account to your checking account so you’re set, right? Not so fast. Overdraft protection keeps you from paying the median $35 overdraft charge, but you’ll still get charged $10-$12 in transfer fees with overdraft protection.
Instead, opt out of overdraft protection and coverage. Your debit card might be declined, but at least you won’t have to pay a fee!
Be careful when writing checks or if you have subscriptions or automatic bill payments from your checking account. Those purchases won’t be declined and you might get a non-sufficient funds fee.
Not Asking for a Better Price
Haggling doesn’t come naturally to many, but it’s worth trying because you might be surprised at how often you can get a discount.
Negotiating isn’t just for outdoor markets and face-to-face conversations with vendors. If you no longer have an introductory offer from your internet provider, pick up the phone and try to get them to lower your bill. If your credit card has an annual fee, call the issuer and see if there’s any way to get it refunded. And, if you’re at a store it never hurts to see if the employee can give you a discount.
See something that you just need? There certainly are things you can’t live without, but you also need to learn to control impulsive spending.
Some people make a practice of making themselves wait a week between seeing something they “need” and buying it. The cool-off period can be enough to let you realize how much something is worth to you. Or, if you see something at a store, give yourself one day to try to find it for cheaper online.
Forgetting About Coupons
When waiting in a checkout line at the store, or about to checkout online, take a second to look for a coupon. A quick search is often all it takes to save money.