If you’re trying to save some cash, the first thing you’ll need to do is take a look at your current spending habits. You might be surprised at how much money you’re throwing away without even noticing.
Personal finance expert Michelle Singletary said the impulse to overspend can get the best of us at times, so try not to feel too bad about it. However, once you’ve seen the error of your ways, it’s time to clean up your act. “… All of us consume more than we need. We shop so much we don’t even stop to think about what we’re buying. How many times have you gone to Walmart or Target with the intention of buying just a few things, but you ended up tossing more than a few things in your shopping cart? You get to the register, and a trip that should have cost you $20 ends up costing you $200. If we all waited longer before making many of our purchase, we’d have more money,” said Singletary in The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom.
Here are six ways you’re letting money slip through your fingers without even realizing it.
1. Not returning items
It can be a hassle to return a defective or unwanted item, but it’s worth it in the long-run. Don’t throw away cash unnecessarily by letting unwanted purchases sit in your closet. Set aside time to pack up your items and send them back so you can get your refund.
2. Only buying name brands
Give up your name-brand obsession and opt for a generic from time to time. A generic brand can be just as good as its name-brand counterpart, especially when it comes to groceries. A Consumer Reports grocery store survey found some store brands give more popular brands a run for their money when it comes to taste and price. You can save up to 25% when you switch to a store’s brand.
3. Not taking advantage of rebates
Did a rebate come with one of your purchases? Don’t be lazy. Some manufacturers actually want to give you money for buying their products. Make an effort to fill out the appropriate forms so you can get cash back.
4. Ignoring your retirement match
If your employer offers a match, take advantage of it. Why give up free money? Pad your retirement account by contributing at least the minimum required to get the match.
5. Not using your gym membership
Have your New Year’s resolutions fallen to the wayside? If monthly fees are being deducted from your bank account but you haven’t lifted a weight since January, it’s time to do something. Go over your contract and see whether you can cancel early.
6. Impulse shopping
Unplanned purchases will chip away at your hard-earned cash before you know it. Resolve to resist making a purchase unless you budgeted for it beforehand. Always ask yourself whether you really need something before pulling out your wallet.
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