What would it feel like to check your bank balance and find a pile of money you didn’t know you had? Stop wasting money on goods and services that don’t matter in the long run. By plugging the money leaks in your life, it’s possible you could see the financial equivalent of working a second job in your wallet.
BUYING FROM A TV OR INTERNET AD. Face it: Infomercial products are overpriced and hardly ever turn out to be as wonderful as presented. And those risk-free trial periods? Don’t believe them. You’ll likely have to pay the return shipping costs plus a restocking fee, if you ever get around to it.
Plug the money leak: Whenever tempted by an infomercial product, take a second to look up the item on eBay. You’ll be shocked to find dozens at a fraction of the price because that’s where they unload all the “As Seen on TV” products that get returned. Ask yourself, why so many returns? By then, the infomercial should be over, and you can get on with your day.
IMPULSIVE CRAFTING. Remember the beading supplies and tools that are now sitting in your basement but you bought because you were sure you’d love the activity? Or how about the entire scrapbooking outfit that seemed so perfect when you attended a home party? Did the albums even make it out of the bag? It’s way too easy for those of us who share the impulsive gene to make snap decisions.
Plug the money leak: Instead of jumping in with both feet, sign up for a class to check out a new hobby. A few sessions will tell you how committed you are to the craft. And if you decide it’s a go, visit an auction website like eBay, Amazon and Overstock. You’ll be amazed by what you can find for sale by others who got a bit too anxious and bought the whole caboodle.
INSISTING ON BRAND LOYALTY. Sure, we all have our brand favorites, but opting to pay double for things that don’t really matter adds up to one big waste of money.
Plug the money leak: Opt for the store or generic brand whenever it makes absolutely no difference. Flour, sugar, salt, spices, milk, eggs, meat — all of these items must adhere to the same federal standards regardless of brand. Pain relievers like Advil and Aleve all have generic alternatives that share identical active ingredients for half the price. Read the labels to compare. And when a cheaper alternative does not make the grade, return it for an exchange or refund.
FAILURE TO RETURN. It doesn’t fit right, or the color is wrong, but who has time to trek back to the store? You do. Failing to return your shopping mistakes is way at the top of the biggest money wasters.
Think of all those clothes you’ve worn once — or not at all — that could have been converted back into cash had you acted the moment you realized they’re just not right.
Plug the money leak: If you still have receipts, try to get a refund for all the NWTs (new with tags) you’re harboring. At least try for store credit. If that doesn’t work, there’s always regifting. In the future, always ask about the store refund policy. Save your receipts, and do not fail to make the return.
GYM MEMBERSHIP YOU NEVER USE. Want to make sure you never exercise? Sign up for a gym membership, and agree to have $39 a month automatically withdrawn from your bank account for the privilege.
Plug the money leak: Call immediately to see what it will take to cancel the membership. Or at the least switch to a month-to-month plan. Or opt to work out for free in the great outdoors.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”