9 Ways You Could Be Wasting Money

Sometimes it can feel like you’re doing everything right, but still not seeing results. Benjamin Franklin said, “a small leak will sink a great ship” – and he was right. A few dollars here and there can really add up, and leave you hundreds or thousands out of pocket year after year. If you’re making any of these nine mistakes, you could be missing out on serious money.

1) Forgotten subscriptions

Netflix, website hosting from your half-baked food blog from 2009 or that free software trial you signed up to and never cancelled, we’ve all forgotten about a direct debit at some stage. Forget it for one month and you’ve lost about $30. No biggie. Forget about it for a year and you could be wasting hundreds of dollars. Every time you subscribe to something, pop the monthly payment into a calendar so you never forget about that pesky $12.99.

2) Estimating costs

Specificity is key when it comes to budgeting and money. If something is $5.95, it’s not $5. If a hotel booking cost $760, it’s not $700. Estimating your expenses is a recipe for disaster, because believe it or not, $4 here and $1.20 there really adds up. If your heart skips a beat when you check your bank balance, pay closer attention to your cents. Vagueness with your outgoings could be costing you a fortune.

3) False convenience items

For every problem we have in our lives, there’s a solution being developed by the second – and we’re footing the bill for it. From magical cures for acne to a new fangled fix for your newborn’s 3am screams, we’re suckers for a bit of tactful advertising. “We splurged on a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep as sleep deprived first time parents. We only used it about 4 times,” said one regretful Instagram mum.

Before you jump to impulse purchase these quick fixes, take some time to think about whether it’s really worth it, and maybe wait for the reviews to come out.

4) Lifestyle creep

Lifestyle creep is an inevitable part of growing up and advancing in your career – nobody’s expecting you to drink $3 wine forever. As your salary increases, so can your taste, but only to a certain extent. Lots of us find ourselves upgrading our lifestyles faster than we’re upgrading our income, meaning we’re stuck in a loop of never actually having any more actual money. If you’re asking yourself “where did all my money go” every month, sit down and look at your spending. How does it compare to the way you lived 2 years ago? You could be wasting cash on lifestyle creep.

5) Buying things because they were on special

Look, nobody wants to hear this, but if you see a dress that’s $500 down to $150, you are not saving $350, you’re spending $150. Young people are spending hundreds – and probably thousands – on clothes, tech and homewares simply because they were on a special deal that we deemed “too good to miss!”. If this is something you struggle with, try avoiding sales all together.

Keep a wishlist of things you actually want, and then when you see special deals, only allow yourself to purchase something if it’s on your list.

6) Getting lazy with interest rates

Interest rates on savings accounts have been pretty low for several years now, and it’s made us lazy. If you’ve got $10,000 in a savings account at a 1.5 per cent interest rate, it can feel like a hassle to open a new account with a higher rate of 2.8 per cent – but you’re losing big money if you don’t. Apply the same rules to your credit card rates. Failing to keep up with repayments can mean losing out on interest free periods or promotional offers. Keep on top of your interest rates to avoid losing money.

Compare savings accounts from Australia’s major banks, credit unions and building societies here.

7) Habit spending

Habits are great when it means waking up at 6am to do yoga on your balcony. Mindlessly grabbing a soy flat white in a fluster on your way to your morning meeting, or buying the exact same brand of English muffins at the supermarket every week just because that’s what your Mum bought, not so much. Habit spending can take the joy out of the thing we’re buying. What was once a real treat and a chance to catch up with your colleague from the other side of the office has become a beacon of midweek mediocrity – and it’s costing you big. Habit spending also means we ignore any opportunity to save some extra cash. Being dynamic with your budget means you’ve the flexibility to allocate more funds to one thing one week, and less the next. In the case of supermarket shopping, buying own brand English muffins over your habit brand could save you $143 a year*.

8) Appointments and treatments you don’t really need

If you’re going to start forking out for pricey appointments, be it infrared saunas at $45 a pop, or naturopath appointments at $150, go in with something you want to achieve. What conditions are you hoping to improve with the help of a naturopath? What results do you want to see from the infrared sauna? Not knowing what you want to get out of these pricey services can leave you paying the price out of routine for months and years to come.

If you’re used to hearing “shall we book you in for next week?” after every appointment, reflect on whether you’re actually getting your money’s worth.

9) Not budgeting for gifts

As humans we’re amazing at justifying things, and the excuse that ‘it’s not for me, it’s for someone else’ is one of the oldest in the book. Neglecting to factor in gifts when planning your budget is a major pitfall that sees people wasting hundreds of dollars each year. Write down all the people you buy gifts for throughout the year and allocate a budget for each one. Then add 20 per cent onto the total for incidental ‘congratulations’ treats or ‘last day lunches’, and divide the lot by your number of yearly paydays. Then, you’ll know exactly how much to stash from each pay to cover all your gifting for the year—plus that extra 20 per cent of goodwill.

The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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