MSN Money has an article up on common ways money is wasted. Here is my spin.
We(as a species) tend to do a great job of wasting money. Between inertia and the emotional pain of cutting off something we have gotten used to–whether it be Netflix or a 3rd arm–it’s hard to kill wasted costs. As Robert Heinlein said, “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”
MSN listed 4 ways to make your money go bye-bye:
1. Credit cards
According to the article, in the US, the average rate of interest is 15% for a total nation-wide debt of $850 billion-with-a-B. That’s insane. I lucked out and quit using my cards before the CARD act forced all the issuers to send their rates to the moon. I’ve opted out of every agreement change since then, while I pay off the remaining balances. 15%! If you buy something for $1000 and pay it off in a year, that’s $1150. What could you do with an extra $150? It’s time to get out the torches and pitchforks and drop by Mr. Debt’s house.
2. Overdraft fees
I set up an overdraft protection account years ago, because it was a heckuva lot cheaper than bouncing checks. It came with a 25% interest rate and a $2 fee per use. A couple of months ago, they boosted the fee to $10 per use. Jerkface, you’re already cashing in on my interest, do you have to touch me like that at the beginning of the date, too? Thankfully, we haven’t used our overdraft protection since we went on our debt-killing crusade in April of 2009. Oh, Mr. Debt! You’re going to have a really bad day when I get to your house. There will be a smoothie à la Otis when I get there. Side note: If you’ve got a dark sense of humor, rent Otis. Not only will you love it, you’ll get the smoothie joke.
3. Unused memberships, gift cards and rebates
Gym memberships are the big example here. People buy a membership because they set some awesome New Year’s resolution, use it for 2 months, then spend 6 months telling themselves they’ll start using it again soon before they finally cancel. At $30 per month, that’s $180 that could have been spent sending me presents. If you must get a gym membership, wait until spring. That’s when people tell themselves they don’t need a membership because it’s so nice out, they can just exercise outside. When people tell themselves that, the gyms cut membership costs to lure people in to start their own 6 months of denial.
Take a look at your other recurring costs, too. Do you use the cable package you have, or could you be just as happy with the next one down? Do you need the donkeys-and-kneesocks-around-the-world channel? You’ve gotten your 10 CDs for a penny, can you tell Columbia House where to go with their $20 per CD commitment?
4. Airline fees
This one is easy. Forget the 3 hour lines, fees for showing up, Pervo-Scan™, and minimum-wage molestation agents masquerading as cops. Drive whenever possible. If it’s not possible, show up in a kilt, regimental-style(assuming you are a guy!). Don’t check a bag, just ship if overnight to your hotel. Most of the time, that’s cheaper than $50 per bag, anyway. Avoid the fees as much as possible.
What other ways have you wasted money?