If someone were to take a large amount from your bank account, you’d likely notice when a transaction was declined or a payment bounced. But how quickly would you notice if a small amount were being deducted, say $ 5 or $ 10, every month?
Most of us have a general idea of the amount of money currently sitting in our accounts, but pay very little attention to each individual expenditure — especially if our bills are set on autopay. So while the ship may still be afloat, small money leaks could end up wreaking havoc below the surface.
Here are a few unexpected ways you might be siphoning cash — and how to plug up those leaks.
Ask the average American where they overspend, and chances are, they will mention food, both at restaurants and the grocery store. Yet while most of us are shoveling a large portion of our budget toward this expense, we’re wasting a ridiculous amount of it as well.
In fact, a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that Americans waste 40% of their food purchases — which equates to an average of $ 2,000 per year, per household.
Meal planning and resisting the urge to buy in bulk can do wonders when it comes to cutting down on waste and combating this socially prevalent money leak.
Banks have found plenty of ways to cash in on fees, and many act as money leeches on your accounts. Case in point: overdraft fees.
Before 2010, many banks automatically equipped accounts with overdraft protection, resulting in an average charge of about $ 35 for each transaction that put a customer in the red. However, after enactment of the Overdraft Protection Law, banks were required to get customers to opt in to receive the “protection.”
A study conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau later found that opted-in customers paid seven times more in overdraft and nonsufficient-fund fees than those who hadn’t opted in.
Bottom line: It’s important to know what you’re paying for. If you’re paying a monthly fee simply to access your funds or for services you don’t need, it’s time to reevaluate how you bank and whom you bank with.
For most, energy costs fluctuate throughout the year. But the change in price isn’t always a direct reflection of the weather outside. It can also be a reflection of the energy-saving efforts we’ve taken (or haven’t taken) within our homes.
Programmable thermostats, for instance, create a comfortable environment when it matters most — when you’re actually at home. If your heat or air conditioning is overcooling during the hours you’re away, you could be wasting nearly $ 200 each year.
Other energy hogs that could be costing you big? Outdated appliances and incandescent light bulbs. Make a few small changes and you could spend less all year long.
Subscriptions and memberships
Subscription services are easy to sign up for, but most of us aren’t as quick to put a stop to them when they’re no longer useful — probably because the average $ 10 monthly charge isn’t a noticeable enough hit to our checking accounts.
But if you’ve signed up for more than one of these services, whether it’s getting razors in the mail or a cooking magazine you have yet to crack open, those small fees can quickly add up. Take a moment to audit your subscriptions and say goodbye to the ones you no longer utilize.
Another potential money drain: gym memberships. If you joined with the January crowd but didn’t stick to your gym routine, it may be time to look into the financial benefits of canceling your membership.
Price creep on monthly bills
Cable and Internet providers are frequent culprits of “price creep.” New-customer pricing eventually expires and sometimes fees get tacked on incorrectly. If you aren’t paying attention, you could be paying far beyond your budgeted amount.
Just remember: Every little bit helps! With a little planning and some thoughtful decision making, your bank account could become much healthier — almost immediately. Just put these tips to work for you and plug up those money leaks.