May 31, 2021
You know where your debts lie, how much you owe in utilities every month and where to shop for the best deals. That means you’ve got your budget all figured out, right?
In truth, it’s a real challenge to keep track of everywhere your money is going — and it’s even harder to make sure it’s always going to the right places. Every account, service and product you use has its own fees and rates, and companies are putting out new offers all the time.
So every now and then, it pays to take stock of your automatic payments and see whether you’re losing more than you should. You might be able to save hundreds or even thousands to bolster your emergency fund, eliminate your debts quicker or move up your retirement date.
Here are five invisible ways you could be wasting money and how to fix them.
1. Inflated insurance rates
It’s easy to set-and-forget all of your insurance policies, but you should never forget how much money is leaving your bank account every month.
Are you sure the company that offered you the best coverage for the best price years ago is still the superior choice? Rates change fast, and any loyalty discounts you might be getting by sticking around could pale in comparison to the savings you find elsewhere.
Some experts suggest poking around for better rates at competing companies every six months. That includes car insurance, home insurance and life insurance premiums. If you haven’t already invested in life insurance, remember that term policies — which only last as long as you need them — make protecting your family much more affordable.
2. Little-to-no interest bank accounts
Banks only flourish because they get to hold on to our hard-earned money. Make sure they’re paying a fair price for the privilege.
Traditional savings accounts from the big banks typically pay a pittance in interest — right now, something like 0.01 per cent to 0.05 per cent. Digital banks, which don’t have to pay for brick-and-mortar locations or lots of staff, can offer you much more.
3. Unconscious overspending
The big purchases are easy to keep track of — the new rug, the piano lessons for the kids, the hammock for the backyard. But no one wants to scribble down every packet of gum they buy.
So they don’t. And every tiny tap of the debit card goes without record. The same goes for that streaming subscription you never use and that free trial that suddenly became not-so-free.
To make sure you’re only spending what you want on the things you want, consider using an automatic budget tracker like MyMarble. In addition to keeping an eye on your purchases, the software can help you achieve other money goals like improving your credit score or reducing debt more quickly.
4. High mortgage interest
No one actually likes their mortgage, so don’t act like you’re attached to it. If you can switch to a better loan, do it.
Mortgage rates remain at historic lows, though they’re starting to climb back up. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to refinance and potentially slash your monthly payments by hundreds of dollars. You can use a free online comparison service to track down the best offers from dozens of lenders.
So long as you’ve got good credit and minimal debt, you should qualify for the lowest rates available. Just be sure to check your credit score before you get started.
5. Shopping without getting rewarded
Even when you’re spending money, you should be making money. Too many people leave cash on the table when they could get rewarded for buying items they want anyway.
Buying just about everything with a cash back or reward credit card is one obvious method.
Likewise, you can earn free gift cards when you shop online through a service called Swagbucks. Plus, you can earn even more by answering surveys or watching videos, if you have the time.