How Convenience, Negligence, and Indulgence Can Rob You Of $500,000

by Ron Haynes

There are a lot of “major” money wasters and I’ve covered several of them in past articles (read The REAL Top Money Drains) but those are usually easy to spot. What isn’t so easy to spot are the little leaks, the little foxes that spoil the vines. Far too often small amounts of cash slip through our hands and because the amounts aren’t very large, those spending indiscretions aren’t considered critical or even slightly important. Most of them occur without a thought.

That’s unfortunate because I’ve found that small amounts, over time, can compound into very large amounts (much like Ally Bank’s Raise Your Rate CD). Where the problem arises is that most, if not all, of these little expenses are nothing more than guilty pleasures or inattention to detail. But have you ever considered how much you and I are trading off for convenience and a little temporary enjoyment? What happens if we look at those expenses in annual terms and then compound them for 15 years? You might be surprised, and even a little disgusted. I was.

I looked at the following 21 money drains by compounding their costs monthly over 15 years at a 7% interest rate. Think about this, how old will you be in 15 years? Are you willing to give up these funds in exchange for a little convenience and temporary pleasure?

Money Drains

1. Overpaying for Car Insurance

With companies like InsureMe.com, there’s no excuse for spending too much for car insurance. With potential savings each year of $300 ($25/month), saving those funds for 15 years would mean an additional $7,924.06 in your pocket … all by going to a website and making sure your insurance premium was in line. It is so ridiculously easy … WHY would you NOT do it?

2. Coffee

It’s almost cliche to talk about cutting back on froufrou coffees and lattes as a way to save some money but it IS true. Buying just one brewed coffee (not even the latte!) per day at only $1.50 per workday could save you $10,301.27 over the next 15 years.

3. Food

Did you know the average family in North America throws out at least $600 in food per year because of spoilage … or the refusal to eat leftovers? Compounded with interest, that $50/month equals $15,848.11 over the next decade and a half.

4. Bank Checking Account Fees

There is absolutely NO excuse for paying bank fees! With a bank like PerkStreet (which has no monthly fees AND pays rewards, too) you can easily avoid losing $1,885.93 over the next 15 years.

Sign up for your own PerkStreet checking account here!

5. Late Fees

Whether late fees from credit cards, late car loan payments, or an occasional late mortgage payment, racking up just $200 per year in these “inattention to detail”  fees amount to $5,282.70 in lost revenue to you.

6.Leaving Money in Non Interest Bearing Accounts

If you’re leaving money in an account that pays pitiful interest (like most traditional bank savings accounts), consider moving to an Ally Bank Savings account. Earning just $100 per year means you’re earning more interest and NOT losing out on $2,641.35.

7.Credit Card Interest Charges

With the average credit card balance running around $9,000 and the average rate at 14 percent, you’ll spend $1,127.87 per year in interest charges alone. Compound that amount over 15 years without paying off your card and you’ll give up $29,791.02 in interest … plus the $9,000. The BEST way to avoid interest charges is by moving your current credit card account to a ZERO percent balance transfer card like the Discover® Motiva Card.

Apply NOW for the Discover® Motiva Card!

8. Personal Care

Manicures, pedicures, haircuts, hair highlights, massages. Sure, you may “deserve it,” but average just $20 per week on these personal items and you’re giving up $27,470.07 over the long run.

9. Car Washes

In my area, an automatic car wash costs $7. Get one twice per month and through in an annual detailing at $100 and you’re losing $7,078.82.

10. Daily Afternoon Soda

At only $1.50 per soda, and only buying one during the weekday, you’re still sacrificing $10,301.27

11. Lunches Out During the Week

I remember when I first started in the workforce and my buddies and I went out to eat once or twice per week. Once I figured out how much I was spending, I was horrified! With lunches today costing an average of $10, I don’t understand how some people do it every single day. I personally know people who make only about $10 per hour who eat out every day and thereby give up $66,033.81!

12. Vending Machine Snacks

You know the drill. At just ONE DOLLAR per day spent on junk food or candy you lose $6,867.52. How does that candy bar taste now?

13.Bottled Water

At $1.49 per bottle per day, it adds up! How does $14,365.00 for water grab you?

14. Unused Memberships

Between the gym, the hunting club, the country club, or some social club, if you aren’t using your membership, you’re not just wasting money. You’re giving up thousands in future cash. Just $50/month over 15 years means you lose $15,848.11.

15. Movies and Entertainment

With the high cost of movie tickets, combined with the exorbitant expense of 2 large drinks, a medium popcorn and a box of Sour Patch Kids, simply going to a move twice per month could wind up costing you $20,285.59 over the next 15 years.

16. Premium Fuel

I have a friend who cannot be convinced to put anything other than premium fuel in the tank of his … Buick. At 15,000 miles per year and 20 mpg and with premium fuel costing about 20 cents more than regular, that’s $150 per year and $3,962.03 over the next 15 of them.

17. Lottery Tickets/Gambling

I’m not sure if anything on this list is more wasteful than spending money on lottery tickets or gambling. Assuming $10 per week in lottery tickets (which is quite normal I’m told) you’re not winning millions … or even thousands … or even hundreds. You’re losing $13,735.03.

18. Premium Cable

Many of the premium packages as well as the satellite deals can easily cost $100 per month. Is it really worth it to be able to see every single NFL game or MLB game if it costs $31,696.23 over the next 15 years?

19. Cigarettes

It does seem that fewer and fewer people are indulging in cigarettes and given the high costs, it’s no wonder. Still, a pack per day smoker loses as much as $72,307.02 in our scenario.

20. Booze

I like a nice cold one as much as the next guy, but going out and spending $5 per day on a bottle of beer (or some other adult beverage) means you give up $34,337.58 assuming you save it instead.

21. Speeding Tickets

How much is your lead foot costing you? It doesn’t just cost you a ticket, there’s also the rising cost of car insurance (remember #1 above?). With the average ticket costing $175, getting one per year means getting there a few minutes early will cost you $4,622.37.

GRAND TOTAL: $392,283.63 of After Tax Dollars

And that is with AFTER TAX dollars. With a tax rate of just 28 percent, you’re looking at $544,838.38! That’s over a HALF MILLION dollars lost over 15 years on convenience, negligence, and indulgence?

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 3 comments }

gharkness

These are excellent ideas, but I think most of us “older folks” already got this down. There is always a need, though, for reminders like this because there are lots of younger folks that haven’t heard this wisdom already!

The only one I would argue with is number 9, car washes. Many cities, especially when there’s a drought, like there currently is in Texas, do not allow home washing of vehicles. Too much water is wasted. The car washes, though, have a grey-water capture system that is more environmentally friendly (that’s a nice way to say “I have no clue what they actually **do** with this water, but the cities seem to think it’s better than home car washing with the attendant run-off.”) In our area, at least, a quick automated car wash can be a little as $4.00.

On car insurance rates, it’s a good idea to also investigate (if you’re a homeowner) what sort of discount you can get to have your home insured by the same company. That helps me out a lot. :-)

Slinky

I would think hair cuts are less indulgence and more necessary things for a lot of people.

And I also disagree with number 9. I don’t think you need a wash twice a month all year round, but I live in a state that gets a fair amount of snow in the winter. That means salt all over the underside of your car and that just turns into rust and eats away at your car. Car washes are way cheaper than replacing rusted through parts of your car or buying a new one.

Ron

I still say that if you’re spending $20+ per week on hairstyling, you’re spending too much!
Sure there are times when a haircut or a car wash are necessary, but like everything else, getting out of balance and overdoing it because you “deserve” it or are too lazy, will result in a lighter wallet. The key is balance and it is out of balance to allow your car’s underbody to rust just to save $4 on a carwash.

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