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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?