6 Little Things That Suck Zeroes Off Your Bank Balance
Do you ever get the feeling that, like a damaged pipe your bank balance has been leaking money for some time?
Do you ever wonder where the money has been going?
Well, you're not alone, a good number of hardworking folks are also beset with this “lean bank balance syndrome” despite busting their tails to earn good paychecks.
But not to worry, below are 6 little things I suggest you pay attention to if you want to block those leakages and fatten your balance.
1. Shopping Without a List
Picture this: Your co-worker is getting married in a few days, he's been eyeing this Cutlery set for quite some time and he’s always been so helpful to you at work that you can't stomach the thought of not getting him a wedding present. You walk into the shopping mall and all of a sudden get lost and dazed, in a beautiful way, by the bright gentle lights and the sights and sounds that greet you. You walk around, trying to find a cutlery set, and then all of a sudden the voices in your head go like this:
Aargh, it's so noisy in here.
Hold on, what's going on there? Why are there so many people?
Mountain climbing shoes are on sale. That's a bargain! I am going mountain climbing next month, I actually need this.
Oh, that Microwave looks elegant. It's at 0% interest for 3 months. The size and wattage are perfect and it has a large interior capacity.
Didn't my wife want that Blouse? It's only $40. I should get her something.
Wait, what was I supposed to get for (insert co-worker's name here) again?
See what happened there? Merchants and retailers have studied the inner workings of a consumer’s mind and as such, they design malls (whether online or brick-and-mortar) with the sole aim of persuading people to buy things.
- Whether you’re going out to shop heavily or just to pick a pair of socks, it helps to write down what exactly you need to buy just so you don't go impulse buying. To have your shopping list on the go, you can leverage note-taking apps like Evernote.
2. The Free-Trial Movement
Is there anything companies love more than making profits? Yes, there is: Making guaranteed recurrent profits. Companies love to retain a customer and keep making money from them monthly hence the popularity of subscription-based businesses.
Online services have taken it a notch higher by offering free-trials in exchange for credit card details.
A lot of well-meaning people sign up for 30-day free trials of things, intending to cancel when it’s about to expire. Problem is:
Some of these companies make unsubscribing as difficult as possible. You’re not given any reminders your trial is about to expire, and if you do manage to remember, you’re often forced through a labyrinthine, confusing, and frustrating cancellation process.
- Do not enter your credit card details unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- If you must sign up for a free trial then, by all means, sign up for one that doesn't require your credit card details.
3. Unused Gym Membership
Gym membership is also a subscription-based service and it’s quite popular.
At the start of every year, in a bid to maintain physical fitness and good health, millions go out in droves to their local gyms to sign up for memberships,
The average gym membership costs between $60 and $80 a month, add the sign-up fee, you’re looking at a juicy $1200 a year. But unfortunately about 67% of these people —of their own volition—never set foot in the gym again after the first day. Think of it as flushing $1200 down the toilet.
- Don’t subscribe to a gym unless you're absolutely sure you'll use it.
- Cancel all unused subscriptions
4. Abuse of Credit Cards
According to a study by Psychology Today, Credit cards encourage overspending. And that’s a no-brainer because if you almost exclusively use your card to pay for things, it’s a lot easier to spend more than your budget since you aren’t seeing the money. You simply swipe a card and boom!!! You check out.
Keep spending like this and by the end of the month you’d have riddled your credit card with debts and set your bank balance back by a pretty good measure. But that’s not all.
You are expected to pay back, and if you miss a credit card payment by even one day, you’ll get slapped with a $25 late fee ($35 if it’s the second time in six months.)
- Write a budget and stick to it
- Leave your card at home
5. Not Automating Saving
“Why automate my saving”, you ask? Well for starters it makes it easier to resist temptations, especially when deciding whether to save or not to save for a particular month. It’s one of the surest ways to fatten your bank balance because it makes the decision-making less tempting
If you put savings on manual, there’ll be months when you won’t feel like saving a single dime. In such months you’ll feel like enjoying yourself at restaurants and going on a shopping spree over a couple of weekends.
Also, by not putting your saving on auto-pilot, you stand the risk of having to pay everybody else first —the landlord, the credit card company, the telephone company, the government, and on and on— before paying yourself. After paying all others you realize there’s very little money left.
All in all, it forces you to be more frugal
- Put your savings on auto-pilot, so, every time you receive your paycheck, there is an automatic transfer of a certain amount from your bank account into different savings or investment accounts.
6. Missing Out on Discounts
The prospect of paying a list of bills aren't particularly attractive. In fact, a lot of people (myself included) wish they didn't have to pay them. But hey, bills are a part of our existence we need to pay them to enjoy the water, electricity, natural gas etc. But you know what’s more painful than falling behind on your bills? It’s not taking advantage of available discounts simply because you were too afraid to ask for it.
While bills such as rent and utilities are for the most part non-negotiable or at best difficult to negotiate. Other bills like Internet, Cable, Phone, and Medical have rates that are pretty flexible, should you be willing to ask for discounts and special offers.
Most of these service providers are willing to give discounts just so you won't jump ship to their competitors.
- Ask (nicely of course) for discounts when you pay in full.
- Ask for compensations when you receive below par service say, at a restaurant.