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Breaking Bad: 6 Habits That Suck Zeroes Off Your Bank Balance

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Tobi Abdulgafar
June 22, 2020

What’s better than $100? $1,000. What’s better than $1,000? You get my point. 

Lately, though, has it felt like your savings account balance has been moving in the other direction? It’s almost as if your account is somehow  leaking money.  

If you’re scratching your head and wondering where the money is going, you’re not alone. For many, monthly fixed expenses like auto insurance and utilities consume a large chunk of our budget - and rates keep rising. On top of that, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are dealing with complete job loss or income reduction.

If you’re lucky to have experienced an actual increase in your income these days, it’s likely you still  have to stretch your paychecks to cover your wants, needs and debts or savings.

Bad habits that cost you money

Here are six money habits that could be stopping you from growing your savings.

  1. Freestyle shopping
  2. Getting lured in by a free-trial offer
  3. Skipping the gym
  4. Using your credit cards irresponsibly
  5. Not automating savings
  6. Not comparison shopping

Freestyle shopping

We’re all guilty of hitting the mall or grocery store without a list in hand. But this freestyle shopping is one habit that is sure to be a roadblock to growing your savings account

A typical scenario: Your co-worker is getting married in a few days, and you’ve been meaning to pick up the cutlery set listed on their wedding registry. Your co-worker is always helpful at work, so you can't stomach the thought of not getting him a wedding present. You walk into the shopping mall and within minutes, you have forgotten your mission. The sights and sounds of all the stores have your mind going in a million directions.

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 grill looks awesome. It's 0% interest for 3 months. That’s a great deal.

Didn't my wife want a new tennis outfit? This top is 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? Retailers have studied the inner workings of a consumer’s mind and as such, they design malls and shopping experiences with the sole aim of persuading people to buy things.


Whether you’re going out to shop for a major purchase or to grab a few grocery items, write down exactly what you need to avoid impulse buying.  Try a note-taking app like Evernote or Google Keep to jot down other items that grab your attention. Like those new shoes you saw.

Getting lured in by a free-trial offer

Is there anything companies love more than making profits? Yes - making guaranteed recurring  profits. Subscription-based businesses are more popular than ever. Think, Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club, or Netflix. Companies love the set-it-and-forget-it business model because it makes retaining a customer (and profits) easier.

And one of the best ways to lure in customers? Offer a free trial. It’s great to be able to try out a service or product before you buy, but nothing is really free. You usually have to submit your payment information first, then you can begin the free trial. 

After the trial period is over, you have to actually remember to cancel the subscription service if you don’t want to pay. Popular free-trial periods are seven days or as long as 30 days. And 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 confusing, frustrating labyrinthine of a cancellation process.


First, review your budget to identify any subscriptions you are currently paying for. If you aren’t using the service, cancel it. 

If you’re shopping for a new service or product, don’t enter your credit card details until you’re absolutely sure you are willing to pay for the product or service.

Skipping the gym

A gym membership is another example of a monthly expense that so many of us pay for but don’t use.

A gym membership can cost anywhere from $10 to over $100 a month. The unfortunate truth, though: About 63% of people never set foot in the gym again after the first day they sign up, according to a survey from Finder.com.


Don’t join a gym unless you're absolutely sure you'll use it. Instead, try downloading a free fitness app for your smartphone or subscribing to a fitness channel online. Even better, call up a friend and go for a walk!

guy budgeting on a piece of paper

Using your credit cards irresponsibly

On one hand, credit cards can be a great financial tool to help build credit. On the other hand, they typically encourage overspending. If you almost exclusively use your credit card to pay for things, it’s a lot easier to spend more than your budget since you aren’t seeing the money leave your bank account right away.

If you keep a balance or are late on making a payment, you’re paying more money out on interest and fees. A late payment credit card fee can cost you as much as $39. Even worse is that a late payment can ding your credit score.


Leave your credit card at home. Instead, write a budget and stick to it. While using your credit card may be a smart move for major purchases such as travel or a major appliance, make sure you have the money in your budget to pay it off as soon as the bill comes.

Not automating savings

When you put your long-term savings on autopilot, it’s a surefire way to fatten your bank balance. You likely won’t even notice the money moving out of your regular spending account. Whether you’re saving for retirement or a new house, knowing your savings are growing every month is a great feeling.


For every paycheck, set up an automatic transfer of a certain amount from your bank account into a separate savings account.

Not comparison shopping

If you were ready to buy a new car, you wouldn’t think twice about checking out a couple of car dealerships, right? Well, the same goes for your car insurance, internet, cable and cell phone plans. These monthly bills typically consume a large portion of our monthly spending. When you shop around, don’t be afraid to switch providers.


Ask (nicely of course) for discounts. For instance, many providers will offer a discount if you are able to pay in full or sign up for automatic bill payment. 

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