Money & Banking

4 money mistakes that are costing you thousands

4 money mistakes that are costing you thousands

Discussing money with our loved ones is awkward at best – and intimidating and nerve-wracking at worst. While budgeting is by no means a sexy topic of conversation, it’s a necessary endeavour to achieving your goals and creating the life you want.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of financial decisions that cost us dearly – just think about what you could do with an extra $2,500 to $5,000 in your pocket. It’s not typically one big ticket item that breaks a budget, but rather, “death by a thousand cuts” as the saying goes. The bright side is that your simple mistakes often have simple solutions.

1. Making only minimum payments on your credit card

Making minimum-only payments is a financial No Man’s Land. Case in point, if you have a credit card with a balance of $5,000 and an interest rate of 19.9%, you’re required to pay two per cent as a minimum payment on a declining balance – think $100 on the first month, $99 on the second month, and so on. At that rate, it will take you about 65 years – and more than $22,000 in interest! – to pay off your credit card.

If you take that same scenario and upgrade to a fixed payment of $125 per month, you’ll be debt-free in just over five years (assuming you’re not reusing the card). Of course, you’ll still pay $3,274 in interest, but your future-self will thank you for the saved time and money.

The solution: Do your best to put your credit products away. If you absolutely must use credit, be sure to make higher than minimum payments.

2. Buying coffee-to-go everyday

A daily cup of coffee on your way to work can cost you $10-$50 per week. Multiply this by 52 weeks in a year and that cost shoots up to $520-$2,600. And remember: that figure doesn’t even include the coffees you may purchase during your lunch breaks or on weekends.

The solution: Purchase a travel mug, make your coffee at home and consider fancying up that cup of joe by adding vanilla or cinnamon. If you absolutely must have that store-bought coffee, buy yourself a coffee card and stick to an allowance of $25 per month.

3. Disregarding a weekly meal plan

We’ve all been there: you’re at the supermarket with your grocery list in hand and think to yourself, “Wait, do I already have this item in my pantry?” You purchase the product anyway, and lo and behold, it was sitting in your kitchen the entire time.

The solution: Create a weekly or bi-weekly meal plan after checking your freezer, pantry and fridge for items you might already have. Apps will also allow you to shop the flyers, compare prices and price match. And of course, only buy what’s on your list.

4. Shopping without thinking

Impulse spending can wreak havoc on both your budget and your emotions – those “good vibes” from your purchase very quickly turn to feelings of guilt and shame.

The solution: Figure out what triggers you using the TEMPO acronym – T: time; E: environment; M: mood; P: place; O: occasion – and find alternatives to spending money. In the meantime, consider leaving your credit and debit cards at home when you’re out and give yourself a guilt-free allowance.

Written by Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.