Are your bad spending habits breaking your bank? You’re not alone. Many busy moms share these mistakes.
Time and money: the two commodities we never seem to have enough of. While we can’t help you with your time dilemma, we can help you create more money—or at least spend less. Here are some of the more common spending mistakes busy moms make, and how to avoid them.
A quick trip to get cash out of the closest ATM can be costly if the machine is not owned by your bank. Out-of-network fees average $2-$3 per pop. At an average of twice per week, that can end up costing you more than $300 a year. Instead, get into the habit of using an in-network ATM. If that’s not an option, switch to a more convenient bank.
Some of us have such bad tap water at home that it warrants us spending the money to buy water. But for the majority of us, the only benefit is that of convenience. Instead, save your money by purchasing a reusable sport bottle and fill it with filtered tap water.
Gas stations that have little competition, and those in convenient locations, tend to charge higher prices for gasoline. Rather than pay for convenience, find a less expensive gas station along your route. At 10¢ per gallon less, depending on how much you drive, the savings could add up to a few hundred dollars per year. There are several smartphone apps which can help you keep gasoline expenses to a minimum. Our favorite is Gas Buddy.
Read Related: 7 Tips on Managing Money & Relationships
Other than chocolate, few things are more tempting than stopping at the first available fast food joint, especially when you’re tired or low on patience, and the kids are whining I’m hungry. But a quick detour through the drive through could end up costing you around $20. To take the edge off their hunger, and boost your energy level, keep a box of granola bars or some other nutritious snack in the car. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be out and about with the kids during mealtime, why not bring sandwiches and have a “picnic” in the car?
Unnecessary Dry Cleaning
It used to be that most business and formal attire needed to be dry cleaned. That’s not necessarily true today. Technology has allowed the garment industry to produce new and innovative fabrics that are washer and dryer safe. With the price of dry cleaning being anywhere from $4-$20 for a single garment, being able to hand wash an item can be a huge money saving option. So next time your dress needs freshening, don’t just assume it needs to be dropped off at the cleaners. Check the label to make sure it’s really necessary.
Movie Rental Late Fees
Why is it so much easier to find time to pick up a movie than it is to find the time to drop it off? If you’re habitually incurring late fees because you never return films on time, then switch to a strategy that meshes better with your busy lifestyle. Consider the Blockbuster or Redbox kiosk at your grocery store (you’re there every week anyway), or a subscription service that allows you to return them by mail.
Quite often, a popular branded product is made at the same plant and with the same exact ingredients as the generic version. Sometimes even the packaging (except for the label) is exactly the same. So when possible, look for opportunities to buy the less expensive generic or store brand alternative. Not only will you save a bunch of money, you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you stood up to all that marketing hype that’s being thrown your way.
Stopping for Coffee
Sure, it’s convenient. But for the price of one small cup of coffee at McDonalds, you can have a week’s worth of coffee if you make it yourself. Don’t even get us started on that premium coffee chain a cousin politely refers to as “Fourbucks.” And we complain about the price of a gallon of gas? If you like your coffee spruced up, spend a few dollars on a rich coffee creamer instead.
A friend of ours was spending about $185 month on a storage unit. She described it as “bunch of stuff” that she had collected over the years, and she wasn’t even sure what was there. After losing her job and having to move out of state, we convinced her to sell the stuff rather than move it. As it turned out, most of the items she no longer needed, and she was hanging on to them purely out of habit. The sale of the items yielded about $600. So if you’re paying for storage, ask yourself if you really need what you’re saving. And if so, is it worth paying for storage versus its replacement value? If not, turn what you can into cash or give it away to your favorite charity (and get a tax deduction).
Save a nickel, save a dime; they add up to dollars over time.