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6 Little Money Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Every Month (Fix Them and Save)

By Daniel Bortz | Consumer Reports

When was the last time you took a close look at your expenses? If it’s been a while, the new year is a good time to figure out whether you’re wasting money on things you don’t really need—or may be overlooking.

This isn’t about giving up restaurants or skipping vacations. Instead, it’s about plugging those “money leaks”—small, often hidden costs that slowly drain your checking account without you even noticing. Over months and years, these small leaks can add up to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Here are six common money leaks you should look out for—with tips on how to patch them up:

1. Paying too much for car insurance. 

Once your car is 10 years old, the cost of collision coverage can be more than the vehicle is worth, says Margarita Dilone, an independent insurance agent with Crystal Insurance in Washington, D.C.

So check your car insurance policy to see whether your premiums and deductible for collision coverage equal or exceed the value of your vehicle, Dilone says. If your car truly is a clunker, it might be time to skip that coverage, which can cut your insurance bill as much as 75 percent, she adds.

2. Not bundling all of your insurance. 

If you buy insurance policies for your car and your home separately, you could be paying more than necessary. But if you bundle, you’ll probably save money.

According to Angela Testa, a State Farm representative, for each insurance policy that you buy bundled, discounts generally range from 10 percent to 20 percent, depending on where you live. According to data compiled by insuranceQuotes.com, if you live in Louisiana, for example, you could save an average of 19.68 percent off your total auto insurance and home insurance premiums by bundling. That amounts to an average of $584 per year in premiums paid in that state.

3. Overlooking checking account fees. 

Some financial institutions charge service fees typically ranging from $5 to $15 per month for checking accounts. That’s a fee some customers overlook when opening an account.

Many banks will waive these fees, however, if you meet certain requirements, such as setting up a direct deposit account, opening a second account, or completing a certain number of transactions each month.

A Bank of America Core Checking Account, as it is known, levies a $12 monthly fee but will waive it if you make a direct deposit of $250 or more, maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more, or are a student under the age of 23.

Check with your bank to see whether you’re paying a checking account fee. If you are, find out whether there are ways to have it waived—or whether the bank has a different no-fee checking account that meets your needs and can help you save money.

“If neither pans out, switch to another bank that does,” says Greg McBride, a chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

4. Not using a programmable thermostat. 

In the U.S., energy costs consume between 5 and 22 percent of the average family’s total after-tax income, according to WalletHub.com. But buying a programmable thermostat ($150 to $250 on average) can cut costs significantly.

Turning the temperature down 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours each day (such as at night) from its normal setting can help you save money—up to 10 percent, or about $180 per year, according to Energy.gov.

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10 Smart Ways to Save Money AND Transform Your Life

401(K) 2012 –
Save Money
Saving Money | Flickr

By Martin Snepp | Huffington Post

Most people would like to have more money. Whilst earning more money is sometimes out of your control, and might not always be immediately possible, how much money you spend is within your control. By becoming more conscious of how and where you spend your money, you can make your money reach further for you. Here are ten suggestions on how to save money and transform your life:

1. Stop impulse buying. When you feel the impulse to buy something, stop for a few seconds and ask yourself ‘do I really want and/or need this’? If, after stopping to ask yourself this question, you still want to buy it, that’s fine. The point is to start building awareness about when you feel the impulse to buy something and how you are feeling when the impulse arises. What do you believe the item will add to your life and how do you think it will make you feel once you own it? Many people live their lives on autopilot. Bringing awareness to the choices you make can help you to make more conscious decisions and spend your money in a more conscious way.

2. Shop smarter. With the wealth of information readily available to most people, there are many opportunities for you to shop smarter. Ways to shop smarter include: buy items online and have them delivered; requesting a discount (where appropriate) instead of paying full price; buying your groceries somewhere cheaper; buy at discount stores or thrift shops; team up with others to receive group discounts; buy in bulk; reach out to your network on Facebook to find the best deals; or you could exchange your time (instead of money) for products or services. If it is important enough to you, you will find ways to shop smarter and save money.

3. Watch out for tricks used in marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising campaigns are very clever at making you think and believe you want something you don’t really need. They are also good at convincing you to buy something simply because it appears to be a good deal. They pull on emotional strings and play on people’s weaknesses and insecurities. Building more awareness of the tricks they use helps you to resist their temptation.

4. Grow your own food. Grow your own vegetables, grow your own herbs, grow your own fruit. Not only will it help you to get outside and get in touch with nature, you know where your food is coming from, you are reducing transport mileage and you have the choice whether to grow organic produce or not.

5. Instead of buying, share items with your family, friends or community. Instead of always buying new clothes, why not try sharing with others. You could also do this for appliances such as lawn mowers, various tools etc. instead of buying expensive items you might rarely use. In Vancouver, there are multiple car share companies where car ownership is shared among many members, thus significantly reducing costs.

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