15 Ways To Spend Money Without Realizing It

Have you ever logged into your checking account only to gasp and screech, “Where did all my money go?” We can lose track of our finances in many ways, but the best way to stay on top of our money is to know where it goes.

Bank accounts suffer from “hidden” fees. These fees could include recurring charges, impulse buys, or costs we were unaware could be lowered.

Whatever the case, the following ideas were designed to help you find these hidden fees and stop succumbing to the banks’ money-hungry ways.

1. Recurring Subscriptions

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Have you thought about how many recurring subscriptions you have? Maybe you signed up for a streaming service because you wanted to binge-watch a show, but now it’s been six months, and you haven’t been back on that site. That’s six months of money down the drain.

Take a good look at your bank account each month and check for automatic payments. These could be subscriptions, apps, or services that have increased in price without you knowing it. From there, you can start to trim what you don’t need.

2. Not Monitoring Utility Usage

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Wasted energy impacts your electric bill. Leaving lights on, using appliances during peak times, and not controlling your thermostat will drain your bank account.

Avoid running your air conditioning or heater when you aren’t home, or look for other ways to stay comfortable, like opening windows or using a cozy blanket. Keep that money in your bank account.

3. Avoid Take-Out

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Hitting up the drive-thru or having your dinner delivered adds up during a month. Once you consider the price of the meal, plus the service fee, plus the driver’s tip, you may have paid as much as double the menu price. Eating out less frequently leaves more money in your pocket.

Consider trying a meal plan. Cook a week’s worth of lunches, pack them separately, and take them to work. That’s an excellent alternative to spending $10-$15 a day on lunch. Plus, homecooked meals are generally much healthier.

4. Buy Store Brands

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There’s a time and place to spend extra money on quality products. But most store-brand items are just as good as products with a familiar logo. For instance, compare the name brands with store brands next time you go into a grocery store.

This can be a jar of pasta sauce or over-the-counter medications. Most of the time, they have the same ingredients but cost a fraction of the price.

5. Not Utilizing Credit Card Rewards

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With most major credit card companies offering cash-back rewards on daily purchases, it’s silly not to take advantage of them. Some companies give back up to 5% on things you buy every day, like gas and groceries. If you’re financially responsible, using a rewards card and paying off the bill at the end of the month could net you hundreds of dollars in rewards.

Look up the current deals on credit cards and find one that fits your needs. But remember to pay off the balance each month.

6. Wasting Food

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I struggled with this for a long time. I would buy a lot of groceries, thinking I would cook all week, but I let it ruin in the fridge. Talk about throwing money right down the garbage disposal.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry; you’re not alone. It’s estimated that Americans throw away as much as a third of the food we buy. The best way to combat this is to be more diligent in our meal planning and make sure we use food before it expires.

7. Ignoring Your Health

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Taking care of our bodies with regular exercise, proper diet, and routine health exams will keep us healthy and save money in the long run. Hospital bills and medication can be pretty pricey.

Our bodies are like fine-tuned machines. Treat them right, give them scheduled maintenance, and avoid costly repairs.

8. Paying For Convenience

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How many of us are guilty of paying for convenience? I would say many people are, especially if you’re reading this article.

Convenience fees could include choosing to order food or have items delivered instead of picked up at the store. They could also include paying for parking when it’s free two blocks away. It might seem overly frugal, but like everything else, these charges add up to a lot of money over the years.

9. Size of Your Home

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Having a big home can be a luxury. However, it can also be a money pit when it comes to maintenance. The larger the house, the more you will most likely pay in mortgage, property tax, utilities, and maintenance, such as landscaping and basic repairs.

This is why many people choose to downsize to smaller homes when they no longer need the extra space. If you’re tired of the constant upkeep or want a cozier home, you can save a lot of money by switching to a townhome or a condo with amenities like gardeners and on-site repairs.

10. Invest in High-Quality Items

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There are times when you want to spend a little more money. Going cheap on items or services can lead to constant breakdowns or replacements. Spending more money upfront will avoid these recurring costs over the years.

You should spend extra money on appliances, health care, home repair, safety equipment, and furniture. These items are already expensive, but you should spend a little more to ensure they will last a long time.

11. Interest Rates

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Forgetting to pay off your credit card each month results in interest accruing on the account. Most credit card companies keep their interest rates high to keep you in debt by just paying the minimum each month, with most of that payment only going towards the interest.

These interest rates can snowball. Next thing you know, your monthly bill stays the same because you can only afford to pay the minimum. You’re giving money to the credit card company instead of paying what you owe. This cycle can last years and cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

12. Late Fees

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Much like interest charges on credit cards, these unwanted bills can also sneak up on you. Forgetting to pay a bill can result in a minor fee, and consistent forgetfulness can rack up serious charges over time.

Your best bet is to use automatic payments whenever possible. This ensures the bill is paid and you don’t forget it if you have a busy week.

13. Not Negotiating Your Monthly Bills

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This happens to many people. You notice that one of your recurring bills has gone up $25. If you use automatic payments and aren’t on top of your finances, this could have been going on for months without you realizing it.

Cable, cell phone, and internet companies are notorious for this. They initially sell you on a special offer that is only good for a year and then hope you overlook the upcharge once month 13 comes around. The odds are that they still have the same program you signed up for a year ago; you just have to call them and ask.

14. Impulse Spending

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How easy is it to browse a website, see something you like, and buy it without considering it first? Sites like Amazon make it simple to purchase something impulsively. They store our payment information, and then a few clicks later, it’s getting ready to ship. It’s like they have us brainwashed.

The best defense for this type of impulse shopping is to erase your saved payment information from these sites. That forces you to stop and evaluate whether you really want to make that purchase. After a few minutes, you might realize it’s a waste of money.

15. Account Fees

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Sometimes, certain banks charge customers a monthly fee for banking with them. But there is usually a savvy way to get around those fees. Often, you can pass over these monthly charges by going paperless, having direct deposit, keeping a set minimum balance, and avoiding overdraft fees.

Stop giving the bank extra money each month. They have more than enough.

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