Aug 15, 2013

Ten money habits to quit right now

There are 10 stupid ways you're wasting money. It's not too late to change your habits!

Paying Interest

identity theftFew things in finance are as evil as interest payments. Historically, usury was looked upon as a crime, even a sin, and it wasn't uncommon for particularly greedy merchants to be burned or pilloried for charging excessive interest. Nowadays, charging excessive interest is standard practice and the greatest loan sharks of all are credit card companies, who entice you with promises of easy payment programs and large credit only to pull the rug out from under you with 18% interest.

As always, do your research. There are good credit cards and bad credit cards, and being able to tell the difference will not only save you money in the short term but, by keeping your credit score high, will make applying for things like a mortgage or car financing much less painful.

Credit card fees can be as much as 18 per cent, leaving you out of pocket in no time.

 
Bottled Water

water bottled
Whether it's the $4 "glacial" water you buy at a convenience store whenever you're thirsty and can't be bothered to drink tap water, or if you're one of those people who drinks bottled water at home, stop it! Most bottled water is a total waste of money, tap water masquerading as something exotic, and should only be consumed on trips to Mexico or in the event of a future Mayan apocalypse. Get yourself a filter and enjoy purified water at a fraction of the cost.

Water, water everywhere, and we're paying too much for it.


Health Supplements

pillsThe fitness industry has somehow convinced us -- "us" being young people between 15 and 30 looking to improve our bodies -- that the path to a Spartan physique is paved with fat burners, pre-workout vasodilators, protein powders and testosterone-boosters culled from bull testicles or rhinoceros horns (or at least you'd hope so, given what they're charging for the stuff).

It's not unusual for a weight lifter to spend over $100/month on supplements, most of them useless. What do you need to gain size and strength? Eat more calories than you burn. A good protein powder can actually save you money by helping you reach your daily goal of protein intake cheaply, but outside of that and possibly a fish oil supplement, you're best off getting your nutrients through food. Food that you have cooked yourself, even better.

Vitamins and health supplements can be an unnecessary waste of money.

 
Tax Returns

Understanding your deductibles can potentially save you thousands of dollars each year, but most people dread the experience of paying taxes and don't bother doing even the minimum amount of work to save themselves money. Familiarise yourself with your tax laws, read our tax tips to minimise your expenses -- whatever you do, don't give up a cent more than is legally required.


Wasting Food

shopping trolleyNot only does this one hurt the environment by needlessly creating more waste, but it hurts your wallet by forcing you to buy more food than you need. Learning to budget your grocery list so that you're spending just the right amount of money on food and not buying more than you can eat is part of gaining independence and being an adult. Learn which foods keep and which have expiry dates and plan your meals in advance or keep a meal schedule to minimise waste.

Don't use a trolley if you're popping in for a handful of items, or you'll come away with too much.

 
Foxtel

I know what you're thinking: Oh, no! Not my beloved Foxtel! I enjoy a good hour of television as much as the next guy, but the time has come to cut the cord. Reduce your viewing time down to the bare minimum and spend more time exercising and preparing your meals; you'll notice a huge spike in energy and a drop in your weight. And when it comes to catching up on your favourite show? There are so many good alternatives that will cost you less and cut down on wasted commercial-viewing time.


Coffee
Coffee 
Your daily -- or twice daily -- cup of coffee could be costing you big time, especially if you're lining up at the local Starbucks each morning spending more than $5 per hit of your caffeine fix.

Learn to make yourself a kickass cup of coffee. Not only will you never again be able to drink that warm brown swill passing itself off as coffee, but you'll save yourself a significant amount of money that could be better spent on necessities like groceries and rent.

Now that's a coffee.

 
The Lottery

Economists call the lottery a "stupid person's tax," and for good reason: You are never, ever going to win. Yes, you. Stop it. Stop spending $10/week on a piece of paper. Stop dreaming and take a course on basic statistics because that money will serve you much better in a savings account or stock portfolio.

And, hey, even if you do win, your poor math skills will probably land you among the many lottery tragedies.


ATM Fees

Here's one you probably didn't consider but that will cost you big time if you're careless. Using an off-brand ATM can cost you as much as $2.50 per transaction, which means if you're the type of person who regularly forgets to bring cash, you're going to find yourself steeped in needless charges and hemorrhaging money.

Aside from the nasty health implications, smoking is also bad for your wallet.

 
smoking cigarettesCigarettes

Setting aside, for the moment, the real risk to your health posed by smoking, each pack can cost as much as $20. If you're a light smoker, you're probably still spending as much on cigarettes each month as you do on your mobile phone contract, and it's not unheard of for heavy smokers to spend more on cigarettes each month than car insurance or even groceries.

Then there's the health risks (sorry, but it has to be said). Not only are you spending money on a habit that is slowly killing you, but you can expect to pay even more money down the line on doctors, hospital visits and medications. Do yourself a favour and kick the habit.

This article originally appeared in AskMen. Read more: http://www.news.com.au
 

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