20 Money Mistakes People Always Make More than Once the was originally published at Shebudgets.com
With the state of today’s economy, just about everyone has saving money on their mind. Everyone knows it’s great to get a deal, but behaviorally many consumers often make the same ” penny wise and pound foolish” money saving mistakes over and over. Money spent on something too cheap to be useful, or blindly stumbling from bargain to bargain can actually deplete your bank account faster than making careful, more expensive purchases.
Some of these mistakes are huge; yet some are just small almost imperceptible practices that add up over the long haul. The trick is being able to identify these habits that throw money down the drain from these so called “money saving” practices. Here are some of the worst mistakes made by those who are not all necessarily cheapskates, but do not weigh the real value of an item against the true cost–be it actual money, time, or accrued pain and suffering.
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1. Flying Standby
Sure that bargain ticket seemed too good to be true–and you might get on the plane right away–but you could also end up having to spend the night in a bedbug ridden airport hotel after spending the whole day shifting in an uncomfortable plastic chair in the airport. You’ll never get those hours of your life back; however you will have empathy for sheep that are herded from place to place. Like the pain of childbirth, travelers rarely remember how truly awful the experience was as they brag about the great price they got on their vacation trip. They get another offer for a standby flight deal in their e-mail and they book it.
2. Being a Blindingly Loyal Customer
If you and your family has been with XYZ insurance company since forever, you may feel disloyal shopping for a better rate elsewhere. If you got a good rate in the beginning, but your premiums are heading upwards each year for no verifiable reason, it is wise to look around and see what else is out there. This goes for your auto mechanic, hairdresser, doctor, gardener or any one else who provides services that you use on a regular basis. The repeated mistake is being overcharged, but thinking that it’s rude or unkind to comparison shop under the misguided notion that you owe that provider your loyalty.
3. Cheap Toilet Paper
There are some personal items you just shouldn’t skimp on, and that especially includes items that make close contact with your skin. That four pack from the dollar store seems like a score; however, the amount you will have to use to clean yourself may clog up your toilet, costing you time with a plunger in hand. Bargain brand bathroom tissue is also scratchy and just getting the package open may require pliers. Somehow it’s hard to shell out the money for the better brand, so some keep buying the thin sheets of sandpaper. hoping they will just get used to it.
4. Going for that Great Credit Card Offer
A zero percent interest rate sends some consumers into paroxysms of pure joy, until you read that the rate is only temporary, and that so many conditions apply that you have to hire an interpreter with a magnifying glass to decipher the whole deal. This is especially true for consumers who have bad credit, due to a job loss or other circumstances that lowered their FICO score. Some credit card companies are in the business of targeting bad credit customers who are trying to make a fresh start, saying they will help you “improve your credit score”, by using their card. The interest rate suddenly zooms and the line of credit is so low that many can’t help but rack up over the limit fees, and late fees, putting them in a worse financial situation than before–and looking for another card to pay off the first one.
5. Going Shopping When Hungry
Going grocery shopping on an empty stomach is like being a lion running into a pack of slow goats. All that food makes you hungrier, and although you refrain from opening up a shrink wrapped package of steak and eating it raw, you make purchases with your stomach, not your head. If you have a long ride home, you end up buying junk food that you can open in the car and munch on the car–so much for your diet, and your food budget.
6. Being the Barter Sap
Bartering is a new take on an old way of friends helping friends. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and we all save some cash. Sometimes these agreements end up one sided, and pretty soon you’ve adopted a full grown adult. While cleaning the nasty grout from her shower tiles, you remind yourself that she did promise to help paint your kitchen or babysit your kids. It’s not going to happen–friends (or even relatives) like that will just tap you for more. Barter baiters just promise a fair exchange to get you to do stuff. Being a nice person, you won’t complain–and they count on that as they can smell as sap from a mile off.
7. Keeping Up Appearances
Going to expensive networking events when your business has hit the skids is not the way to put more money in your pocket. It seems like a great idea, but once at the event you just end up feeling envious of all of the success that surrounds you (whether they are faking it like you or not). The same goes for not letting friends in on your plight, in hopes that since they are rolling in it, they will help you find a job. You imagine that it will save money in the long run by investing in your future by keeping up your country club membership when you’re facing eviction.
8. Two Can Live as Cheaply as One?
The answer is no–they can’t. Having a roomie only works if they pick up their end of the expenses. That two bedroom apartment may not be a bargain if you have to give up a good chunk of your privacy. Getting a studio or one bedroom is probably the better option if you don’t want to have to split the cable bill that includes their pay per view addictions.
9. Cutting your Own Hair
Men especially will take one of those home haircut kits and go to town on their locks, going shorter and shorter, until they get an uneven buzz cut that gives them an “asylum patient” look, as opposed to military style hottie. Worse is when a mom decides to cut her children’s hair, having them go off to school with uneven bangs or bowl style cuts which will prompt endless teasing. Better to go to a chain hair cutting place for a few dollars than invest in an expensive hair cutting kit that will only lead to anguish.
10. Sharing your Vacation With Another Couple
Getting a great beachfront condo rental that you can afford only if you go halves with your friends seems like a great idea on paper. You will split the cost of renting, you will only have to buy one bottle of ketchup, and it will be so much fun! In reality it is not a good idea. If you have to split even the most luxurious ocean view quarters with another couple, you can bet that you will want to drown them in the surf before the sun rises on the second day. You think you got a bargain, but having to look at your next door neighbor drinking morning margaritas draped only in a towel may not be worth the money you saved. Yet, you will all pose for photos to put on Facebook telling all of your non-vacationing friends what a super time you are having, and your getaway buddies will suggest that you book the place again for next year.
11. Staying With Relatives
Worse than inviting another couple on vacation to split costs with you is staying with family while traveling just to avoid having to pay for a hotel. If you really want to spend time with them fine–but if you are just looking for a bed and breakfast, it simply won’t work. Before long you will be fixing Aunt Mimi’s garage door, and your partner will be held hostage by Uncle Jim telling old war stories. So what if it’s Florida, if they don’t like to crank up the air conditioner in July you will melt and curse the heat. Better to check into a budget hotel and take them out for lunch once during your trip. Unfortunately, when the next wedding or reunion invite comes along, you will probably do it again, as you did save a bundle after all. Aunt Mimi won’t take no for an answer, as your last visit was so great and the expectations are set.
12. Borrow a Dress for a Big Occasion
You’re in the process of losing weight, so you don’t want to invest in a new formal dress just for one occasion, so you borrow from a friend. This sets up a situation where your friend will feel entitled to raid your closet at will. You will also spend the evening paranoid that someone will accidentally step on your hem, snag a sleeve while dancing, or spill Sangria on you. Your friend will inspect the dress upon return, and even if you get it professionally cleaned, she may make a face anyway. Better to just buy a dress,tuck in the tags, wear it once a return it than go through the drama.
13. Shoveling Your Own Driveway
You see those neighbors spending money on getting their driveway plowed, yet you need a doctor’s visit and a boatload of muscle relaxers after you did it yourself. Sure, your parents never hired anyone, but that’s because they had you–when you were 20 years younger.
14. Being one of Those Neighbors
If you are a tightwad and won’t ever lend a wrench or a cup of sugar because you are the suburban Scrooge McDuck, you are not saving money–you are making enemies. There may come a time when you are lying in the driveway with a coronary and the neighbors kids just whizz by on their bikes because you are the “mean guy” on the block, and they fear you. There’s a fine line between letting others take advantage and just being cheap who staunchly believes “never a borrower or lender be”. Yeah, your motto is saving money, but your house is the first one to get egged on Halloween.
15. Underpaying Your Help
You save tons of money by not paying that kid the going rate for mowing your huge lawn, and you get away with it because he’s desperate to make some cash. You see him out there sweating up a storm, but can’t part with a glass of lemonade. After you pay him, on the way out he notices a leak coming up from the basement of your house, flooding the freshly mowed lawn. He’ll just pocket the money and keep walking. The same goes for small businesses–taking advantage of your employees inspires them to stab you in the back first chance they get. Some businesses continue that practice and wonder why they spend so much time and money taking applications and training new hires.
16. Dollar Menu Fast Food
Yeah, it’s super cheap and fills you up, but is it worth it? Most fast food places offer items with the least amount of protein and veggies on the “value” menu, leaving you with a meal of starch and grease. Pay the extra few dollars for the salad or go elsewhere. Over time, you will spend money on cholesterol medications and doctor’s visits that will far outreach the money you saved.
17. Scratch and Dent Appliances
You got a washer/dryer for peanuts as it was scratched and dented, and who knows what other beating it took on the truck? A few months in rust begins to bloom around the scratches and the dent causes the machine to rock during agitation. You probably can’t return it, as the warranty is flimsy, so you’re stuck with your bargain.
18. Cheap Flea Repellent
When shopping for flea prevention products, many just grab whatever box the store has on sale. The cheap products may work somewhat, but they are inferior to the better ones containing trusted ingredients. Better to look for the generic brand of a good topical product if you are on a budget than getting one of those powdery collars. The cheap stuff is smelly, messy and your pet may end up infested, although you did “treat” them. You will only pay in vet bills when their skin becomes infected. Still, the bargain brands fly off the shelves and many pet owners swear they are “just as good”. If only we could ask the pet.
19. Knock off Items From Car Trunk Sales
That street vendor may have a lovely collection of “Coach” handbags, and you think as it is “hot”, you got a deal on some excellent black market swag. You don’t notice that your cousin, who works in retail, is snickering at you for being a dupe, as it’s clearly a knock-off, and a bad one to boot. Oblivious, you just smile–you can’t wait for your wedding to show off your genuine “Vera Wang” gown you got on 7th avenue for a song.
20. Day Old Bread
What’s one lousy day after expiration when you got a five grain Italian loaf for half price? It was a day old when they put it out, and by the time you bring it home it’s two days old. The fact is that no one eats the whole loaf in a day never enters your mind, and soon it’s been in your breadbox for a week, growing green fungus. The same goes for wilted veggies and bruised fruit. No one ever eats it in time– but still it seems like such a bargain.