5 Money Wasters to Keep an Eye Out for and How To Manage Them

Between online shopping and discretionary expenses like food and entertainment, saving money can seem like an impossible task. And while there are plenty of budgeting techniques out there to help you control your monthly spending, you don’t have to alter your lifestyle too much to give your budget a refresher. If you’re wondering how to save money fast, making a list of your current bills is a good starting point. 

[ Read: The Best Savings Accounts of 2020 ]

Take a look at your account statements, examine them and identify where you could be saving. It all starts with understanding what you’re paying for and why and then finding ways to save. In the process, you might find yourself getting rid of an expense you deemed necessary at some point. Here are five common money wasters to be aware of to get you started.

1. Cell phone plans 

We all have a cell phone these days, but regardless of whether you’re an iPhone or an Android user, you could probably save some money by negotiating with your carrier. Here are a few things to look out for: 

  • How much data do you really need? If you have regular access to Wi-Fi in your home or at work, you may not need an unlimited data plan. On the other hand, if you’re regularly going over your data limits and paying for additional usage, an unlimited plan might be a better solution. Figure out how much data you use and what plans are available so you can find the most cost-conscious option for you. 
  • Can you join a family plan? Bundling your plan with others is an easy way to save money. If you haven’t already, see if you can join forces with a family member or friends to save on a family plan. 
  • Is there a more affordable carrier in your area? It’s no myth that certain carriers have stronger reception in different locations. But if you can find a budget cell phone carrier that works in your area, it could be worth making the switch. But make sure you don’t end up sacrificing quality. 

2. Unnecessary bank fees 

Your bank account is there to help you save and manage your money, so don’t let it be a balance dropper. Pay attention to bank fees you’ve been charged and take action to make sure they’re a thing of the past. The most common bank fees you should avoid are: 

  • Account maintenance fees: When it comes to checking accounts, many banks charge a maintenance fee unless you meet one of the requirements to waive it. This can be something as simple as setting up a regular direct deposit from work or maintaining a minimum daily balance. Some banks even offer fee-free checking. So if you’re currently paying for your bank account, figure out how to waive the fee or find a new fee-free home for your funds. 
  • ATM fees: Most banks charge a fee for using an ATM from another institution, but not all do. If you don’t have easy access to your bank’s ATMs, check out some local banks that are more accessible and consider a switch. You could also try an online bank that reimburses you for ATM fees. 
  • Overdraft fees: Getting hit with an overdraft fee is the last thing anyone needs when account balances are low. Fortunately, you can opt out of overdraft altogether to avoid the fees. Some banks even offer overdraft protection, so if you’re on the market for a new checking account, this is a good feature to consider. 

3. Annual credit card fees 

Paying for an annual-fee credit card is kind of like belonging to an exclusive club. These paid cards often come with additional perks their fee-free counterparts don’t have. But if you’re looking for ways to save, there’s a good chance you won’t even be able to take full advantage of the card benefits. No matter what perks you’re getting from your card, you’ll almost certainly find a fee-free option out there that offers similar benefits, whether you want travel rewards or cash back. And if you don’t think you’re paying any annual fees, make sure you double-check. Some cards waive the annual fee for the first year as part of a welcome offer, and after 12 months, it’s easy to forget the fee is coming.

[ Read: Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards ]

4. Cable and digital TV 

How much TV do you really watch? Chances are, you’re not taking full advantage of your cable package all of the time. Figure out your channel priorities, then give your cable provider a call to review your options. Maybe there’s a limited or seasonal package available. Or, if a larger provider services you, you might be able to save by bundling cable with other services you already use, like the Internet. However, your biggest bet to save money on TV is cutting the cable cord altogether. It may sound extreme, but with all of the streaming services on the market these days, you may still be able to build your ideal package on the cheap while maintaining access to the shows and events you really care about. 

5. Endless digital subscriptions 

Digital subscriptions may be pretty affordable on their own, but let too many stack up and you could be looking at one giant bill. Make a list of all of your subscriptions and figure out which you are actually using. An easy way to do this is to look at your credit card or bank statements, either on your own or using an online service. In either case, cancel the ones you don’t use or feel you could go without. As time goes on, you can continue to curate your digital subscriptions so that you’re only paying for what you need and use. 

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

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Mandie Kelleher

Contributing Writer

Mandie is a freelance content writer from Boston, MA. Her writing has been featured in Reviews.com, Bankrate and Insurify. She holds a B.A. in Linguistics and French from Boston University.

Reviewed by

  • Andrea Perez
    Andrea Perez
    Personal Finance Editor

    Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar who leads our news and opinion coverage. She specializes in financial policy, banking, and investing.