The most fundamental step in your money-saving strategy is to find the holes in your budget and close them up as soon as possible. As you close each leak in your budget, you might find that you’ve exponentially increased your ability to save and invest. You’re closer to breaking the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck than you think!

Our list of common money-wasting expenses can help you identify your budget weaknesses and give you the power to change them.

  1. Paying late fees – Not only does your credit score take a hit, but you could end up paying $15-$35 in late fees. That’s approximately 4-7 meals!
  2. Paying ATM withdrawal fees – While the ATM in the gas station up the street from the house certainly is easier to stop at on your way out, the cost of convenience is very high.  You can expect to throw away at least $4 with each transaction that you make at every ATM that isn’t in your bank’s network. Consider banking with an institution that is closer to where you live or work or use your debit card to get cash back when you make purchases (be careful with this.  Some institutions also charge a cash back fee for debit transactions.)
  3. Carrying a balance over and paying interest – Credit card debt is designed to keep you from experiencing financial freedom.  Carrying a balance from month to month can cost you lots of money in interest and make your credit score take a hit.
  4. Keeping your money in a low-interest account – Put your savings in higher interest accounts and make your savings work for you.
  5. Not using your Healthcare or Dependent Care FSA properly – For some, this means not using all of the funds in your FSA.  For others, this means signing up for their employer’s FSA plan.  You don’t pay taxes on contributions to your FSA and you can use those funds to pay for health care, co-payments, and child care.
  6. Paying full retail price for something – Which department stores do you LOVE to shop at?  Have you noticed that everything goes on sale at some point in time?  Wait to make purchases until you have both saved the money for the full price of the item AND the item has gone on sale or clearance.  Take advantage of web coupons and promo codes for purchases made online.
  7. Improper use of coupons – Use coupons to only buy the goods that you were planning on buying anyway. Be sure to review your coupon holder often and don’t let coupons expire!
  8. Paying for things you don’t use –How often have you seen the gym since you signed up last January?  Don’t let your subscriptions go to waste.  Make sure you are taking full advantage of what you pay for each month in services.