Monday marked the start of America Saves Week, an annual event organized by the American Savings Council to spread financial knowledge and encourage us all to save a little more. So in the spirit of saving more and spending less, here are 5 things that might be causing you to go over budget:
1. Food – There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but that doesn’t mean eating 3 square meals a day needs to cost you an arm and a leg. Making small changes like only eating out once a week, making coffee at home, or not buying the store brand instead of the name brand can make a big difference to your wallet.
2. Friends – Yea, that’s right. You would save more money if you didn’t have any friends. Get rid of ‘em. But in all seriousness, we all have one or two friends who influence us to spend more than we should. They could be the old-fashioned bully who’s always pressuring you to splurge with them on a night out or they might be the enabler who justifies your bad money habits with statements like, “But you deserve it!” Shut these frenemies down by remembering that it’s okay to say, “No.” Maybe you don’t have the money for dinner out and a movie, so offer to do a movie night in at your place instead. Be firm about sticking to your budget and offer less expensive alternatives.
3. Subscriptions – I’m not just talking magazines, although you should cancel those if you don’t read them, too. But more than likely you’re paying monthly for a service you don’t really use. Like cable. Or a gym membership. Or talking minutes on your cell phone (who uses minutes any more?). Look through your budget for recurring costs that could be cut down or eliminated.
4. Overdraft Fees – Americans spent 32 billion dollars on overdraft fees in 2013. That’s a little over $100 per person. The ability to overdraft your checking account can be a lifesaver if you use it infrequently and only in the event of an emergency. If you’re overdrafting your account every week, it might be time to rethink your budget. Use tools like mobile banking and balance alerts to prevent mistakes that take you below the $0 mark.
5. Apathy – Nothing is worse for your savings account than when you stop caring about it. It doesn’t ask for much, just a small deposit here and there. And you’ll find the better you treat it, the more your savings will love you and give back to you in return. Don’t treat savings as optional. Whether you save $1 a week or $100, saving is always significant. Don’t ignore it, just do it!