Sneaky expenses that can wreck your budgetThis content is categorized as:
When it comes to money, do your finances ever feel like a leaky faucet — the dollars and cents run out faster than they come in?
If your budget feels stretched and you haven't bought a car, remodeled or made any other major purchase, it may be time to take a closer look at your bank statement. Getting a clear picture of your spending may surprise you. In fact, the real culprit derailing your budget may be all the little things. Although small individually, incidental expenses can add up and make a big difference to your wallet as you gradually spend more, almost without notice.
5 areas to watch for sneaky expenses
We've uncovered five common causes of "expense creep," which can add up to more than $7,000 a year — and identified easy ways to help you reverse the trend.
1. The $1,100 cup of coffee
If you're "treating" yourself to coffee out every day, you might as well be drinking it from a gold cup. Spending $5 or more on fancy coffee drinks once a week may not seem like a big deal, but doing it every day — well, that adds up. It's estimated that the average American spends $1,100 annually on coffee.
Tip: Even cutting that amount in half by brewing your joe at home could save about $90 a month.
2. Hidden costs on your cellphone bill
When was the last time you closely reviewed your cellphone bill? With the average American spending $1,253 for cellphone services each year, now may be the time to take a look. You'll want to make sure you haven't been incurring any data overage fees, and you aren't being charged for parental controls you no longer need. If you spot any of these, contact your provider and update your account so that you're only paying for what you actually need.
Tip: If data overages are plaguing you, consider switching to an unlimited data plan. Or make sure your phone settings only allow you to stream music, videos and games when you're on Wi-Fi.
3. Unused monthly services
If you signed up for a gym membership in an effort to reach your New Year's goals, chances are you opted into an automatic credit card payment. But if you haven't stepped foot on a treadmill in months, it might be time to cancel that membership. An unused gym membership could be costing you nearly $600 a year. Instead, look for a gym that offers a "pay-as-you-go" option so you're aware of how much you're spending on classes when you do attend.
The average American spends $3,279 annually for subscription services, such as TV, video and music. As more options pop up, it's good to take a periodic inventory at what you have, including magazine subscriptions.
Tip: Review each line of monthly credit card and bank statements to identify what subscription and membership services you're paying for. This is also where many "automatic renewal" options show up. Keep the ones you're using, and cancel the ones you aren't to avoid unexpected or unwanted charges.
4. Carrying a credit card balance
If you're out of the habit of paying off your credit cards in full each month, you may need to either rethink your spending or cut down on credit card use. Why? Because carrying a balance and paying interest has given Americans the average credit card balance of $5,221. Look for zero percent balance transfer offers to reduce interest spending immediately (assuming you can pay off the balance before that zero percent offer expires).
Tip: Start using cash exclusively while paying off a credit card balance so you don't incur additional debt.
5. Throwing away food at home
Cooking at home is a great way to save money. But throwing away food in the process is not. Many Americans with good intentions go grocery shopping, spending an average of $412 a month, but never use up what's in the refrigerator. The best way to cut down on wasted food costs is to shop more often (maybe a few times a week) so you have less food sitting around.
Tip: Make a detailed list before you hit the store, avoid shopping when you're hungry and plan out weekly meals.
Every dollar saved in one part of your budget frees it up for other things, such as saving for summer vacation or your own retirement. Talking with a financial professional about the extra money you're saving can help you create a strategy to achieve your short- and long-term financial goals.
This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions to help make your retirement dreams a reality.