Earlier on this blog, I have actively supported the concept of assigning higher priorities to bigger expenses in your life to improve your financial situation. However, every now and then, it helps to look at the smaller things that might be steadily leaking money from your wallet.
Occasional indulgences are perfectly fine, but if you are habitually spending money on certain items, then some financial plumbing might be in order. The point is to either seal the leaks completely, or to keep them in check so that, eventually, they don’t grow into massive drains on your resources.
Some typical popular sources of money leaks are as follows:
- Paying for cable - in spite of the fact that you don’t regularly watch more than a few channels and don’t even have enough time to watch TV.
- *Addiction* to certain foods/drinks.
- The habit of not shutting off electronic equipment after use.
- Making only the minimum payments on credit card balances (other than 0% APR balances).
- Making payments on small low interest loans first, instead of large high interest loans (yes, it may be psychologically satisfying - Dave Ramsey style - but it’s still a money leak).
And so on… you get the idea by now.
Fortunately, because of our lifestyle, serious money leaks like expensive cable and debt do not exist. However, there are other small spending irritants that I am dealing with. Here is a list of some of them (that I have identified as of yet):
1. Books: Yes, we have a massive library available to us on campus, but we still head down to book stores (usually Half Price Books) every once in a while and browse through a lot of books. Most of the times we end up purchasing a few books we like. They are usually cheap enough so that we can afford them (or at least that is our perception), but they are really not *necessary*. Usually, it ends up like this: “Wow, this book is awesome, I want it” - and the thoughts of checking it up in the library, or trying to see if I can get it cheaper online just vanish.
Current fix: Avoid visiting book stores.
2. Diecast vehicles: This issue has been existing since more than 20 years - I think it’s been hard-wired in me by now. I just can’t take my eyes off good quality diecast vehicles. Cars, motorcycles, tractors, aircrafts - you name it and I have bought it. Usually, they are not very expensive, but at times, good ones cost more than a few decent dinners.
Current fix: Avoid stepping into shops that sell diecast vehicles. The other indirect fix I am working on is to get my wife to shorten her shopping time for clothes (too much time in a clothing shop makes my mind wander in the direction of diecast vehicles).
3. Chocolates: These are evil - especially the miniature ones. I devour them like some people eat peanuts. Generally, they never make it to our shopping lists but, in spite of that, I often find myself in front of the chocolate aisle, drooling over the “rich dark” variety of chocolates.
Current fix: Again, avoidance rules. Another great idea that’s working right now is to keep the chocolates out of sight after we buy them. We store them in a drawer at the bottom of our refrigerator. The extra work of opening the refrigerator and then opening and closing the drawer has reduced my consumption rate, so now they last longer - discourages additional purchases.
4. Library fines: Great, I spend on books … and I also spend on library late fees on borrowed books! The real culprit here is procrastination, but I prefer to blame it on the geographical positioning of our school library - it takes me a good 20~30 minutes of walking time to just return a book (I haven’t given a lamer excuse in a long time). Also, our library charges fines by the minute on certain issues and that doesn’t help me much. Here is a screenshot of the late fee schedule:
Current fix: I will try and stop procrastinating… in a few days.. or months.. sometime.
5. DSL + Landline Phone: This is a bit mindless. We need high speed internet access (else, I cannot really work on this blog from home) and the cheapest option is DSL. The problem is we need to carry a useless landline to get DSL connection and that really raises the cost by almost 100%. The only other option is a cable+high-speed-internet connection, but that turns out to be more expensive than DSL+landline (in fact, just the high speed internet itself is expensive when it is offered by a cable company) ~ so we are sticking with the DSL for now, even though that means wasting about $20 every month on landline.
Current fix: Don’t have one yet. Will someone please provide high speed internet for cheap?
So, there… these are the little holes in my pocket. It looks like temptation and procrastination are the roots causes these money leaks (duh!). So far, practicing avoidance has been working very well against temptations, but the procrastination part is a bit tricky to handle. Working on it.
Have you recognized your money leaks? how do you handle them?