Even the financially savvy have small expenses that can add up to big budget dings.
For example, the expense that most often escapes me is when I order food delivery via the Seamless app too much. Ordering two meals per day can easily add up to $30 to my monthly expenses. And I don’t see it on my account for at least a day or two because I use PayPal. Come to think of it, anytime I buy items online via PayPal, I have to remind myself to mentally subtract the funds from my bank balance.
My solution is first to use my debit card instead, so I see it post on my account. Also, I use InstaCart or Fresh Direct instead, which are websites and apps for ordering groceries. When I order groceries online, I save money because I’m not tempted to buy extra items as I move the cart around the aisles. Plus, if food is delivered in an hour or two, I can add on a precooked meal from the grocery store for half the price of ordering on Seamless.
We asked three experts how they manage their own budget killers so you can be inspired to find ways to curb yours.
Expert 1: Leah Ingram, financial blogger
Ingram is a popular blogger known online as The Confident Spender. She has published numerous articles on how to be smarter financially.
“This isn’t so much about tracking expenses as limiting them,” Ingram said. “Pay with cash for things like that cup of coffee out or if you want to go to lunch. If you don’t have the cash, you can’t do it. No reaching for the debit or credit card. I find that if I actually see the cash going out of my wallet, I’m less likely to spend it without giving thought to it first.”
Her secondary strategy is to try to first use gift cards. “I will only ever buy Starbucks if I have a Starbucks gift card, likely left over from holiday or birthday gifts,” she says.
Expert 2: Kimberly Palmer, author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth while Raising a Family”
“My small expense that adds up is stopping at the grocery store to pick up something that I forgot on a previous trip, because, of course, what ends up happening is that I buy even more than I planned,” Palmer says. “So my tip for stopping that is to sit down and plan my meals and items I need once a week and then really try to stick to that without making extra stops at the store.”
Buying extra groceries might mean you end up with spoilage because you can end up with far more food in your fridge than you’ll actually eat. One way to avoid this, in addition to limiting your trips, is to use an app called My Pantry 2 to track what groceries you already have. When you know how many tomatoes or pounds of meat you have in your fridge now, you’re less likely to buy more. Have a system where you update the app at least once per day as you use what you have and when you buy more.
Expert 3: Leonard Wright, San Diego-based certified public accountant (CPA) and personal financial specialist (PFS)
When you have a job that requires a lot of travel in your car, forgetting to track some of your mileage can cost you reimbursement that offsets both your gas expenses and wear and tear on the vehicle.
To tackle his problem with forgetting to track mileage, Wright uses an App called MileIQ, which provides detailed mileage tracking. You can turn it on any time you take a trip and it will track your mileage for you. It will also provide detailed reports and add the trips to your calendar to help you with stellar documentation. He prints off both the calendar and mileage documentation to show his employer. It will also calculate the amount your company owes you on your behalf. For instance, if you are owed .50 cents per mile and you drove 2,500 in miles for work in one month, MileIQ will calculate that you are owed $1,250. The app is free if you are tracking 40 trips or less per month. It costs about $60 per year if you need more tracking than that.
As you can see, even the financially savvy have expenses creep up on them, but they’ve found ways to manage the damage. What budget killers sneak into your wallet? Let us know in the comments below!
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