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Blogging for Change Blogging For Change
by Jesse Campbell on October 13, 2014

Man in the grocery store about to make one of seven small money mistakes that really add up

For a lot of us, money doesn’t start making itself heard until it gets nice and big. Buying a new home? You’re fully aware of how much you’re spending on what. Same goes for your other big purchases and expenditures.

Small money, however, has a tendency to slip through the cracks. We might be aware of the fact that we’re slightly overspending or wasting a little bit of money, but we don’t worry about it, because it’s such a small amount. Unfortunately, those small amounts add up over time, meaning those little bad habits can end up being quite costly indeed.

If you care about money (and I have to assume you do, since you’re reading this), then you don’t want any of yours going to waste. With that in mind, here are seven very small, very common money mistakes that add up over time.

Mistake #1: Buying small and buying often

This is basically the inverse of buying bulk. You need something, you buy a small quantity of it, and soon you have to buy some more. The fix, however, isn’t to just go ahead and buy everything in bulk. Buying in bulk isn’t always the best choice. The trick is to recognize those small purchase patterns. Maybe you go to the gym four times a week, and every time you go, you stop at the mini mart on the way and buy a bottle of Gatorade. Planning ahead and buying in greater volume in those kinds of circumstances will save you significant money over time.

Mistake #2: Choosing convenience over forethought

Building off of that first mistake, neglecting to plan ahead is a very costly habit. We’re all occasionally guilty of paying more for convenience because we just don’t feel like putting in the effort. Long day at work? Forget grocery shopping – let’s get takeout! We know that what we’re doing is splurging, but we mentally write it off as a one-time thing that we earned somehow. But every time we pick the easy way out, we cost ourselves money. The more thoroughly you plan your expenses and stick to that plan the less wasteful you’ll end up being.

Mistake #3: Failing to comparison shop

You probably don’t think of it as such, but we very often fall in love with certain products or services and find ourselves buying the same things over and over. We only revaluate when something drastic happens – the price shoots up, the quality changes significantly, etc. If we really cared about our money, however, we’d make those kinds of evaluations every time. Every purchase is another chance to potentially overspend or to save a little money. Try to train yourself to not take anything for granted. Always keep your eyes open for alternatives.

Mistake #4: Not making saving money a priority

Building your savings should not be optional. It shouldn’t be an if-then proposition, where you only set aside money when the circumstances are just right, because very often the circumstances won’t be just right. You need to make contributions to your savings a mandatory expense item and not an option. It needs to live in the budget and happen regularly. You need to be constantly building your emergency savings and your retirement savings. Does your employer offer matching funds on your 401K? Take advantage of that.

Mistake #5: Forgetting what you already have

Here’s something I’m completely guilty of: buying things you already have. This also ties in with planning (or not planning, as it were). We own things, never use them, forget we have them, and then when we do need them, we waste money on new versions. This also applies to your food budget and the perishables we let go to waste because we forgot we even had them. Slow down your purchasing and really think about what you have, what you need, and what you’re planning to do. Thinking things through rarely hurts when it comes to your money.

Mistake #6: Being reactive instead of proactive

Do you know people who prefer to go to the emergency room rather than make an appointment with their doctor? Those people cost themselves a lot of money by refusing to address their issues before they become catastrophes. Being proactive means being willing to spend smartly to prevent small issues from becoming major issues. It’s about investing in your immediate future. When money is tight, people are less likely to spend proactively, and more likely to ignore the ignorable problems. Fight that instinct.

Mistake #7: Forgetting that everything costs money

Ever fall asleep with the TV on? Ever get lost while driving because you thought you could just figure it out? Ever space out in the shower or come home to an ice cold house because you accidentally set the air conditioning too low? Things like that happen all the time and they don’t seem like much, but they all cost you money. We make a lot of little, spur-of-the-moment choices every day and forget to connect those choices to their cost. It adds up. So if you feel yourself drifting off in front of the TV, remember that by not taking a second to grab the remote and kill the power, you’re making a purchase of a sort. You’re spending money. Just remember that and let that influence your choices.


Anonymous says:
October 20, 2016

Yikes. Panic over falling asleep on the sofa with the TV on, or spending an extra 30 seconds in the shower thinking something over, or driving an extra three miles on a trip? Really? This level of obsession is just sad. Live your life without being hypervigilant about every single penny and you will be so much happier. I pity anyone who flips out over using a dollar's worth of gasoline enjoying the fall foliage.

Dawn Rux says:
October 16, 2014

In our budget we set aside money for one night out a week. That way it is budgeted and we don't feel guilty for that fun splurge once a week. The rest of the week has been menu-planned and we grocery shop according to that menu. We spend far less money when we have a menu set.

elizabeth schommer says:
October 21, 2016

We are eating Paleo now and though I am not pushing that, it basically means I don't buy anything processed or junk food, dingdong type snacks etc. We eat organic if possible and buy good meat on sale. My point is that we still spend a ton of money less then on the purchasing of processed foods and so called convenience foods. Those foods are a budget killer. No soda is also a big saver. My favorite is apple cider vinegar water n honey. Yum also a great way to loose weight. Just for fun take a look at the price on that ready to eat meat vrs a real roast, a few spices n a crock pot.

Emme says:
October 20, 2016

The one about seeing your own doctor is true, emergency visits are so costly. My husband could not get to see his primary, despite my requests. They said to go to ER. Well, we waited in one hospital & after 3 hrs & no one came to get him, we left. We got a $500 for sitting for 3 hrs, I fought that & the canceled the bill. However, even at the 2nd hospital, the doctor was eating his dinner. He told the nurse to give my husband an injection while chewing on his sandwich and billed us $600 just for his observation. The nurse did the injection and prep work. What we should be addressing is the ridiculous costs of emergency rooms and their doctors. I questioned this doctor's fee since he spent at most 30 seconds telling the nurse what to give him. I would like to see MMI give us links to higher bureaus that we can appeal these outrageous medical billings. I hope to see that in the future.

Jim says:
October 15, 2014

Good morning! Of those seven mistakes, I think the biggest one is choosing convenience over forethought. Today's society is so fast-paced, convenience has become the norm, not the exception. It's far easier to get take-out than make time to shop and cook. That boils down to time management, which seems to have gone by the wayside. Slow down, breathe, and think :)

Steve says:
October 20, 2016

While I understand those who decry hyper-vigilance, overall I tend to agree with the article in two ways: 1. Spending should not be a blind habit. It is not the excess here or there that is the problem, but the habit of not realizing that ALL those little expenditures add up to big losses. 2. Not being aware of your spending has many consequences. a. You overspend on trivial matters so you can't buy something big over time, like a new PC; b. Those little expenses that all add up could be used to pay down debt. That's a big one. Steve

Tori says:
October 16, 2014

As a professional organizer, this article hits so many not so obvious but oh so important issues. Thank-You. I will be sharing this information with my clients whether budget challenged or not.

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