In the spirit of Halloween, my first tip is about money goblins. Money goblins are those things that suck money out of your bank account without a deliberate decision on your part. Here are my top goblins:
- Smart phones and tablets: Maybe y’all are smarter than I am and realized this without having to get slapped upside the head with a blinding glimpse of the obvious, but these things can spend money faster than a hoarder at a garage sale. My kids spent $200 on smurf berries. Yep, smurf berries. And I couldn’t even get mad at them, because they had no idea they were spending real money. So for the love of all things southern, if you let your kids play on phones or tablets, turn off in-app purchases. Right. This. Very. Minute.
- Subscriptions you’ve forgotten about: Maybe you signed up for a photo-sharing site back before Facebook and Instagram. Even though you haven’t thought about it in ages, it could still be sucking an annual fee right out of your wallet. Or maybe you signed up for Consumer Reports access when you were making a big purchase and just never canceled. Or maybe you’re still paying for a security subscription on a computer you don’t use anymore. Check your credit card statements for “What the heck is that?” charges, then figure out how to cancel them.
- Library fees: As a mom who has paid over $20 in library fees on more than one occasion, let me be the first to say there’s no excuse for this. Sure, sometimes books get lost, but running up that much money in late fees is just dumb. Have a regular home for library books, and teach your kids to put their books there when they’re not reading them. (Do I get bonus points for using all three forms of “there” correctly in one sentence?)
- Insurance discrepancies: Always, always, always compare your EOB to the bill you get from the doctor. An incorrect code can turn a covered expense into a non-covered expense. And sometimes things just don’t get credited correctly. Medical costs are too high as it is to be forking over money you don’t really owe.
- Coupon orphans: We’ll talk more about coupons another time, but if you take the time to clip coupons you need and then leave them at home, that’s just throwing money away. Buy a small coupon organizer and keep it in your purse. Not only will you have the coupons you need, you might even have a coupon that will make an unexpected deal even sweeter.
Even if you have plenty of money and no financial worries, it’s just silly to spend money you don’t have to. These goblins may not seem like much individually, but taming all of them can make a big difference in your annual expenditures.