Personal Finance

How to Find & Fix Your Budget Leaks

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Drip, drip, drip. If you have leaks in your finances, you could be wasting money and not even realize it. Even if you feel pretty on top of your finances, money could still be slipping away. It’s a good idea to review budgets, payments and financial choices every so often to look for places where this is happening. Here are some common financial drains that may be costing you – and how to plug them.

Bank Fees

Review your bank statement; if it seems that the fees are excessive or hard to understand, it’s a good idea to ask questions. Between account service and maintenance fees as well as overdraft, ATM, foreign transaction and convenience fees, you may be using the wrong service. Setting up direct deposit and reviewing your bill with a bank representative can help save you money. If it is still not adding up, consider researching different account options.

Heating & Cooling Costs

Many Americans pay more than necessary to heat and cool their homes. Using a programmable thermostat (most are under $70) to control your home’s temperature can save considerable money. Even one degree can cut your energy spending. Also, you can set the thermostat to turn off while you are away.

Home Phone

Between cellphones and Internet access, many people don’t use their home phones on a regular basis. Consider saving big by eliminating land-line service; there are many alternatives from Skype or Google Talk to magicJack on your personal computer to offer the comfort of a phone call when needed.

Excess Groceries

Food is, of course, a necessity. It is often considered a fixed cost in our budget. But if you find yourself throwing out food gone bad or your grocery bill is creeping up, you may want to get re-evaluate. Try planning ahead and discussing menu options for the week, then write a shopping list before you get to the store and stick to it best you can.

Insurance Policies

Policyholders tend to renew their insurance policies without getting a new quote, missing out on potential savings. It’s important to compare options for things like life insurance and consider bundling home and auto insurance with a single company to get the best deal possible.

Too Many Trades

Many financial planners and investment advisers make a commission on each trade they make, so they could potentially make trades that are not necessarily in your best interest to earn more. Check what kind of fund you have and how your manager gets paid to make sure you aren’t paying too much. Before working with an investment adviser it’s a good idea to ask whether they work on commission, a fixed fee, an hourly fee or earn a percentage of the value of the assets they manage for you.

Bad Credit

A bad credit score can poke holes in your budget in many ways — bad interest rates on car insurance, credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and so much more. If you want to know where your credit stands, you can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com and get an action plan for help plugging this budget leak.

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