As we get older and more set in our ways and daily routines especially with a family, there is a tendency to live within a zone of comfort that could ultimately be costing you a lot of money. Like budgeting, your financial life is a living, breathing element of your life that needs to be updated and refreshed on an ongoing basis.
Here are just some of the ‘living comfortable’ money leaks you may be overlooking in your household:
You may have had the same bank accounts for years and be proud of your loyalty. Perhaps you use the same bank for so long because it is convenient. Whatever your reasoning for sticking with the same financial institution is, you might want to do some investigating to ensure you are getting the best deal. Compare two or three other bank’s terms and incentives against yours. Pay special attention to the fees being charged for the services you use most. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars in a year by transferring your banking services to a new company. Consider online accounts where the perks are particularly competitive. You may also want to check in regularly with your current bank to see how competitive they agree to be.
Many people go to one store for the same brands of products time and time again. However, by not branching out you can be spending hundreds –even thousands –more than you think. There is a significant increase in the popularity of discount grocery stores and the amount of money you can save over time on non-brand named products can be large. Keep your eye out for fliers from markets and stores you don’t normally visit and plan to do some test shopping. Try selecting items you haven’t tried before to incorporate some less-pricey food options into your life. You can always stick with some of the routine items you get from your regular store but venture out from time to time to see what else is out there.
Similar to the comfort zone you may have with your bank, it may be time to look over your current credit card benefits compared to newer cards on the market. Credit card providers have been streamlining their services to cut down on the risk but there are still many new perks being offered to keep companies competitive. You may have a rewards card from 10 years ago still earning airline miles you never use. Look into getting a cash-back credit card or one where the reward benefits actually fit your lifestyle. A key thing to remember here though is never close the old credit card accounts. Doing so can hurt your length of credit history which can drop your credit score.
You may have been working the same numbers month after month for years but there are many more resources available now to help you increase the efficiency of your budget. A free online budget calculator and other personal finance software can be instrumental in adding perspective to your financial goals. There may be new ways for you to save more money and reach financial goals more efficiently that you are missing out on. Sure it can be good to stick with what has been working but it also doesn’t hurt to step out of the box and see what other tools are now available (especially for free) that can help you better manage your money.
There are many other areas of our lives where our comfort zones prevent growth and money-saving opportunities. Take the time to regularly review how you manage your money, where you are spending, and how better your income can be spent. When it comes to money, a little change can go a long way.
Debbie Dragon is a professional freelance writer, specializing in personal finance. She frequently writes for Vertex42.com which offers a large selection of free spreadsheet templates and financial calculators.