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Why You’re Always Broke
I spent last weekend in Florida, jumping out of airplanes. When I had some downtime (no pun intended,) I was doing some quick homework as to my expenses last year. I came up with ten reasons we waste money, and how to prevent them. A ton of them I’d already been doing, but I thought of a few new ones, as well. Hope they help you, too.
Why you’re always broke:
10) You’re broke because you mistakenly believe that coffee served by a person in a green apron tastes better than coffee you make yourself at home. $4 a day, $20 a week, $80 a month, $960 a year on the cup of coffee you get at Starbucks. Buy a good coffee machine. Even if it costs you $300, plus $100 in beans for the year, you’re looking at a savings of $560 if you make coffee at home and take it with you in a reusable mug.
9) You’re broke because you take cabs to or from the airport, or park at the airport. I get it, if you live in a place with no transportation system. But for everyone else, this is a needless expense. NYC, DC, Boston, San Francisco, and San Francisco are just a few of the places where the transit system is more than good enough to get you to and from the airport. NYC: $15 for the AirTrain to Newark, $2.50 from midtown to LaGuardia, $7.50 to JFK, vs. a minimum of $35 for a cab, average rate $50-70. EACH WAY. Don’t even get me started on parking costs. Use mass transit, not only for airports, but for the majority of your travel.
8) You’re broke because you prefer Seamless.com to FreshDirect.com, EVERY WEEK. In other words, you prefer to order in than to cook. I get it. Cooking is hard. BUT… Cooking just four hours on a Sunday can give you enough meals for the week. Cook half a dozen skinless chicken breasts on a Sunday, keep them in the fridge. On Monday, add a sauteed onion and nuke some spinach. Tuesday, add a small serving of pasta, and a vegetable. Wednesday, unfreeze some frozen pre-cooked shrimp, with a vegetable. Thursday, chicken with hot sauce and rice. Friday, go out. There. One meal out vs. five. Money saved – A lot, or REALLY a lot, depending on where you live.
7) You’re broke because you waste time talking on your mobile phone. The way I see it, we learned to use the mobile phone backwards. We should have started out sending texts, then learned to talk on it. Because we did it the other way, we spend way too much time talking about crap we could totally avoid if we were limited to 160 characters. If you have a low monthly minute plan, you should use your phone for emergencies and when you absolutely can’t text. (When you’re driving, for example.) If you put texting before talking, chances are, you can drop your minutes even more, lowering your bill that much more each month.
6) You might be broke because you still have a land-line. If you work somewhere other than your home, and you still have a land-line, do you have a reason for it? The only reason to still have one is in case of a massive catastrophe, when all the electricity goes out – chances are, your corded phone will still work. But other than that, you could be saving $40, $50, or even more by simply losing the land-line.
5) You’re broke because like your mother probably used to say, you actually DO think you live in a barn. When you leave, are you turning off all your lights? What about your TV? Muting it doesn’t count. Do you shut off your desktop monitor? Screen savers don’t save you that much. Shut off the monitor, if not the entire computer. Electricity doesn’t have to be as expensive as it is. Heat and AC? Same thing. Put on a sweater, or get a thinner comforter for your bed. You’d be AMAZED how much lowering the heat and AC can save you over the course of a year.
4) You’re broke because you wear one outfit, then dry-clean it. Hang a blazer on a hanger, and put it out your window for an hour. Brand new. Buy a lint-roller (all cat owners know this trick) and your blouse is ready for another day. Jeans? I wear them till they can walk on their own. I’m not saying don’t stay clean and neat, but on the same note, the only things that should be washed after each use are socks , underwear, and gym clothes.
3) You’re broke because you prefer a treadmill to that amazing thing called “The outdoors.” Take a run outside. Drop halfway through for pushups. Want more? Do them with your feet on a bench. Last tenth of a mile of the run? Squat to the finish line. Then do some sit-ups on the grass. Boom – $60-150 a month saved.
2) You’re broke because you don’t know your credit score, and aren’t negotiating lower rates. Go to annualcreditreport.com – (The only free one) and download your credit report. Got a good one? Call your credit card companies and ask for a lower rate. Bet you get it. But don’t close your accounts if you pay them off – That can actually hurt your credit report. Keep a hundred bucks on the card, and you’ll always get good interest rates, and make your score even better.
1) The number one reason you’re broke? You just assume fees “have to be.” Guess what – They don’t! Keep $100 in a TD Bank account, and all fees are GONE, including ATM fees for other ATMs. Negotiate EVERYTHING. ASK what the fees are when you rent a car, and ask to have some of them removed. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And trust me – You CAN get. Ask your utility provider how to lower your monthly bill. Ask your cell phone provider if you’re actually using all your minutes, and if not, drop down. Ask. Trust me. You CAN get.
What am I missing? Tell me your best tips below – The top ones get a prize.