I hate it when I see people waste food.
I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been that way.Â Somebody who believes in reincarnation once told me that I probably starved to death in a past life.Â Okay.
Another pet peeve of mine is carelessly wasting money on things that can be easily prevented.Â Although I haven’t shared that little characteristic of mine with the reincarnationist, I wonder what she’d say.Â Then again, on second thought, I don’t really care.
While I am very diligent about not wasting food, I still have a lot of work to do when it gets down to plugging all of my money leaks.
I recently did a quick audit to see where some of my biggest leaks currently reside and then evaluated my odds of repairing them.Â When you’re done checking them out, let me know if: 1) you suffer from some of the same money leaks that I do; and 2) if you have a few others currently plaguing you that I didn’t list.Â Thanks.
1. Buying lunch at work.
My (lame) excuse: Hey!Â Every once in awhile I get hungry at work.Â Besides, who has time to make and pack their own lunch?
Short term impact: A grilled cheese sandwich here, a bag of chips and a cookie there – add it all up and I’m currently averaging about $10 per week at my workplace cafeteria.
Long term impact: $500 annually, assuming my appetite doesn’t get bigger between now and then.
The obvious solution: Pack my own lunch the night before.
Odds of this actually happening: 50/50
2. Over-paying for our satellite television service.
My (lame) excuse: Although I watch the same 25 channels 99.5376 percent of the time, one day I may want to watch something on one of the other 1,746 channels I’m paying for.
Short term impact: I pay about $20 per month extra for the additional satellite channels I watch 0.4624 percent of time.
Long term impact: $240 annually.
The obvious solution: Dump the extra channels and resign myself to the fact that I will miss a show I really really really want to watch 0.4624 percent of time.
Odds of this actually happening: Although this one is a no-brainer, the answer is slim and none.Â This is yet more proof that people make irrational decisions about money all the time.
3. Paying almost all of our bills by snail mail instead of the Internet.
My (lame) excuse: As the household CFO the Honeybee pays the bills, and she insists on paying them the old-fashioned way because she “doesn’t trust computers.”Â (Don’t say it.Â I know.)
Short term impact: On average she writes about 10 checks per month for bills that she could pay online or automatically.
Long term impact: $60 annually, assuming 50 cents per bill (for the price of the stamp, envelope, and check).
The obvious solution: Well, short of finding a second wife – which I still believe is illegal in most states – somehow convince the Honeybee to start “trusting computers” and pay our bills online.
Odds of this actually happening: I stand a better chance of being hired as a back-up singer and off-stage cabana boy for Lady Gaga on her next world tour.
4. Paying to use the express lane when it’s not really necessary.
My (lame) excuse: Even though I am on the road by 5 am when traffic is still relatively light, it’s insurance against getting stuck in an unexpected traffic jam down the road.
Short term impact: Over the past two months, I have “chickened out” and taken the express lane in the wee hours of the morning an average of twice per week.
Long term impact: $402 annually, assuming the toll road rates don’t go up – which they will.
The obvious solution: Look fear in the eye and bypass the express lanes at 5 in the morning.
Odds of this actually happening: A near certainty.Â After evaluating the long-term impact, I’m already feeling braver.Â Wait; I changed my mind.
5. My insatiable addiction to iTunes.
My (lame) excuse: Why listen to some lame radio station with a puny play list of 400 songs – half of which I don’t like – when I can listen to my own personal music library?
Short term impact: Last month I spent almost $100 – although that is not typical.
Long term impact: I expect to spend about $500 annually, give or take $100.Â Okay, okay.Â Give $100.
The obvious solution: Limit the monthly growth of my iTunes collection by 80 percent.
Odds of this actually happening: One chance in three.Â My intentions are good here so I will try my best, but this is easier said than done.
6. Not replacing the weather stripping on my front and back doors.
My (lame) excuse: Look, I live in Los Angeles – not Moscow.Â How much energy can I really be wasting?
Short term impact: I’m not sure, but the US Department of Energy says weatherstripping pays for itself within one year via reduced energy costs.
Long term impact: Based upon the data from the Department of Energy, I’m guessing less than $20.
The obvious solution: Get off my butt and weatherstrip my external doors.
Odds of this actually happening: 99 percent.Â I know.Â It’s ironic that the money leak with the lowest financial impact will be the one most likely to be fixed.
As you can see, if I am successful in plugging all of these money leaks I could conceivably end up saving $1702 per year – or more!Â Unfortunately, the odds are I will continue to be penny foolish and let most of these leaks just keep on draining the hard-earned money from my wallet.
Well, that is unless Lady Gaga happens to come a calling.