I hate it when I see people waste food. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been that way. Another pet peeve of mine is carelessly wasting money on things that can be easily prevented. And 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. With that in mind, I recently did a quick audit to see where some of my biggest leaks currently reside and then evaluated my odds of repairing them.
1. Buying lunch at work
My (lame) excuse: Hey! Every once in awhile I get hungry at work. Besides, who has time to make 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 $20 per week at my workplace cafeteria.
Long term impact: $1000 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% of the time, one day I may want to watch something on one of the other 1746 channels I pay for.
Short term impact: I pay about $40 per month extra for the additional satellite channels I watch 0.4624% of time.
Long term impact: $442 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% of time.
Odds of this actually happening: Frankly, I have a better shot of being propositioned by Jennifer Aniston. 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 up until recently, she still did it the old-fashioned way because she “doesn’t trust computers.”
Short term impact: On average she wrote about 10 checks per month for bills that she could pay online or automatically.
Long term impact: About $70 annually, assuming 60 cents per bill.
The obvious solution: Thankfully, I finally convinced the Honeybee to start “trusting computers.”
Odds of this actually happening: It’s done – despite the long odds I was initially facing.
4. Paying to use the express lane when it’s not really necessary
My (lame) excuse: Even though I’m on the road by 4 a.m., it’s insurance against getting stuck in an unexpected traffic jam down the road.
Short term impact: I “chicken out” and take the express lane in the wee hours of the morning an average of twice per week.
Long term impact: $1000 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.
Odds of this actually happening: A near certainty. After evaluating the long-term impact, I’m already feeling braver. Wait … I changed my mind. I think.
5. My insatiable addiction to iTunes
My (lame) excuse: Why listen to the same 400 songs played on some lame radio station – 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’s not typical.
Long term impact: I expect to spend about $250 annually, give or take $100.
The obvious solution: Limit the monthly growth of my iTunes collection by 80%.
Odds of this actually happening: One chance in three.
6. Not replacing the weather stripping
My (lame) excuse: Look, I live in Los Angeles – not Oslo. 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.
Long term impact: I’m guessing less than $40.
The obvious solution: Get off my butt and weatherstrip my external doors.
Odds of this actually happening: 99%. Isn’t it ironic that the money leak with the lowest financial impact is the one most likely to be fixed?
As you can see, if I’m successful in plugging all of these money leaks I can conceivably end up saving $2802 per year – or more! Unfortunately, the odds are I’ll remain penny foolish, allowing most of these leaks to continue draining the hard-earned money from my wallet.
Well … unless Jennifer Aniston gives me a call.
(This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on 17 April 2017.)
Photo Credit: jronaldlee