18 Ways Money Slips Through Your Fingers

There are many ways we can unintentionally let money slip through our fingers. By following these guidelines, you can avoid some of the pitfalls and stop wasting money.

by Marianne Giullian
Ways Money Slips Through Fingers photo

There are times in our lives when money slips through our fingers. It may be because we aren’t organized, we procrastinate or we don’t jump on an opportunity before the chance passes.

Here are some ways of wasting money and having it slip through our fingers:

1. Your Employer’s Cafeteria Plan

A cafeteria plan is a program that allows employers to provide employees with various pre-tax benefits. These plans enable you to reduce your taxes by putting money aside to use for specific uses, such as medical or childcare expenses.

Not joining the plan means more money goes to the taxman instead of your account. If you do join the cafeteria plan, make sure to monitor your balance and plan how to use any surplus so you don’t lose more than you save on taxes.

2. Coupons

Have you given up couponing? Couponing remains a simple source of savings, and with digital coupons, easier than ever. It just takes a few minutes of your time to “clip” them, and you never have to worry about forgetting to take them to the store.

You can find digital coupons online on sites such as Coupons.com or some grocery store mobile apps and websites.

3. Rebates

Many stores and companies still offer rebates when you buy their merchandise. Plus, you can now submit most rebates online rather than by mail. Be prompt in submitting rebates, and make sure you include all required documentation, or you may lose the opportunity.

4. Reusable Bags

More and more stores offer financial incentives for bringing in your own bags (up to 25 cents per bag of items purchased). You also help the environment.

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5. Gift Cards

You probably receive a few gift cards each year. Have you ever lost one or just never bothered to use it? This is another way to let money slip through their fingers.

If you receive a gift card you’ll likely never use, re-gift it or see if someone wants to buy it from you, even if for a discount.

6. Lost Items

I once helped a woman move who owned 13 pairs of scissors. She bought a new pair if she couldn’t find them when she needed them.

Having a designated place for things and taking the time to put everything in its place will save you money by eliminating the need to buy doubles.

7. Failure to Plan Ahead

Do you use time and gas making extra trips because of poor planning? Substitute or go without instead of making one more trip to the store.

8. Expired Food

Are you wasting money by not using the food in your cupboards before it expires? Do you have bread or leftovers molding in your fridge?

Clean your fridge regularly each week and have a special shelf for leftovers. For bread, leave out only what you will eat before it molds and freeze the rest. For canned items, write enlarged expiration dates on cans with a sharpie so they are easily visible. Rotate cans and put the ones that expire first in the front. Plan meals around items that need to be used. You aren’t saving money if food ends up being thrown out.

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9. Expense Accounts

Some workplaces give their employees expense accounts that they can use to cover specific expenses rather than paying out of pocket. Be aware of your balance so you don’t lose it at the end of the year.

10. Store Loyalty Cards

Some stores offer loyalty cards that provide members with reduced prices but you won’t save if you forget to use the card.

Always use your card (or give your phone number) to ensure your discounts.

11. Buy the Right Size and Amount

One grocery store had a special going where if you bought five items, you got five dollars off. It was cheaper to buy five than to buy two or three during these sales.

Check to make sure you have the right size and number of items or you won’t get the bargain price.

12. Earn More on Your Money

Are you getting a good interest rate on your savings account? Today, you can get a high-yield savings account at many financial institutions, especially with online banks and credit unions, that has no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees and a considerable interest rate.

13. Tax Refunds

Some people lose money on tax refunds because they are unaware of tax breaks for which they qualify.

If you prepare your own taxes, buy a tax software package each year. It can help you make sure you are getting back what is due.

14. Credit Cards

Some people let money slip through their fingers by not paying their credit card off in full each month. Others don’t send the payment in time and end up paying $25-$40 in late fees.

If you use a credit card, pay the balance in full and on time each month. And if you aren’t using a rewards credit card, you’re leaving money on the table.

15. Clutter

When your home is cluttered, you can easily lose important papers. It is hard to keep on top of things when they are unorganized. Some people rent storage units to get clutter out of sight, but end up paying much more in fees than the stored items are worth.

If you have a storage unit, plan a time to clean it out and stop wasting money on storage fees. If you really like what is in storage, find a way to have it in your home. If you aren’t that fond of the things anyway, get rid of them by selling or donating them.

16. Bank Fees

Keep on top of ATM transactions so you don’t end up paying money to get cash. Don’t let your checking account get overdrawn because you don’t keep track of how much money you actually have. And if your bank charges a monthly maintenance fee, consider moving your money to a fee-free account.

17. Monthly Fees

Do you belong to a health club that you rarely visit? Do you have more streaming subscriptions that you can reasonably watch? Cancel your membership or subscription and stop wasting money.

Check your credit card statement carefully each month for recurring items you might have forgotten about and cancel them. You can always sign up again later if your circumstances change.

18. Update Your Insurance Occasionally

Are you still paying for insurance premiums for married children or on cars that have been sold? Check your insurance policies regularly to see if you need to make some changes.

There are many ways that money can slip through our fingers. By following these guidelines, you can avoid some of the pitfalls and stop wasting money.

Reviewed January 2024

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