How to Plug Your Personal Finance Leaks

by Vincent King · 5 comments

We all have leaks in the hulls of our finances. No one can run an air-tight ship all the time. But some leaks are more damaging than others — and when we plug them, we’ll see our ship rise higher above the surface.

Let’s take a look at these common leaks and how you can plug them once and for all.

1. An outdated thermostat

Running an old thermostat that you play with all day long is costing you more than running an automatic one, which range anywhere from $60-$250. Pay a little extra right now so you’ll stop paying more each month.

It’s also worth noting that if you set your thermostat 10-15 degrees lower while at work, you’ll save 15% on your heating bill. That’s a leak well-plugged!

2. More data or talk time than you need

When you got your new cell phone, you probably stayed with the plan you had without a second thought. You never considered whether you even needed the minutes you were paying for. Our salesperson suggested we downgrade to lower talk minutes, and we saved $15 a month. That’s $180 over the year.

Of course, now Wal-Mart sells phones with unlimited data and text, plus 100 minutes of talk-time. Who needs $150 plans anymore? If you need more than 100 minutes, pair that smartphone with Google Voice and bypass that limit.

3. Preventable home repairs

By neglecting a few important checks each winter, you could wind up paying for unnecessary home repairs. For example, leaving leaves and debris in your gutters clogs them — so when it rains, the water spills off and pools around your home’s foundation and leaks in. Frozen water in gutters can cause snow and ice to push under your shingles, creating roof leaks and damage. Keep those gutters clean.

4. Water hoses

Hoses that have water left in them for the winter can cause pipes to burst, which is a plumbing nightmare. To prevent this, all you have to do is empty your hose and disconnect it for the cold months.

5. Automatic policy renewals

As with cell phones, insurance policies are often neglected and renewed without considering what else is out there. Take the time to look at other options and see who offers promotions or better rates. You could save up to $170 per year by forcing yourself to shop around.

6. Home security

After the first few years of service, your monthly fees have usually paid for your home security equipment. If this is the case, you can have your monthly fee reduced — but only by asking. Check over your contract and call your company to find out if you qualify for the monitoring-only fee.

7. Overdraft protection

Some banks charge you between $10-30/month to take money from one of your accounts to cover another. If you’re paying that fee, consider getting a free app that lets you keep track of your balance in real time. Mint Quickview lets you easily see how your account’s doing so you can avoid overdrafts altogether. Even if you go over once, you’ll pay less in fees than you would with monthly “protective” charges.

8. Your 401K

Some people don’t take advantage of employer contributions to their 401K. If your company is giving you money, why wouldn’t you invest it? The amount of money coming out of your pocket each month won’t be enough to send you to the poorhouse — plus when you retire, you’ll have double the money you put in. Free cash! Don’t let it leak from your financial ship.

9. Snail mail

That’s right. You can save $90 per year in stamps by paying your bills online. The average household gets 15 bills a month. Multiply that by the upcoming price of $0.49 per stamp, and going paperless seems pretty sweet.

Plug your personal finance leaks and start putting that money back in your wallet.

What’s the last financial leak that you plugged?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans says:

    I wish my City would just embrace online statements and bill pay. They waste so much paper and postage!

  • Levi Blackman says:

    Overdrafts are the devil! I set up my accounts to decline any overdraft. I would rather suffer the embarrassment of being declined at checkout than pay a huge fee.

  • property marbella says:

    A well-kept house you look after will save you a lot of repair money. Paying bills on time or even ahead of time (over the internet) does a lot more than a year in saved late fees.

  • Bill says:

    The idea of setting your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower when you aren’t home works fine unless you are on a heat pump. When you ask a heat pump to bring the temperature up more than a couple of degrees, you will more than likely kick in your auxiliary heat, which is usually electric resistance heat. You will pay roughly four times more for resistance heat than for heat pump heat. If you are going to be gone for several days or more, it makes sense to set the thermostat back, even on a heat pump.

  • MITMBlog says:

    Great post!
    The water hose one got me last year and I just disconnected mine this weekend so it wouldn’t happen again. So that was the latest leak I plugged.

    But the best one of all time is the snail mail one. About 3 years ago we started using bill pay which is free with our checking account and it has been great!

    Thanks for the post! Keep it up.

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