NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Stretching Your Budget by Avoiding Expenses

Stretching Your Budget by Avoiding Expenses

 

            You may attempt to save extra penny possible and being a smart consumer when shopping but there is another entire category of spending that can derail a budget – forgotten costs. You might focus on stretching every last dime, but you can sabotage yourself if you rack up costs you could easily avoid. Here are some common expenses that can add up over time:

            Traffic & Parking Tickets – In the rush to work or an event – especially when out of town -  it is easy to drive too fast or to miss a "no parking" sign. Next thing you know, a police officer is writing you a costly ticket or your car is being towed. Besides the fines you're charged, tickets can cause your car insurance rates to rise, raising your expenses long-term.

            Fees to use cash -Whether through overdraft penalties or automatic teller machine fees, banks charge customers in many ways. Avoiding these fees requires people to simply pay more attention.

Leave a small cushion in your bank account to prevent overdrafts. Look for banks that offer free checking and savings accounts or better yet, ones that would pay interest on your balances. And try to avoid ATM fees by anticipating your cash needs in advance so you're not forced to turn to the closest machine if you find yourself in a rush and low on money.

             Late payments -It's easy to forget a bill. But your bad memory or poor organization skills will cost you through late fees and higher interest rates.  Avoid late payments by paying all your bills together on a specific day each month. You can also arrange for your bank to automatically pay your bills as soon as they arrive.

            Forgotten Auto Payments – Wait, didn’t we just suggest having your bank automatically pay bills?  Now why is it a negative?  Many people sign up for memberships and subscriptions that automatically renew each month with the best intentions. In reality, they don't end up using them and they continue to be charged. Review all your memberships and subscriptions and ask yourself if you're using them. If you aren't, it's time to cancel them.

            Negotiation opportunities -While haggling isn't as common in the U.S. as it is in other countries, there are certain situations in which negotiating a price is not only acceptable, it's expected. Buying a car is a good example. Still, some people would rather pay the listed price instead of making a lower offer.

People often qualify for discounts because they're members of clubs like trade organizations or AAA. But they might be too embarrassed to ask about them at the register.  Speak up and save those dollars!

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