7 Things You’re Wasting Money On

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by Kelli B. Grant

Friday, March 20, 2009provided by SmartMoney.com

Posted at Yahoo!


(It’s never wrong to get a sound advice from people who offered them. Bottom line is that

one should always be open to view and weigh what’s best for him at the moment.

Here are sound tips from a post at Yahoo, provided by SmartMoney.com.)

These days, keeping your budget in line isn’t measured by the amount you spend,

but by how much you save.

Before you blame your daily jaunt to Starbucks or weekly trip to the movies for breaking your budget,

take a good hard look at how much you’re paying for less obvious but much more expensive

money wasters like overdraft fees and auto insurance.

Cut back on these seven items and you could save roughly $1,000 a year.


1) Bottled Water

Getting your recommended eight glasses of water a day by bottle instead of tap is a huge waste of cash,

says Phil Lempert, founder of Supermarket Guru. That buck-a-bottle water you down on a regular basis

can really add up.

(Even more so now that cities like Chicago collect an additional tax of five cents per bottle.)

Potential Savings: Spend $37 to buy a 40-ounce Brita pitcher and filter

($13 at Bed, Bath and Beyond), plus a four-pack of replacement filters ($24),

and you’ll be able to filter 200 gallons of water. Buy that much water in 24-packs of 16.9-ounce

Aquafina bottles at Shop Rite instead, and you’d spend $283.50. Your total savings: $246.50.


2) Extended Warranties

Think twice before you shell out $10 a month for a two-year protection plan on your pricey

new BlackBerry. New products tend to malfunction within the manufacturer’s initial warranty period,

or well after any extended warranty has expired, says Michael Gartenberg, vice president of strategy

and analysis for Interpret LLC, a market researcher. (Most extended warranties exclude accidental damage,

too, so you’d still be out of luck if you drop that Blackberry and crack the screen.)

To protect yourself, pay with the right credit card. Many credit cards — including most American Express

and MasterCard cards — double the manufacturer’s warranty on purchases, adding up to another year of

free protection.

Potential Savings: Someone buying a 40-inch Samsung flat panel high-def television at Best Buy

for $800 has the option to add a four-year protection plan for another $150.

Skip it, and pocket the cash instead. (The set already has a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.)


3) Gym Memberships

The cost of a gym membership can really rack up over the course of a year

(an average of $775, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association).

So make sure you’re tapping into all of the discounts available to you.

Check with your employer, health insurer and other membership groups like your union or alma mater

to see if they offer discounts on gym and fitness club memberships, says Bob Nelson,

president of Nelson Motivation, a benefits consulting firm.

Potential Savings: On your own, you’d pay $54.99 per month, plus a $49 enrollment fee,

for a national access plan at Bally’s Total Fitness. Through discounter GlobalFit.com,

which offers special rates for members of partner companies, you’d pay $37.80 per month plus a

$29 enrollment fee for the same Bally’s membership. Over a yearlong membership, that’s $226.28 saved.


4) Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees can run as high as $35 apiece and banks have a host of sneaky tricks that can cause

even the most diligent consumer to overdraw on an account. For example, they may approve debit purchases

that would put you in the red, or re-order transactions so that the biggest purchases go through

first — and deposits get processed last. To protect yourself, sign up for overdraft protection,

which can cost as little as $5 to $10 a year (and is often free with high-level checking accounts),

and can save you hundreds of dollars.

Potential Savings: Pay $5 annually for a connected line of credit at Citibank.

It kicks in only when you overspend, helping you to avoid the $30 fee per overdraft.

Mess up just four times within a year and you’ve saved $115.


5) Organic Produce

Sure, buying organic makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing, but it isn’t always the

best choice for your wallet. Fruits and vegetables like kiwis, sweet corn and broccoli require

very little pesticide to grow. Others — like avocados, onions and pineapples — have thick or

peelable skins that reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.

“Any pesticide that remains is not getting through,” says Lempert.

For a handy reminder as you shop, download the Environmental Working Group’s wallet-sized organic

produce guide.

Potential Savings: Organic broccoli costs $2.99 per pound at online grocer FreshDirect,

which also offers conventional broccoli for $1.49. A pound of navel oranges is $4 for the

organic and $2 for conventional. Someone buying a pound of each item weekly could save $182

over the course of a year.


6) Auto Insurance

“[Auto insurers] often give discounts for consumers who don’t drive long distances,”

says Sam Belden, a spokesman for Insurance.com. If your driving habits have changed in recent months

— say, you’ve switched jobs or cut out pricey trips to the mall – call your insurer to ask if you

now qualify for a better rate.

Potential Savings: A driver who cuts back to fewer than 7,500 miles a year could save

5% to 15% off his premiums, depending on his insurer. Considering that the average driver shells out

$817 a year on auto insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute,

that saves $40.85 to $122.55.


7) Music Downloads

For the longest time, Apple iPod and iPhone owners were stuck downloading their music from iTunes,

while consumers with other MP3 players couldn’t put the service’s content on their devices.

But now, most online music purveyors (including Apple as of March) offer content in a DRM-free format

— meaning you can listen to it on any MP3 player. That frees iTunes users to pursue cheaper music

from sites like Wal-Mart and Amazon.com. Music fans with other MP3 players may benefit from Apple

going DRM-free, too. The company plans to revamp its fees in April, charging 69 cents to $1.29 per

song instead of the current flat fee of 99 cents. Bottom line: Check prices on several sites before

you download.

Potential Savings: “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry costs 99 cents at iTunes, but just 74 cents at Wal-Mart

and 79 cents at Amazon.com. Someone buying a song a week could save $10.40 to $13 annually by

shopping around.


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