INDIANAPOLIS – Family budgets amount to tens of thousands of dollars a year if not more. But many of the things we spend on don’t make it into the budget because they are unplanned. More than 80% of Americans actually waste more than $2,000 yearly. We have several unexpected ways people are wasting money and fixes to prevent it.
Let’s start with electronics. If you leave everything in your house plugged in throughout the day, according to the Department of Defense, your energy bill goes up 10% for an average home. That can mean hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. You can slash that by unplugging gadgets like mobile charges, and small appliances when not in use. One easy solution is to use power strips that you plug several things into.
“I get it, that can be a hassle. So use a power strip especially for that home office or entertainment system. And then when you actually switch that power strip off, it cuts off the energy completely,” said money saving expert, Andrea Woroch. “Some power strips come with remote controls to make it really easy and hassle free. You can also use wi-fi enabled power strips as they can be turned on and off with your phone, or set for specific times.”
One thing you can’t turn off is your fridge because food will spoil. With that in mind, the average American family of four throws away $1,600 of spoiled food per year simply because they don’t use it in time. You can cut waste by meal planning and running an audit for your fridge and pantry. Sites like Cooklist make it easy and help you find recipes for the food you already have.
Comparing insurance plans annually
Another big money waster is simply not shopping around. That includes shopping for insurance every year. You can opt to switch insurance carriers at any time. That can save you hundreds of dollars a year or more. Use comparison sites like TheZebra.com. You can also use compare and save on your car insurance and your homeowners insurance, which Woroch admits even she didn’t catch.
“Last year, I noticed that my homeowners insurance jumped by a thousand dollars. And when I looked back to the previous three years before that, it was going up by smaller amounts and I completely overlooked it. But I researched insurance companies and am now saving $1,100 a year,” said Woroch.
Credit card rewards
Did you know, 31% of credit card holders have never redeemed their rewards? Don’t lose out. Make sure you check those reward points on your cards or accounts. Often those points will expire. Also, shop around for cash back cards. To do that, you can use sites like Moneyrates to compare. You can also organize all your loyalty program in one place with a variety of Apps including Stocard to make it easier to manage. Some cards have additional perks as well.
“You might get a free sign up bonus such as $200 cash back if you spend a certain amount of money within the first three months. And if you’re planning a big ticket purchase, it’s an easy way to earn something back and then pay off that purchase,” Woroch said.
Just make sure to read each card’s fine print for interest rates and late fees. Sometimes those can be really high. Also be sure to check out a variety of the banks and their fees with on-line tools like MoneyRates.
Something else that can be really high priced is your subscriptions. A survey from Waterstone Management Group found 84% of Americans grossly underestimate their monthly tech spending. That includes subscriptions for Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, I-Cloud, Fitbit, and the list goes on. But sites like Trim will help you identify all the subscriptions and memberships you’re signed up for and even cancel the ones you don’t use or need.