Put a Plug in your spending leaks

Imagine coming home from a week-long vacation to find your living room filled with several inches of water.

After frantically cutting off the water supply, you call a plumber to find and fix the issue. The issue, it turns out, stems from a very tiny crack in one of the water lines in your house. How could such a small leak do so much damage? If you had caught the problem sooner, how much damage could you have prevented?

Leaks in your spending habits can wreak havoc on your finances in similar ways to water leaks in your home’s plumbing. Though these minor expenditures can seem insignificant on their own, they can quickly add up to drain your bank account.

The following tips will help finding and plugging spending leaks quick and easy.

Keep your receipts and look for patterns
– Identify the stores, restaurants, and specific purchases that are draining your account balance. Add up the cost of those purchases over the entire month or year to assess the full impact on your bottom line. While visiting the coffee shop three mornings a week doesn’t seem like much, it can add up to a large amount over time. Look for ways to either eliminate the purchases completely or cut back to save costs.

Make a shopping list and stick to it
– Avoid the temptation to add extra items to your shopping cart by making a list before you get to the store. Challenge yourself to only buy items on the list. This strategy keeps you from wandering aimlessly through each aisle and from purchasing more than you need.

Avoid tempting stores and restaurants
– Just say “no” to the stores and restaurants that cause you to spend unnecessary money. If you feel like you lack the will power to stick your list, then try to avoid the store completely. Take advantage of curbside pick-up and delivery services that handle your shopping for you.

Budget what you’ll need and only take cash
– After making your shopping list, determine how much money you will need and take only cash to the store. It is much easier to avoid impulse buys if you know that you don’t have enough money with you to make the purchase.

Remove credit card numbers from online retailers
– Technology has made shopping online easier than ever by allowing you to store credit card information on your favorite retailers’ websites. Just one click and that random must-have item can be on its way to your front door in two short days. Deleting your card information from these websites can help you slow down and think about the purchase before you quickly click the order button. The delay of walking to your wallet, pulling out the card, and entering the number and billing information allows you more time to evaluate your buying decision.

Cancel subscriptions that you no longer use
– If you’ve racked up six credits with your monthly audiobook subscription, have only set foot in the gym on the day you joined, or never take advantage of that streaming video service then cancel the subscription. These recurring charges are easy to forget about because they automatically debit your account each month. Take the five minutes necessary to log-in to your account or call the membership office to make the cancellation.

Putting a stop to leaky spending habits will free up money that can be put toward your financial goals. This may mean making an extra mortgage or car payment to bring down your principle, saving more for retirement, or paying off credit card debt sooner. What will you do with your savings?

MAX Credit Union is a full-service financial institution serving Central and East Alabama, including Montgomery, AL; Auburn, AL; Opelika, AL; Prattville, AL; Wetumpka, AL; and Troy, AL.