Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
LeftCoastIV
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed May 01, 2019 7:19 pm

Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by LeftCoastIV » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:24 pm

What minor financial "leaks" do people have on their list? Basically, easy things that we can all do that help save more money.

Note that this is a different list than giving up things you enjoy because you are trying to save money. These are things that really don't impact your quality of life, but are just costing you more money, or leaving money on the table for no good reason.

Starting list:
* Not letting too much money sit in checking accounts. At least get it into a 2%+ savings account
* Ensuring full company match on all retirement or health savings programs
* Take advantage of all company perks (in my case, health club subsidy, cell phone reimbursement)
* Identifying recurring charges (Hulu, Netflix, Apple Music, credit monitoring, etc) and making sure we are actually enjoying or need the service
* Periodically check on insurance rates, to see if I am being overcharged
* Periodically shop for the best credit cards rewards programs
* Scheduling thermostats in the house
* Don't forget to use the stored value cards that are sitting in my car that I forget to bring into the store with me (Home Depot, etc)
* Put bill payments on auto-pay to avoid missing payments and being hit with late fees
* Experiment with shorter dishwasher or washing machine cycles

What does everyone else do?

HomeStretch
Posts: 518
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by HomeStretch » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:43 pm

1. In my state we can select electric generation supplier. I check the state site comparing plans to obtain the lowest rate.
2. Perform regular maintenance on autos, lawn mower, appliances, etc. to minimize more costly repairs.
3. Keep grocery costs down by using coupons, minimizing waste, shopping sales.
4. DIY where practical to avoid outsourcing.
5. Buy MasterCard/Visa gift cards during grocery store promos using rewards credit cards. Use gift cards to receive 10%+ off (when factoring in credit card rewards and promo value) insurance and other vendor payments.

sport
Posts: 8067
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by sport » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:56 pm

We have found that our Costco membership saves us a lot of money. Some items are too large for us to use, so we do not buy those. There are enough others to make our Executive Membership worthwhile for our family of two. The rebates exceed the cost of membership.

JBTX
Posts: 5087
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by JBTX » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:13 pm

LeftCoastIV wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:24 pm
What minor financial "leaks" do people have on their list? Basically, easy things that we can all do that help save more money.

Note that this is a different list than giving up things you enjoy because you are trying to save money. These are things that really don't impact your quality of life, but are just costing you more money, or leaving money on the table for no good reason.

Starting list:
* Not letting too much money sit in checking accounts. At least get it into a 2%+ savings account
* Ensuring full company match on all retirement or health savings programs
* Take advantage of all company perks (in my case, health club subsidy, cell phone reimbursement)
* Identifying recurring charges (Hulu, Netflix, Apple Music, credit monitoring, etc) and making sure we are actually enjoying or need the service
* Periodically check on insurance rates, to see if I am being overcharged
* Periodically shop for the best credit cards rewards programs
* Scheduling thermostats in the house
* Don't forget to use the stored value cards that are sitting in my car that I forget to bring into the store with me (Home Depot, etc)
* Put bill payments on auto-pay to avoid missing payments and being hit with late fees
* Experiment with shorter dishwasher or washing machine cycles

What does everyone else do?
I would guess most popular people do most of those things except maybe auto pay because some fear party will make a mistake and withdraw a massive amount (I do autopay extensively and have never had a problem)

The one thing I don't do religiously above is optimize cash. We tend to have 2-3 months worth of expenses in checking accounts. So there is probably several hundred dollars a year interest leakage but it is more than offset by multiple credit cards gaming up front bonuses and ongoing rewards.

User avatar
happysteward
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:42 am

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by happysteward » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:47 pm

I have been working on reducing expenses in my retirement portfolio
"How much money is enough?", John Rockefeller responded, "...just a little bit more."

User avatar
CyclingDuo
Posts: 2312
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:07 am

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by CyclingDuo » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:01 am

LeftCoastIV wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:24 pm
What minor financial "leaks" do people have on their list? Basically, easy things that we can all do that help save more money.

Note that this is a different list than giving up things you enjoy because you are trying to save money. These are things that really don't impact your quality of life, but are just costing you more money, or leaving money on the table for no good reason.

Starting list:
* Not letting too much money sit in checking accounts. At least get it into a 2%+ savings account
* Ensuring full company match on all retirement or health savings programs
* Take advantage of all company perks (in my case, health club subsidy, cell phone reimbursement)
* Identifying recurring charges (Hulu, Netflix, Apple Music, credit monitoring, etc) and making sure we are actually enjoying or need the service
* Periodically check on insurance rates, to see if I am being overcharged
* Periodically shop for the best credit cards rewards programs
* Scheduling thermostats in the house
* Don't forget to use the stored value cards that are sitting in my car that I forget to bring into the store with me (Home Depot, etc)
* Put bill payments on auto-pay to avoid missing payments and being hit with late fees
* Experiment with shorter dishwasher or washing machine cycles

What does everyone else do?
• Drive the speed limit to save on gas and avoid any speeding violations.
• Always make sure I have parked legally to avoid any parking violations.
• Pay all bills on time to avoid any late fees.
• DIY as much home maintenance/repairs as feasible (tons of how to videos available for everything under the sun).
• Use my rewards points from the grocery store at their pumps to get discount on gas.
• Never use a lower quality soap than Cascade Platinum to keep the dishwasher clean and in tip top shape.
• Pack my lunch to take to work (saves about $8-14 per day).
• Do all of my own bike maintenance.
• Take advantage of all benefits and perks at work (includes free cloud storage, cell service discount, password protection, etc...)
• Allow neighbor to sharpen my mower blade since he offers and enjoys doing it.
• Eat all leftovers, shop more frequently via smaller quantities to keep less in the fridge to avoid food spoiling/waste.
• Use of our own home gym has saved us on paying any gym fees for 25+ years.
• Shop for discount bulk purchases for non perishables (only items that we know we use and will use).
• Do our own yard work, dog walking, gardening, and snow removal.
• Be neighborly when it comes to helping each other out as this can lead to saving money (loan each other tools/equipment, feed or look after each other's pets if your neighbor goes on a short duration trip, lend a hand if needed on a repair, share produce from your garden with others, etc...).

There are probably more, but I need a cup of coffee to fire up the brain activity....
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time." ~ Steven Wright

MotoTrojan
Posts: 4549
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by MotoTrojan » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:04 am

I eliminated #1 with a Fidelity CMA/Brokerage duo.

Dottie57
Posts: 6178
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by Dottie57 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:01 am

I don’t go shopping often. Sewing machine to change clothes as body shape changes.

miamivice
Posts: 1722
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by miamivice » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:10 am

The #1 thing that I do is review expenses on an annual basis to see what reductions can be found. Examples:

- We moved grocery shopping from the Kroger chain to the Wal-Mart chain, resulting in a decrease of approximately $1000 per year for the exact same items

- I annually negotiate the internet bill from the internet provider. Depending on my negotiation skill, this has resulted in a savings of about $250 per year.

- I look for cheaper or better alternatives for other recurring charges to see where else we can cut expenses.

megabad
Posts: 1768
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:00 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by megabad » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:21 pm

Basically, the biggest of the minor things in my life have been:

1) shopping mortgage/refinance. I count this as leakage, because it takes 5 minutes and doesn't impact your life at all and could save you hundreds of dollars per month for 30 years plus.

2) shopping insurance. I didn't realize there was a "loyalty penalty" for home and auto insurance for many years. Shopping this allowed the exact same coverage for 30% less cost. Even the AM best rating was better...

3) Internet/TV/phone bundles. I didn't realize these bundles were the biggest waste of money in our area. I can get all the same channels I watch via streaming services, separate internet, and separate phone for 25-75% less unbundled (depending on whether the intro rate is up).

4) Cell phones. Most ridiculous drain in my life. I once was paying $60+/line. I switched to another provider that used the EXACT SAME TOWERS and saved 70%. I suspect at least 50% of Americans are paying double what they should be for phone service. You can have literally the exact same coverage for much less.

For the average family in my area, I would say the above would save maybe $5,000 a year. That is a heck of a lot of "leakage".

miamivice
Posts: 1722
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by miamivice » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:31 pm

One thing I did was NOT get a landline phone. They cost about $45/month in my area. I went with Vonage which started out cheap but ended up at $25/month. Then I switched to MagicJack where it costs $2.50/month.

YoungBogle
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:04 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by YoungBogle » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:38 pm

Buy your own modem, don’t pay $12 to rent from ISP

HawkeyePierce
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:29 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:50 pm

My biggest fix is keeping a strict budget using You Need A Budget. This has helped me identify where I'm wasting money to no purpose.

Others:

* Generic allergy medicine. I save hundreds a year buying generic Claritin instead of the name-brand stuff.

* Biking or taking the bus to work. I only live a few miles from the office and I very rarely drive. Maybe 3-5 times a year. This saves on gas, keeps miles off my car and parking a bike is free.

* Cutting the cord. I don't have a landline or a TV subscription.

* Entertaining friends at home instead of going out. I bought a copy of the book "12 Bottle Bar" and learned how to make top-shelf margaritas, manhattans and other drinks. Rather than spending a fortune at bars with friends, I have people over and we enjoy hanging out for much less money. I also have a few taco recipes I can whip up in an instant pot in about 20 minutes. Quick street-style tacos are the perfect drinking food IMO.

zztr87
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun May 08, 2016 11:01 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by zztr87 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:30 pm

Good thought-provoking thread. Over the years, we've had tons of financial leaks, many of which came about due to the bad habit of procrastinating and then forgetting. For example:
- Fees, fees, fees (The $925 property tax late fee still hurts)
- Delayed maintenance of all kinds (That $450 water bill for a leaky sprinkler I didn't catch on time)

But there's also:
- Eating out just because of laziness (Habitual spending on restaurant food that isn't even as good as what we could cook ourselves)
- Impulse buying that invariably ends up in Goodwill donation bags (mostly a DD/DW thing that they recognize and are working on).

But as a family, we've working on it ... being proactive, planning way ahead, and doing periodic checkups of all-things-important (finances/health/home/applicances/etc.)

Quirkz
Posts: 122
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:32 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by Quirkz » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:39 pm

JBTX wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:13 pm

* Put bill payments on auto-pay to avoid missing payments and being hit with late fees
I would guess most popular people do most of those things except maybe auto pay because some fear party will make a mistake and withdraw a massive amount (I do autopay extensively and have never had a problem)
Yep. My policy is "watch vendors like a hawk" because billing irregularities show up too frequently. I'd say half or more of the companies I've done business with over the decades have messed up at least one bill. Or it's something like electric which fluctuates enough month-to-month I need to pay attention. There are a very few that are small, regular, and trustworthy enough that I just let auto-pay run for me.

Sure, it's possible to both auto-pay and also watch the bills carefully, but I find it's a lot harder to get mistaken money back out of the machine than it is to catch and fix before paying.

Recent examples include:
- phone company double billed me one month
- propane company forgot I was on a contract and started billing the default rate, about 2x higher
- trash company just didn't take enough out one month, causing me to underpay by $1, triggering $5 late fees. Each subsequent month the new bill came out for regular service and autopay kept paying that (the only part of the documentation I saw), but in the back end after 6 months of late fees they just discontinued service. I do not even know how this was possible, and they don't either, but this is the kind of thing that makes me wary of auto-pay.

I've heard other horror stories of credit card due dates getting shifted, so that the regular payment is suddenly late, or mortgages paid too early, so that they were applied to principle and not the next month's payment, and then a double payment was requested. "Special discounts for life" expire after 2 years. Flat fees turn into bill-by-consumption. They accidentally took way too much, and they will eventually refund it, but in the meantime your bank account is short hundreds of dollars. And on and on.

User avatar
tuningfork
Posts: 446
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:30 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by tuningfork » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:49 pm

CyclingDuo wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:01 am
• Always make sure I have parked legally to avoid any parking violations.
In my town: know where the free parking spots are and how long you may park for free. If you're willing to park 2 extra blocks away from the downtown area, and you'll be back in 3 hours (or 2, depending on the zone), you can avoid the couple dollars per hour close-in parking.

Bonus: parking farther away means getting a bit more exercise by walking farther. I tend to park about 10 blocks away from my usual coffee shop. When I need to pick up something at the post office, I park 8 blocks away. Saves parking fees and gets the heart pumping just a little bit more.

cherijoh
Posts: 5742
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by cherijoh » Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:50 pm

LeftCoastIV wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:24 pm
What does everyone else do?

Here are my additions:
  • My preferred grocery store offers a 5% senior discount (60+) on Thursdays for which I am now eligible so I've switched my weekly shopping day to Thursday
  • I recently discovered that the same store will match competitor's "$X off if you spend $Y" - I've got $10 off for spending $40 and $5 off for spending $30
  • I also have started to load electronic coupons onto my grocery loyalty card before doing my shopping - many times these coupons correspond to a sale already available to customers enrolled in the loyalty program. This morning I turned $2 off into $3 off; $0.70 off into $1.45 off, $2.00 into $4 off and $3 off into $4 off
  • Keep a list of errands that need to be run and plan out the route to do them in the most efficient manner to save time/gas and avoid peak traffic times (now that I'm retired)

nguy44
Posts: 144
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:52 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by nguy44 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:35 pm

Good suggestions here, many of which we have used. Just a few more:
- To avoid overdraft fees, we disciplined ourselves to keep a "buffer" of $1000 in our checking account and pretend it is not there. So we treat our balance when close to zero as if it actually is. Several times a year timing has occurred to dip it below zero - but that buffer ensures no issues. For us it is better than the overdraft protection the banks provide.
- Since retiring, I get my pension at the beginning of the month, and most of our interest/dividend income the last day of the month. We arranged for all of our regularly occurring bills to be due between the 10th and 15th of the month. At the beginning of the month, after interest/dividends and pension has been deposited. we pay all bills by the 2nd or 3rd day of the month. What is left is what we have to spend the rest of the month. This helps us better plan for how we spend for other items before the next month.
- Groceries is not just shopping, we also try to avoid wasting what we have bought. No sense buying large sizes of perishable items that may seem cost efficient but you end up throwing out a third or 1/2 of it because it has spoiled. Also, we have started once a quarter to go through our freezer, fridge, and pantry, to take everything out and put it back in, just to remind ourselves what we still have. amazing how many times we find items we forgot we had and do not need to purchase for a while.

samstar
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:34 am

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by samstar » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:06 pm

Self insure as much as you can.
Go for high deductible auto and home policies.
No extended warranties.
And, this is more personal and dependent on many factors, no need to overdo term life coverage

User avatar
beyou
Posts: 2582
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:57 pm
Location: Northeastern US

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by beyou » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:09 pm

Just wondering if I still need Netflix. Too much content being paid for...no time to watch it all, even if good quality.

slick_dealer_05
Posts: 368
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:16 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by slick_dealer_05 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:33 pm

*Automate investing (buying funds weekly in taxable account)
*CC signup bonuses (wife and I have been churning for the past 10 years - all vacations paid for)
*Brokerage signup bonuses (2xML, 2xTD, 2xCSP = $4500 this year)
*Biking to work (get free parking, exercise, and save on gas/car maintenance)
*Live in the smallest house in the neighborhood
*No cable/no tv

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 6810
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii😀 Northern AZ.😳 Retired.

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:01 pm

In my life, the surest cure to "financial leakage" (sounds nasty) was to get on the ball and focus on making a lot more income.

. . . and, of course. . . stop the leakage :oops:
(eggads. . .sounds like a side effect of some types of medication on the warning label) :shock:

j :happy

prairieman
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by prairieman » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:06 am

I do many of the above things but on top of those I have switched to near maintenance-free landscaping:
(1) Much of my lot is a native prairie which took effort to install, but is now mostly self-sustaining - only requiring a little weeding to keep out aggressive invaders. Looks beautiful each year.
(2) Adopted low-maintenance principles for what lawn remains: no fertilizer, lawn-mower on highest setting, water deeply following mowing to reduce stress, never mow in hot sun, hand weed allowing white clover to coexist with grass (clover is free fertilizer), never rake but rather mulch clippings and leaves (more free fertilizer). My neighbor pays a lawn service to put down chemicals (fertilizer and weed killer) about five times per year and he has to mow and water more often - but my lawn looks as good or better than his most of the time.

Sandi_k
Posts: 1003
Joined: Sat May 16, 2015 11:55 am
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Fixing financial "leakage" - what do you do?

Post by Sandi_k » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:40 pm

- Buy a fuel-efficient car, and keep the tires inflated.
- Pay attention to ERs and fees for investment accounts.
- Fee-free checking at our local CU.
- Online banking for better interest rates.
- Shop cable and internet and insurance every 2 years. Own your own modem.
- Scrutinize bills for auto-enrolled services; I found that Experian auto-enrolled me in credit monitoring service for $10 per month when I checked my credit report online. :annoyed Canceled it promptly.

- Make sure that you're tight on the big things; housing (2.625% rate for 15 year fixed); car (paid for); and food (shop with cash, have a budget).
- Meal plan, using store flyers and deals. Eat leftovers.
- Spend some time understanding travel plans and costs; which days are cheapest for air travel, when cruises are on sale, etc.
- Get your teeth cleaned 2x per year. Peridontal disease is a contributing factor to heart attacks and strokes.
- See your doc regularly - get preventive care, such as colonoscopies, mammograms, etc.
- Have your animals current on vaccines, teeth cleanings, etc.
- Digital thermostat that is programmable. Saved us thousands over the years.

Post Reply