“Beware of little expenses - a small leak will sink a great ship.”
Do any of these anecdotes resonate with you?
I found a plastic envelope deep within my paper ‘in-tray’ the other day with 3 different gift vouchers in it. 2 had expired and 1 was still useable. Forgetting about these, (or you could say … not going through my ever growing ‘in-tray’ quite often enough!) meant that I had basically thrown away money. Not my best moment.
A client of mine had a habit of popping into the supermarket on the way home from work to buy convenient quick-cook food, despite having a full fridge of food at home. She found herself spending more and more money at the supermarket whilst also having to chuck out food that was left languishing in her fridge.
Another client had come to a session and told me that as part of our ‘reflective spend tracking’ exercise that they had been practicing at home, they had spotted a subscription that had kicked in 6 months ago after they forgot to cancel a free trial (damn those free trials!). Cancelling this subscription was going to save them £39 per month. Great win! Also, not noticing the little b*gger in the first place had cost them £234. Nooooo!
I call these ‘Money Leaks’
as they remind me of the slow drips of a leaking bucket that can never fill. We live busy lives, and our money is all online, so it is remarkably easy to overlook small expenses that, unsurprisingly, over time accumulate into far more significant amounts. While each individual expense may not seem substantial, their cumulative effect can have a substantial impact on your bank account.
If you often find yourself wondering how on earth another month has flown by and all your income from that month has seemingly vanished, you might want to take a closer look at those small or forgotten expenses that might mean you are leaking money.
So let’s have a look at some common leaks
and explore practical ways to plug them so that you can keep that bucket from draining away:
➡️ Unused Subscriptions:
This is the most common one I see. While subscriptions can be cost-effective in some cases, they are often unused and unneeded. Review your monthly subscriptions for services you no longer use or need. Cancel or downgrade them to save money.
➡️ Buying food when out:
I’m not saying never eat out, or treat yourself to a sandwich at work. But dining at restaurants, buying food at work or ordering takeout frequently can add up. Consider cooking at home more often, limit eating out to special occasions or taking a packed lunch to work.
➡️ Impulsive Shopping:
The online world has made buying things so easy (see my blog ‘Amazon ‘buy now’ is no longer my friend’). Before buying something, ask yourself if it's a genuine necessity or a fleeting desire. Or leave it in your basket for 24 hours and see how you feel about it the next day.
➡️ Utility Waste:
Saving on utilities is all the rage thanks to the obscenely high costs that are affecting us all. Reduce your utility bills by being mindful of energy and water consumption. Turn off lights when not in use, unplug electronics, and fix any leaks or drafts in your home. It will really make a difference.
➡️ Credit Card Interest:
If you have any credit card debt, the interest can accumulate quickly. Where possible, pay off your credit card balances in full each month to avoid interest charges or consider transferring balances to a card with a lower (or zero) interest rate.
➡️ Unplanned Bank Fees:
Be aware of account maintenance fees or charges for services you don't use. You might not even be aware of potential fees so do check if you’ll get charged for a specific service. e.g. ATM fees, paper bank statement fees etc. Consider switching to a bank that offers fee-free accounts or lower fees.
➡️ Rolled over Insurances:
Review your insurance policies (such as car, home, or health insurance) periodically to ensure you have the appropriate coverage at the best price. Shop around for competitive rates as so often your current supplier will charge you higher rates when you roll over into the next year than if you change suppliers.
➡️ Unused Gift Cards:
That’s me. Darn it. If you have unused gift cards don't let them go to waste. I feel like a total plonker for doing so.
➡️ Food waste:
Food isn’t cheap and throwing away food is akin to throwing away money. When you’re cooking, try to only make what you will eat and put away any extra in the freezer. You can also turn leftover food into soups or casseroles or incorporate them into other dishes.
➡️ Coffee shops:
Spending £10 ish every day on a couple of coffees or pastries (or both) might not seem like much, but if you do this even just three times a week, that adds up to £130 per month or £1560 per year. Yikes! Consider a reusable mug or thermos and make your coffee at home.
Money leaks are not ideal, especially if you are trying to save money,
... so it’s always a great idea to take a look at your finances so that you can spot those pesky smaller purchases that like to slip through the cracks.
Identify any recurring expenses in your budget to identify any potential money leaks.
Eliminate purchases that you don’t use enough or look for cheaper alternatives.
Regularly review your expenses to help identify areas where you can make useful changes.
But remember that your financial situation is as unique as your fingerprint
...so focus on finding your own personal money leaks, and don’t compare yourself with others.