Marcia's Blog

Three financial black holes you can avoid

There are some budget busters that are out of your control, such as a flat tire or an unexpected house repair. But often your money disappears into a financial hole that you can avoid.

Here are three things that can kill your budget, but only if you let them.

Late fees. You probably account for your monthly bills in your budget, but what about the late fees that are tacked on whenever a bill is late? It may not seem like much -- $10 here, $25 there – but when you add late fees up month after month, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars a year. If you have trouble remembering when your bills are due, set reminders on your smartphone just as you remind yourself of a doctor’s appointment or your child’s school play. Or better yet, automate the payment of your bills via online banking and you’ll never be late – or pay a late fee – again.

Unplanned dining. Saying you’ll never eat out again is unrealistic. But how many times do you eat out, not because you want to, but because you didn’t plan ahead or you just didn’t feel like cooking?  Rather than spending extra money on food because of convenience, stock your refrigerator with quick, easy (and healthy) meals that you can turn to when you don’t feel like making a major meal. Also, plan your meals in advance so you have the time and ingredients you need on hand and can save your money for the dining out experiences that will be really meaningful.

Unexpected gifts. Hopefully you set aside money for holiday gifts. But think about how many times your budget has been thrown off by unexpected events such as a wedding, a retirement or your child’s growing list of birthday parties to attend. Expect the unexpected when it comes to gifts and put some extra money aside. Also pick up generic gifts that you might be able to use for such occasions when they’re on sale.

Your money is something that you can absolutely control. You have more money than you think – as long as you know where to look.