By Barbara Pronin
No matter how careful we are with money, everyone has holes in the budget: small indulgences or careless mistakes that end up costing big dollars. The finance experts at Kiplinger’s point out six common money-wasters it makes good sense to avoid:
Carrying a balance – This can cost hundreds of dollars each year in interest – and also costs you down the line in the form of lower credit scores that trigger higher interest rates on loans. If you can’t pay off balances each month, at least keep your balance to less than 25 percent of available credit.
Paying late fees on missed deadlines – It’s easy to miss a payment occasionally. But if you miss a credit card payment by even one day, you will pay a late fee of $25 ($35 if it’s the second time in six months) – and your credit score could also take a hit. A history of on-time payments accounts for 35 percent of your FICO credit score — more than any other factor. If you have a good payment record, you should call your card issuer and ask that a one-time late fee be waived.
Buying insurance you don’t need – Unless you have people financially dependent on you, you may not need as much life insurance as you are paying for. You can also probably do without credit-card insurance (use the premium to pay down debt), rental-car insurance (most auto policies carry some coverage) and mortgage life insurance (a regular term-life insurance policy is more comprehensive).
Overspending on gas and oil – Most cars do fine on regular gas. Be sure tires are properly inflated for best gas mileage – and most cars today require oil changes every five or six thousand miles, not every 3,000 as they once did. Check your owner’s manual regarding regular maintenance – and opt for a fuel-efficient car.
Keeping unhealthy habits – The average price per pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is $6.03, but health-related costs per pack are $35, according to the American Cancer Society. Over a year, those added costs can amount to $12,775 for a pack-a-day smoker. Another habit to quit: indoor tanning. There is a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services – and as with cigarettes, the true cost of tanning — one of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation — is higher than the price you pay per session.