Do You Make These 3 Personal Finance Mistakes?

Small mistakes with your finances can make a huge impact over time. Small mistakes are annoying because it can take some effort to notice them. So spend some time looking at your finances – maybe each week. Here are three common mistakes that can cost you:

1. Overspending on movies, video, and TV

You finally have some time to sit down and enjoy some sort of content. That content may be your favorite drama or comedy series, or maybe that new movie that looks interesting. Before you make your viewing decision, think about your options. Technology now provides dozens of choices for accessing content:

  • Subscription sites: A growing number of people have subscriptions to stream content. Netflix and HBO GO are two popular sites. These two sites have become particularly attractive, because they now produce original content. Are you paying for more than one of these sites? If so, can you cut back to one? When you’re going to watch content, check out your subscription sites first.
  • Redbox: Assuming that the movie you want isn’t on one of your subscription sites, you might check out Redbox next. Redbox offers new movies for just a dollar or two.
  • On-Demand: Your last option should be on-demand through your cable or satellite provider. That’s because On-Demand movies are typically $5 and higher. Redbox is cheaper – and if you’re already paying for Netflix, this should be your last option.

2. Not paying attention to your music service subscriptions

Like movies and other programming, you have many choices when it comes to music. Again, this first step is to take a hard look at any “premium” music subscription services you pay to use.

Pandora and Spotify offer both free sites and premium sites for a monthly fee. So, is the premium site worth it? Spotify Premium allows you to save and listen to playlists when you’re offline – when you’re on a plane, for example. If you travel frequently, that might be worth $9.99 a month.

If you simply want to listen to music of a certain genre, consider sticking with the free service. Why spend money on monthly fees? Use this as a reminder to check up on your other monthly recurring charges too.

3. Impulse buying food

Food can be the ultimate impulse buy. When we’re busy or tired, we may opt to buy food rather than cook at home. Or, we want to eat out as a “treat” or “reward” for ourselves. Consider these choices instead:

  • Prepared meals: To avoid the “I’m too tired to cook” trap, try having some meals at home that are already put together. You still have some prep work, but you don’t have to start from scratch.
  • Carry out vs. dining in: You’d like a nice meal, but you’re on a budget. Consider getting carry out, rather than dining in. Make it fun!
  • Downgrade on the type of restaurant: If you still want to dine out, perhaps pick a location that is less expensive and fits your budget.

Sticking to a budget can still be challenging but rewarding. Aim to live within your means. Think through your  options and stay on track.

Make your finances easy.

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A version of this post was originally published on Accounting Accidentally by Ken Boyd of St. Louis Test Preparation | Photo by rawpixel