Biz Bits: 5 money traps to avoid each month
Tip of the Week
People often overspend in ways they don’t even realize. From service plans that aren’t being used to buying too many bulk items, it is easy to throw away money without even knowing it. If you want to better balance your budget and keep more money in your pocket, keep an eye out for these five money traps:
1. Bulk shopping in the grocery store - Avoid bulk shopping unless you’re sure you’ll use the whole package. Yes, the price is cheaper when you buy in bulk - but is your household actually consuming the food products before they go to waste? If you’re throwing away spoiled foods frequently, you’re probably buying too much. To make the most out of discounted bulk shopping, go shopping with a friend or neighbor. Split the cost of the goods and carpool to the store. This way, you’ll both be saving money.
2. Shopping the coupons for items you don’t need - Don’t use a coupon unless an item is on your shopping list. Manufacturer coupons are a great way to save money on an item - if you need the product, that is. Only clip coupons for the items you have on your list. If it’s not there, that coupon isn’t saving you any money. In fact, it’s costing you money. To make better use of coupons, combine them with store discounts for bigger savings on the items on your list.
3. Paying for more than you need - Take a good look at your service contracts like your wireless bill. Are you using all the services you’re paying for? No-contract plans like Total Wireless ensure you get everything you need and nothing you don’t. Available exclusively at Walmart, this plan offers unlimited talk, text and 2.5 GB of data.
4. Throwing away what can be reused - Take stock of what you’re sending to the curb in your garbage or recycling containers. How many reusable plastic food containers and paper towels do you throw away each week? Try using cloth towels instead of paper ones, and cleaning and reusing plastic containers. You’ll never need to buy plastic storage containers again, and as your towels start to fray and show signs of wear and tear, just send them to the garage where they’ll be perfect for washing the cars or checking the oil.
5. Setting up automatic payments - Don’t schedule automatic payments for non-essential expenses. Scheduling automatic payments from your checking account or credit card is certainly a time-saving tool, and it should be used for specific bills that you must pay each month to avoid giving away money on late-fee charges. But for superfluous payments such as a gym membership or movie-streaming subscription, it makes it harder for you to analyze if the service is something you need - or want - each month. Consider physically writing out a check or paying these bills online each month, so that you can reflect on how much you actually used the service, and if the price was worthwhile for you and your budget.
In recent months, thousands of Facebook users have been the victim of a scam called “malicious tagging.” The Better Business Bureau urges everyone using Facebook to use caution when opening unexpected or suspicious posts, due to of the nature of the scam and the damage it can cause.
Here is how the scam works: You get tagged in a Facebook post, along with a few other friends. There is a link to an “adult” video, when you click it, a pop-up window appears. It says that you need to download a Flash player update before you can watch the video. This update actually scans your computer for personal or banking information. It also goes onto your personal Facebook accounts, creates a fake video posts, tags your friends and repeats this scam.
“It’s the trusting nature of social media sites that cause individuals to fall victim to scams like these,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Never click on links that seem suspicious to you, even if it indicates it was posted by a friend.”
According to Economist Intelligence Unit, these are the safest cities in the world:
10. New York City
9. Melbourne, Australia
7. Zurich, Switzerland
3. Osaka, Japan
Number to Know
$4.63 billion: Amount of money Americans were expected to spend on St. Patrick’s Day this year, according to Forbes.
Apple recently announced plan for a TV service this fall. The package, which would be streamed, would include 25 channels usually only available in the traditional ways. Not all major networks will be available, however - at the moment, NBC is not part of the package.
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