Penny Foolish: How 6 Tiny Money Leaks Cost Me $1,702 Annually

I hate it when I see people waste food. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been that way. Lucky for me I love leftovers.

Another pet peeve of mine is carelessly wasting money on things that can be easily prevented. But while I’m very careful about not wasting food, I still have a lot of work to do when it gets down to plugging my other money leaks.

I recently did a quick audit to see where some of my biggest leaks were coming from. Then I evaluated my odds of repairing them. Here’s my list…

1. Buying lunch at work

My (lame) excuse: Hey! Every once in a while I get hungry at work. Besides, who has time to make and pack their own lunch?
Short-term impact: A grilled cheese sandwich here, a bag of chips and a cookie there – add it all up and I’m currently averaging about $10 per week at my workplace cafeteria.
Long-term impact: $500 annually, assuming my appetite doesn’t get bigger between now and then.
The obvious solution: Pack my own lunch the night before.
Odds of this actually happening: 50/50.

2. Overpaying for satellite TV

My (lame) excuse: Although I watch the same 25 channels 99.5376 percent of the time, one day I may want to watch something on one of the other 1,746 channels I’m paying for.
Short-term impact: I pay about $20 per month extra for the additional satellite channels I watch 0.4624 percent of the time.
Long-term impact: $240 annually.
The obvious solution: Dump the extra channels and resign myself to the fact that I’ll miss a show I really want to watch 0.4624 percent of time.
Odds of this actually happening: Although this one’s a no-brainer, the answer is slim and none. This is yet more proof that people make irrational money decisions all the time.

3. Paying almost all bills by snail mail instead of the Internet

My (lame) excuse: My wife pays the bills, and she insists on paying them the old-fashioned way because she “doesn’t trust computers.” (Don’t say it, I know.)
Short-term impact: On average, she writes about 10 checks per month for bills that she could pay online or automatically.
Long-term impact: $60 annually, assuming 50 cents per bill (for the price of the stamp, envelope, and check).
The obvious solution: Well, short of finding a second spouse – which I still believe is illegal in most states – somehow convince my wife to start “trusting computers” and pay our bills online.
Odds of this actually happening: I stand a better chance of being hired as a back-up singer and off-stage cabana boy for Lady Gaga.

4. Paying to use the express lane when it’s not really necessary

My (lame) excuse: Even though I’m on the road by 5 a.m. when traffic is still relatively light, it’s insurance against getting stuck in an unexpected traffic jam down the road.
Short-term impact: Over the past two months, I’ve “chickened out” and taken the express lane in the wee hours of the morning an average of twice per week.
Long-term impact: $402 annually, assuming the toll road rates don’t go up – which they will.
The obvious solution: Look fear in the eye and bypass the express lanes at 5 in the morning.
Odds of this actually happening: A near certainty. After evaluating the long-term impact, I’m already feeling braver. Wait, I changed my mind.

5. My insatiable addiction to iTunes

My (lame) excuse: Why listen to some corporate radio station with a puny playlist of 400 songs – half of which I don’t like – when I can listen to my own personal music library?
Short-term impact: Last month I spent almost $100 – although that’s not typical.
Long-term impact: I expect to spend about $500 annually, give or take $100. Okay, okay. Give $100.
The obvious solution: Limit the monthly growth of my iTunes collection by 80 percent.
Odds of this actually happening: One chance in three. My intentions are good here, so I’ll try my best, but this is easier said than done.

6. Not replacing the weatherstripping on my front and back doors

My (lame) excuse: I live in Los Angeles, not Moscow. How much energy can I really be wasting?
Short-term impact: I’m not sure, but the U.S. Department of Energy says weatherstripping pays for itself within one year via reduced energy costs.
Long-term impact: Based upon the data from the Department of Energy, I’m guessing less than $20.
The obvious solution: Get off my butt and weatherstrip my external doors.
Odds of this actually happening: 99 percent. I know – it’s ironic that the money leak with the lowest financial impact will be the one most likely to be fixed.

As you can see, if I’m successful in plugging all of these money leaks, I could conceivably end up saving $1,702 per year – or more! Unfortunately, the odds are I will continue to be penny foolish and let most of these leaks just keep on draining the hard-earned money from my wallet.

Well, that is, unless Lady Gaga happens to come a-calling.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Simple Steps to an Awesome Retirement
5 Simple Steps to an Awesome Retirement

The path to your dream retirement begins with these five steps. How many have you already taken?

How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month
How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month

In the gig economy, baby boomers are out-hustling their younger competition. You can cash in, too.

7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon
7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon

Use these websites and other tools to save money — or earn extra cash — when shopping at Amazon.

9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air
9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air

These plants may also do everything from reduce the amount of dust in your home to improve your productivity.

17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money

Here’s how to cut household costs and maintain your property’s value.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.