18 Ways Money Slips Through Your Fingers

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A surprised man looks at his empty wallet in shock
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on TheDollarStretcher.com.

There are times in our lives when money slips through our fingers.

It may be because we aren’t organized, we procrastinate, or we fail to jump on an opportunity before the chance goes by.

Here are some ways of wasting money and having it slip through our fingers.

1. Cafeteria Plan

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Many workplaces have something called a cafeteria plan that lets you reduce your taxes by putting money aside to use for medical or child care expenses.

Not joining the plan means more money goes to the taxman instead of your account. Once you do join the cafeteria plan, make sure to monitor your balance and plan how to use any surplus, so you don’t lose more than you save on taxes.

2. Coupons

Woman with coupon
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Have you ever gone shopping and forgotten to give the cashier your coupons? Figure out a way to remember to redeem coupons. For example, put a sticky note on your debit card or cash before heading to the store.

3. Rebates

Computer with "Cash Back" on screen.
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Many stores and companies offer rebates when you buy their merchandise. Be prompt in submitting rebates or you may lose the opportunity.

4. Reusable Bags

Woman carrying a reusable shopping bag
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Some stores offer incentives (up to 25 cents per bag of items purchased) for bringing in your own bag. You also help the environment.

5. Gift Cards

Couple with gift card
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Have you ever been given a gift card and lost it before you could redeem it? This is another way to let money slip through your fingers.

6. Lost Items

Senior searching for something she lost
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I once helped a woman move who owned 13 pairs of scissors. She bought a new pair if she couldn’t find one when she needed it.

Having a designated place for things and taking the time to put everything in its place will save you money by eliminating the need to buy doubles.

7. Failure to Plan Ahead

A man scratches his head while trying to think
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Do you use time and gas making extra trips because of poor planning? Substitute or go without for a while instead of making one more trip to the store.

8. Expired Food

A woman checks a product's sell-by date
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Are you wasting money by not using food in your cupboards before it expires? Do you have bread or leftovers getting moldy in your fridge? Clean your fridge regularly each week and have a special shelf for leftovers.

For bread, leave out only what you will eat before it gets moldy and freeze the rest. For canned items, write enlarged expiration dates on cans so they are easily visible. Rotate cans and put the ones that expire first in the front of your cupboard.

Plan meals around items that need to be used. You aren’t saving money if food ends up being thrown out.

9. Expense Accounts

Woman working on her taxes
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Some workplaces give their employees expense accounts that they can use throughout the year. Be aware of your balance so you won’t end up losing it at the end of the year.

10. Grocery/Club Cards

Woman reaching into wallet at checkout stand.
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Some stores offer club cards that offer members reduced prices. Make sure to use your card or give your phone number to get the proper discount.

11. Buy the Right Size and Amount

Happy woman putting away groceries
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One grocery store had a special going that if you bought five items, you got five dollars off. It was cheaper to buy five than to buy two or three during these sales.

Check to make sure you have the right size and number of items or you won’t get the bargain price.

12. Library Fines

College student at library
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Using a library saves you money unless you lose the books or turn them in late. Save the library receipt to know how many books need to be turned in and write down when they are due on a calendar.

13. Tax Refunds

Stressed accountant doing taxes
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Some people lose money on tax refunds because they are unaware of tax breaks for which they qualify. If you prepare your own taxes, buy a tax software package each year. It can help you make sure you are getting back what is due.

14. Credit Cards

Stressed man considering his credit card debt
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Some people let money slip through their fingers by not paying their credit card bill off in full each month. Others don’t send the payment in time and end up paying $25 to $40 in late fees. If you are going to use a credit card, send the bill in on time and pay it off in full each month.

15. Clutter

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When your home is cluttered, you can easily lose important papers. It is hard to keep on top of things when they are not organized.

Some people rent storage sheds to get their clutter out of sight, but end up paying much more in fees than the stored items are worth. If you have a storage shed, plan a time to clean it out and stop wasting money on storage fees.

If you really like what is in storage, find a way to have it in your home. If you aren’t that fond of the things anyway, get rid of them by selling or donating them.

16. Bank Fees

Woman shocked by her mortgage balance
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Keep on top of ATM transactions so you don’t end up paying money to get cash. Don’t let your checking account get overdrawn by writing checks that will bounce.

You will have to pay a hefty fee for each bounced check. If you don’t have the money in the bank, don’t write a check.

17. Monthly Fees

Businessman reading documents
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Do you belong to a health club? Do you have a newspaper or magazine subscription? If so, do you use the club or read the magazine regularly? If not, cancel your subscription and stop wasting money.

Check your credit card statement carefully each month for recurring items you might have forgotten about.

18. Update Your Insurance Occasionally

medical insurance
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Are you still paying for insurance premiums for married children or on cars that have been sold? Check your insurance policies regularly to see if you need to make some changes.

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