For many people, saving money is more important these days than ever. We experienced a major financial crisis just a few years ago that caused many people to lose their jobs and even their homes, and some people are still struggling to recover. Lots of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck these days and under those conditions, saving money becomes almost mandatory. Although the following strategies may seem like good ways to save, taking a harder look reveals that you are probably better off steering clear of these ideas and employing some methods that do work.
1. STORE CREDIT CARDS
Credit cards, with their interest payments and fees are are hugely profitable for the banks and financial institutions that issue them, so it’s no wonder that stores want in on some of that action. That’s why you will sometimes see store employees stationed at strategic locations inside retail establishments armed with clipboards and a well-rehearsed pitch intended to make you believe that having a store-issued credit card will make your life better. It won’t
For most of us, and especially those of us who already have credit card debt, a new credit card is the last thing you need. The temptation to buy now and pay later can be quite compelling and can lead you to buy something you do not need. Store credit cards also usually have higher interest rates than the big name cards. Stores might try to lure you with offers of discounts on your purchases, but wouldn’t you be better off not spending money you don’t have for the sake of saving 15 percent on something you don’t need?
2. PUTTING OFF CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS
Financial difficulties will often have people desperately searching for ways to cut their spending, and one of the most popular ways that is done are by skipping or delaying credit card payments. You might get away with that once or twice and simply have to absorb the “late fee” that will most likely be added to your account, but there’s the genuine risk of damaging your credit score in the process.
A low credit score can make it difficult or impossible to get an auto loan, a mortgage, or even rent an apartment. A better option is to contact the credit card company as soon as you know you are having problems and explain the situation to them. In many cases, they will work with you to lower your payments, lower the interest rate or change your due date.
3. ‘FREE’ OFFICE SUPPLIES FROM WORK
If you’re like most people, you have probably been tempted a time or two to snap up a box of paperclips or roll of Scotch tape from the office supplies cabinet at work. With the massive inventory some large offices have on hand, they won’t miss a thing or two that finds it’s way home in your purse or backpack, right?
The reality of the situation is that it’s not worth the risk. Taking things from your employer without authorization is stealing according to the law, and your employer can not only fire you, but they could also file charges against you for theft if they wanted to.
4. NOT SAVING FOR EMERGENCIES
Using a credit card or borrowing from friends and family aren’t the best (or most comfortable) ways to pay for those little emergencies that occur from time to time. Having an emergency fund will give you peace of mind and allow you to handle the financial burden than an unexpected event can impose on you out of the blue.
You don’t have to sock away a fortune to be better prepared, and saving just a small amount per week can add up pretty quickly and help you avoid going into debt when your car breaks down, for example.
5. BUYING IN BULK
Shopping in those massive warehouse stores can be fun for sure, but most, if not all of them, charge a membership fee for the privilege of shopping there. If you have a huge family and will use that 40-ounce jar of peanut butter or 5 pounds of pasta, you may be saving money, but for many shoppers, buying in bulk only provides the illusion of saving. And who doesn’t end up being tempted by all those fun and exciting things you see in a warehouse store that you usually wouldn’t be buying? In many cases, you probably end up spending more in a warehouse store than if you shopped at the local supermarket.
Also, keep in mind that warehouse stores do not normally have the best prices on the things you normally buy at the supermarket. Taking advantage of the best deals and sales at your local supermarket will save you more in the long run, and if you want to max out the savings potential, use coupons. For everyday savings, consider buying the store brand items instead of the better-known national brands. Consumer research has demonstrated that the majority of store brands are just as good as the big name brands and buying them can save you as much as 25 percent.
6. NOT SAVING FOR RETIREMENT
Although retirement may be many years in the future for you, you’ll be quite surprised to find out just how quickly those years passed when you are on the north side of 50 looking back on your life. Saving for retirement is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, and you’ll be forever grateful to your younger self when the regular paychecks stop coming in, and you are trying to get by on social security or a pension plan that isn’t as generous as you thought it would be. Many employers offer matching contributions for retirement accounts, so you are saying “no” to free money if you fail to enroll in that type of retirement savings plan when it is offered.