Unless you were fortunate enough to be born to wealthy parents you probably have to work pretty hard for your money. You get up in the morning, cram isdown a quick breakfast and then it’s off to eight hours (or even more) on the job.
Since you work hard for your money you’d undoubtedly notice if a large amount of money were to suddenly disappear from your checking account with no explanation. But you might not notice it if five dollars or even $10 quietly disappeared. This can happen and when it does it’s sort of like invisible vampires sucking out your hard earned dollars. And this can be especially true if you have most of your bills set on auto pay.
Those little vampires called bank fees
The first kind of vampire leaks to look for are bank fees. The banks have found numerous ways to cash in on fees. For example, consider those overdraft fees. Many banks formerly added overdraft protection automatically to their customers’ accounts at an average cost of about $35 per transaction. However, in 2010 our Congress enacted the Overdraft Protection Law so that customers are now required to opt in to get this “protection”. How much is this costing you if you opted in? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a study in 2014 showing that customers that had opted in for this protection paid seven times more in overdraft fees and nonsufficient funds fees than those that hadn’t opted in. The net/net here is to check to see what you’re actually paying your bank for. If you find your paying a monthly fee just to access your funds or for services you don’t need, then it may be time to think about making a change in banks.
If you live where there’s a summer and winter your energy bill probably remains about the same year-round. But if not, your energy costs probably fluctuate throughout the year. And it may have nothing to do with the weather. It may be due to the energy saving efforts you haven’t taken. For instance, do you have a programmable thermostat? It can save you big money by turning down the temperature when you’re not at home or when you’re sleeping. You should keep shades closed during the summer and use thermal curtains as draft stoppers to prevent hot air from escaping during the winter. Other energy vampires include old, outdated appliances and incandescent lightbulbs. You could make just a few, small changes like unplugging your electronic devices at night and end up spending a lot less on your energy throughout the year.
Subscriptions and memberships vampires
If you’re typical you probably find it easy to sign up for subscription services but a lot harder to stop them when you no longer need them. This is because that five dollars or $10 a month charge isn’t very noticeable when it hits your checking account. But do the math. Suppose you’re getting razors by mail, a magazine you hardly ever open and paying for a health club membership you rarely use. The small fees you pay for these services can actually add up pretty quickly. Sit down, audit your subscriptions and memberships and eliminate the ones you no longer use.
The price creep vampire
The two biggest offenders in this category are probably Internet and cable providers. You sign up for an introductory cable package because it’s priced so low. But this new customer pricing will eventually expire and when it does you could see your monthly cost jacked up considerably. Ditto your Internet service. Also, these providers sometimes tack on fees incorrectly. So if you’re not paying careful attention you could be paying a lot more than you thought.
The water vampire
Just a small water leak can end up costing you good money. Do you need to irrigate your lawn? If you overwater this would be a real money-sucking vampire. And if you don’t have a water saving showerhead, you need to get one. There are many available that use tricks so that you’ll have a good shower without realizing you’re using less water.
The food waste vampire
Here’s yet another one that can suck good money out of your checking account. Americans, on the average, overspend on their food both at the grocery store and restaurants. In fact, there was a study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council that showed Americans were wasting 40% of their food purchases. Believe it or not, this turns out to be an average of $2000 per year per household. You can prevent this vampire from sucking money out of your checking account by doing meal planning and eliminating impulse purchases. And you could cut down on that eating out by inviting friends over for a meal.