You know the feeling when reach into the pocket of a coat you haven't worn for awhile and pull out a $20 bill? What would it feel like if you pulled out hundreds of dollars? And what if you found money like that month after month?
It's not magic — it can be done. Pinholes in your financial life can turn into massive money-gushers. Patching these holes is the key to improving your income.
The problem is that it's easy to ignore the tiny cracks. We're busy — there's the mortgage or rent, car payment, credit cards, insurance, college savings, carpools, vacation plans, retirement accounts, work benefits; kids, dog, guinea pig. So the little stuff happens without our noticing. We think:
What's the harm in picking up dinner from the drive-thru again? Our lives are so busy and we have to eat.
Why go to the trouble of scoping out the sales before I hit the supermarket? It's just easier to buy what looks good that the kids will eat.
Why pay more than the minimum payment this month? It won't make that much difference in the long run and besides I need to start Christmas shopping.
Those three small, seemingly innocuous money issues — everyday financial decisions that pop up regularly — can end up costing thousands of dollars a year.
Consider the following:
It will cost at least $25 to feed a family of five at any junk food drive-thru. The food will be marginal in taste and nutrition. You could prepare a much tastier and much more nutritious meal at home for just $10. Easy. Do the math. If you do that twice a week, you're letting $780 leak out of your life (52 x $15 = $780) every year.
If you are diligent to buy your supermarket food items only when they are on sale (don't worry, everything goes on sale in a typical supermarket in a 12-week rotation), you'll cut your grocery tab by at least 50 percent! The difference between full price and sale price is stunning when everything in your cart is on sale.
It'll take you 10 years and cost you an additional $10,000 in interest alone on a $10,000 credit-card balance if you pay only the minimum amount required.
See how easy it is for slow leaks to turn into big money blowouts? Then imagine those little leaks draining money from your bank account a dozen times over, month after month.
When it comes to your finances, those seemingly undetectable cracks in your checking account, credit-card debt, food tab and other household expenses can seriously sideline your dreams.
I'm honored that you've chosen to let me help you patch them up.
Would you like more information? Log on to EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.