11 expenses that quietly drain your wallet

We all know how easy it is to blow money on a big purchase. Buy an expensive home or car, and you soon might regret it.

But it’s also easy to lose gobs of money a little at a time. That’s true whether you live paycheck to paycheck or you have money to burn.

Here are some budget busters that may be quietly draining your wallet.

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Expenses that are secretly draining your wallet
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Expenses that are secretly draining your wallet

1. Spending on phony emergencies

A real emergency isn’t so quiet. In fact, a layoff, unexpected medical bill or car breakdown tends to announce itself rudely and loudly.

But other so-called emergencies — like that oh-so-cute, on-sale bedding set for the kids, or that gotta-have-it-now bar of chocolate — are really just “wants” masquerading as needs.

Save the spending for real emergencies. And to make sure such events don’t derail your finances, read “9 Ways to Build an Emergency Fund When Money’s Tight.”

2. Buying the ‘latest and greatest’ of anything

Are you a gadget junkie? Maybe you have to have the latest and greatest iPhone or tablet?

Such spending sprees are hazardous to your financial health. In many cases, you’d be better served by buying used or refurbished.

That is even true on big purchases, such as homes. As we have written, older homes often are constructed better than new homes. However, if something vintage makes you nervous, consider buying something nearly new:

If you love the idea of new construction, remember that an existing home doesn’t necessarily have to be 50 years old. If you want an energy-efficient home with new amenities, you can probably find it at a lower price if you’re willing to be owner No. 2 or 3.

For more tips, check out “You Should Never Buy These 10 Things New.”

3. Piling groceries into your cart

It’s so easy to head to the store with a few things in mind, but end up spending $100 or more. That’s where discipline comes in.

Use a meal planner so you are buying what you really need, instead of grabbing whatever you desire at that moment. And don’t forget your coupons.

Never head to the store hungry, or you will be tempted to leave with every item that whets your mental appetite. For more tips on saving at the grocery store, check out “20 Items No One Should Ever Buy From a Grocery Store.”

4. Dining out too often

Eating out is one of the most insidious ways to bleed your wallet. It’s even worse if you spend hundreds at the grocery store each month, only to end up dining out more than you actually cook.

Office lunch dates can put another hole in your finances, especially if they become part of your daily routine.

So, make dining out an occasional treat. And before you go, be sure to check out “7 Surefire Ways to Save on Your Next Restaurant Meal.”

5. Living the high life with your friends

Your friends are heading out for a night of fun, and you are all for it. After all, you’ve had a long week at work and the kids are driving you nuts.

But there’s a problem: Your bank account is on the brink of going into the red.

Be wise and say no. Even if you have to make up a lame excuse, it’s worth it to salvage your budget. Or, convince your friends that you can have fun more frugally. For tips, check out “More Fun for Less Money: 17 Ways to Save on Entertainment.”

6. Planning expensive vacations

There is nothing wrong with heading out of town for the weekend, or even planning an extended excursion. But if you’re already struggling to make ends meet, now is not the time to splurge on five-star hotels and first-class flights.

Instead, plan vacations in a way that minimizes costs — such as being flexible with your travel dates. As we point out in “14 Super Smart Ways to Save on Travel“:

One of the best ways to save money on travel is to go when prices are lowest. There are cheaper days to fly, with Tuesday and Wednesday flights appearing to be the biggest bargains.

For more tips, check out:

7. Splurging on clothes

Those new heels you’ve been coveting have finally gone on clearance. But if your budget says no, it’s wise to leave them at the store.

Numerous studies have shown that material purchases do not make us happy for long. Instead, we get more satisfaction from spending on experiences.

For more on cutting costs, check out “10 Tips to Spend Less on Clothes.”

8. Pampering sessions

While your body may need a little TLC from time to time, heading to the spa or hair salon once a week has the potential to inflict serious damage on your savings.

So, why not bring the spa to your home for a fraction of the price? Check out “Skip the Spa: Pamper Yourself With These 10 Products for $30 or Less.”

9. Cable

Instead of signing up for the most expensive plan, try basic cable. Or even better, cut cable altogether and go for much cheaper alternatives, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.

For more on watching TV on a budget, check out “How to Cut the Cable TV Cord in 2018.”

10. Gym memberships

Being healthy and fit is important, but spending way too much money to reach your fitness goals makes no sense.

Ditch the gym and search for inexpensive or free activities at your community recreation center instead. Or try the great outdoors; a little fresh air won’t hurt.

The key is to know when to spend, and when to reel it in. As we wrote in “DIY Fitness: 10 Tips to Get in Shape Without the Gym“:

Do you really need the latest, most stylish workout clothes, when sweats and a T-shirt will do just fine? However, if you’re incorporating running into your DIY workout, make sure you don’t skimp on the shoes.

11. Housing

It is easy to drastically underestimate the monthly costs associated with that new home or apartment.

Before you apply for a mortgage or lease, use an affordability calculator to gauge what you can realistically contribute toward housing expenses each month.

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