There are SO many sneaky little expenses that are causing your money to slip out of your budget like water!
WITHOUT YOU EVEN NOTICING!
We call these expenses ‘money leaks’ and I see this all the time with my clients. Subscriptions and fees that have been long forgotten, expenses that are not paid regularly, variable costs that are just adding up without notice, there are SO MANY THINGS that we’re dealing with when it comes to our money.
Today, we’re going to be getting into detail with all of this. I’m going to talk about why budget leaks happen, how to find the leaks in your own budget, AND how to fix it!
What are Money Leaks?
Money leaks are those sneaky little expenses that you don’t even notice are sucking your accounts dry!
They happen for a myriad of different reasons, but for most of us, it’s because we have a lot on our mind. We don’t have time to comb over every little thing. We don’t have the memory capacity to keep every single expense at the forefront of our minds. That’s OK. We don’t have to keep everything on the perfect track at all times. But, we DO need to make being aware of these things a priority. Take a little bit of time now, so it doesn’t cause us a HUGE headache later.
Another reason these leaks happen is that we pay for convenience. Not that it’s always a bad thing, but sometimes we run into situations where we’re in a routine that we keep running even though it no longer serves us, or maybe never did.
Again, we need to be aware of what those routines are so that we know we’re actually making a conscious CHOICE to stick with them rather than have them happening in the background because it’s what happened before.
So let’s talk about the different types of ‘leaks’ that can happen in your budget, and what you can do about them.
Types of Money leaks:
Money Leak Number 1: Forgotten Fees
Auto-renewing subscriptions are a really good example of this type of money leak. Regardless of if they’re paid monthly, quarterly, or yearly it’s easy to sign up for some mystery subscription and then never think about it again.
As an example, I have a charge for $4.51 that comes out every month. It’s labelled ‘Apple iTunes’ which is totally weird because I haven’t bought anything from iTunes in YEARS. 2 Months ago, that fee suddenly jumped to a monthly $14.10
Now, because I have a good understanding of my accounts, I know that this $4.51 fee is my extra iCloud storage, and the extra $9.59 is my new mealime subscription.
However, I could have EASILY forgotten I even subscribed to anything. In fact, even though I KNEW what this was for, when I saw it, I still kind of forgot and my heart skipped a little because of that big amount change. Seriously apple, why doesn’t this charge say I bought it from the App store?!
How do you Fix Forgotten Fees?
LOOK AT YOUR STATEMENTS.
I know, it seems so simple but not a lot of people actually take the time to do this. It’s SUPER IMPORTANT. Just take 10 minutes, once a month, and make sure you KNOW what every single expense is on that pdf. Those account fees, and extra charges, KNOW what they’re for and KNOW that YOU made the choice to pay for them.
Another thing that really helps, is when you’re signing up for a subscription, especially if it’s one that renews at a weird time, (like once a year or quarter) make a note in your calendar. Put a reminder a few weeks before it’s due to renew, and just check-in with yourself whether you ACTUALLY want to keep using the service. That way, you’re not just being reactive by noticing it on your statement after it’s too late to cancel what you just paid for.
Money Leak Number 2: Random Expenses
Now, this one is more of an expense type, not necessarily a money leak, but it CAN become a money leak if you forget to budget for these types of expenses.
Things like gifts, or car repairs, anything that seems to come up super randomly. If we forget to actually prepare for these types of expenses, over time, they can become a HUGE money pit. I see this all the time, (and totally went through it myself), where every month you’re going along fine, you have a great money system but then UGH it’s suddenly November and there are 3 birthdays you have to buy for. Then after that it’s Christmas and you have gifts to buy, and maybe you prepared a little bit, but then you got a gift from a coworker and didn’t get anything for them and now you have to buy something extra. Then it’s your partners birthday at the end of the month, and your anniversary is after that, then there’s that annual license fee that’s due by the end of January, by the time you have any breathing room it’s already February and that’s Valentine’s Day and you start all over.
Imagine if your car broke down during all of that. Or some emergency happened with your family and you had to buy a plane ticket to go and see them. All of those little extra expenses leaking out of your budget, they don’t seem like a big deal until they do. Until they suddenly MATTER because you have nothing left.
How to Fix Random Expenses:
Stop those leaks by preparing for all that you can. KNOW and CALCULATE in advance all the things that you have to pay. No, you won’t know exactly what emergency or extra thing will come up, but fill in the things that you DO know.
You know when the birthdays and holidays are. How much do you generally spend?
You know when the license fee is due, how much is that fee?
Calculate how much you need to save for all of these things IN ADVANCE so they’re actually planned into your spending. Instead of being leaked out as they come up, you want to actually control that spending. So it doesn’t mess up the rest of your plan!
Money Leak Number 3: High Variable Spending
How much do you spend on food? Do you know?
How much do you spend on entertainment and going out? Are you keeping track?
The expenses in your budget that are costing you the MOST, are often things that you take for granted.
You’re going to notice if your cell phone bill is high. You’re going to notice if your heating bill is astronomical. But do you ever notice how many times you swipe your debit card for drinks with a friend? Or going to the movies with your partner? How many times you go to the grocery store, or how much money you spend on snacks?
All of these things are part of our routine. And not often do we take a look at them in bulk lump sums to realize how much we’re ACTUALLY spending. If you haven’t made a budget, or ever tracked any of this information, you DON’T know. And that means, this money could be pouring out of your accounts like a waterfall.
How to Fix High Variable Spending:
Make sure you have an actual understanding of how much these things are costing you. Once you realize how much you’re actually spending, you’ll be able to better assess whether that money is being well spent. If it’s meeting your needs and aligns with your values. If it doesn’t, it will be a wake up call to change.
Tally up all your expenses for the last 3 months. Categorize them into buckets like ‘eating out’, ‘groceries’, ‘bills’, whatever, just to see what the pattern is. If you’re happy with your spending, great. Keep that number and find a way to keep it on track. (Something like taking out a certain amount of cash, or keeping a certain debit card only for those expenses)
If you’re NOT happy with that number, there is your money leak. Find a way to reallocate that spending to something that you actually value. Sometimes we keep things going because it’s part of our routine, or it’s convenient, and we’ll look at our budget and think ‘wow, I’ll never be able to save ____ amount, because I have nothing to use’ but then when we actually analyze, there are things that totally are not aligning with our values.
If you really want to save that ____ amount, then take a look at these things. You could very well find a way to afford it just with the money you already have!
Let me know down below, do you have anything leaking out of your account? What do you want me to make a post about next? I’m always looking for new ideas from my audience!