Unnecessary Expenses
in a Family Budget

Are You Guilty of These Budget Busting No-Nos?

It pays to keep an eye out for unnecessary expenses when working with your family budget and personal budgeting categories. You're probably already aware of many of them needless expenditures. That doesn't mean, however, that everyone is doing a great job of avoiding them.

This Kiplinger post on unnecessary expenses is a nice reminder. Here are my top 5 favorites (out of their 10).

  • Overdraft fees. There are at least 2 ways to fix this. If you are not good at tracking your balance and tend to run it on the low side, then sign up for automatic transfers between a savings account and your checking account. They have to be at the same bank but it's usually free - and beats that $25 or so charge for an overdraft (or 3).
  • ATM fees. If you are going to be hitting the ATM frequently, how many ATMs a bank has that you can use free of charge should be one of the things you consider when you choose a bank. That doesn't mean that you have to go with a mega-bank. You can get the same ATM network options through smaller banks that are members of a larger network. Just be sure it matches where you will be when you need cash.
  • Coin counting machine fees. This is a great lesson for kids in (almost) hidden charges. Kids can usually spot these machines across the store and may even want to bring their piggy bank in to get dollars for their coins. But the cost can be high - like 10% high. Teaching kids about money can also mean teaching them how to hold on to it and this is an easy example of that.
  • Pet care. People love their pets. There are plenty of businesses starting and making great money because of it. Doggy day care, pooper scoopers...you name it. These services can charge quite a bit. Consider instead switching off duties with neighbors - or even giving the job to a kid that wants to make money.
  • Water. You are driving through McDonald's and want a water. You can get it in a cup for free or pay at least $1 to get the bottle. Lots of people opt for the bottle. And not just at the drive-thru. Plenty of people are opting to drink bottled water at home and paying the price. Just say no - and teach your kids to do the same.

These are also great tips to use when teaching your teens money skills. Being able to understand expenses and fees that they can experience in daily life - and more importantly, how to avoid them - is critical to their financial success.