How You’re Wasting Money, Or 10 Ways Poor People Get Screwed

saving money
Spending a little extra up front can go a long way.

My friend Cecilia sat me down at breakfast – a breakfast she paid for – and said, “You have to stop talking about how poor you are in front of the kid. It’s going to affect her mindset.” It isn’t that I hadn’t thought the same thing to myself, but more that I am so constantly overwhelmed by how expensive life in New York is that I find myself talking about how poor I am as frequently as homeless people ask for change. Of course, you don’t have to live in an overpriced metropolis to know what saying “no” when your child asks if you can go out to dinner feels like or to feel like no matter how hard you work, you’re struggling to make ends meet. What Cecilia made me realize at breakfast that day is, it’s not that I’m poor, it’s that I’m broke. I make okay money, but it goes so quickly on basics.

But here’s something interesting, something I think all of us who feel pinched in the purse instinctively know but feel helpless to fight: many of the things we do to try to save money actually cost us more money in the long run. Here are my versions of these ten examples of things you do to save money that end up costing you more, courtesy of Lifehacker. I do 8 out of 10 of these things on a regular basis and have done 9 out of 10 at least once, so I can tell you with great assurance that doing these sorts of things will backfire. The question is, can you afford not to?

  • Not having health insurance/avoiding the doctor 1 of 10
    Not having health insurance/avoiding the doctor
    I am one of the many millions of Americans without health insurance. When I was married, I had health insurance and did not go to the dentist for ten years. Why? I don't know. Because I'm an idiot. (And my teeth, it turns out, were fine.) I go to the dentist every six months now and I pay out of pocket. I had a pinched nerve in the spring and had to visit the emergency room. I'm still trying to pay that bill. Low-cost health insurance may not offer great coverage, but it's probably better than no coverage in the long run.
    Photo via Flickr
  • Buying on credit 2 of 10
    Buying on credit
    Lifehacker explains just how easy it is to misuse store credit cards, each of us having the potential to become "a credit card revolver who is paying hefty interest charges." Saving that 10% at the register can cost you in the end.
    Photo via Flickr
  • Doing your own taxes 3 of 10
    Doing your own taxes
    I used to do my own taxes (when I was very young and single and during my marriage as well). Not only was I told our taxes were done wrong on more than one occasion, resulting in us owing more than we thought we did, I want to emphasize Lifehacker's more important point that hiring an accountant for a few hundred bucks will get you maximized deductions and more money in return.
    Photo via Flickr
  • Not having a retirement or savings account 4 of 10
    Not having a retirement or savings account
    To quote Whitney Houston, "I have nothing." I don't have a 401K, I don't have a savings account and I don't have an "emergency fund." Lifehacker says it's essential to have one, but that a 401K or similar savings plan is even more important, "although how anyone does that in this dire economy, with pay raises not meeting inflation and massive unemployment, is something of a miracle."
    Photo via Flickr
  • Buying cheap sh*t 5 of 10
    Buying cheap sh*t
    We've all done this. "Buy cheap, buy twice," Lifehacker says. SO TRUE. I already have to buy a new vacuum to replace the one I bought in April because it's broken. I was trying to save by spending less on a cheaper unit. #suckingfail Need I say anything about Payless Shoes?
    Photo via Flickr
  • Not feeding the meter 6 of 10
    Not feeding the meter
    I am so guilty of this. "I'll be right back!" Yes, I will be right back, with a ticket on my windshield. Take it from one who knows: get enough tickets and your car gets towed. That can cost you over $1000. Keep a roll of quarters handy. I've learned my lesson.
    Photo via Flickr
  • Going bogo 7 of 10
    Going bogo
    My friend Jenny and I used to laugh with delight when it was BoGo time at Payless. And then we each had two sh*tty pairs of shoes. Hooray?
  • Driving around for gas/cigs 8 of 10
    Driving around for gas/cigs
    Lifehacker explains exactly why mathematically you lose money driving around for gas, but I'll just add that I know lots of people who drive to local Indian Reservations to buy cigarettes, and here's why you're losing money there in the long run: cancer treatment is expensive. Especially if you don't have health insurance.
    Photo via Flickr
  • Not taking care of your car 9 of 10
    Not taking care of your car
    Guys! This is the one thing on this list I have never done! So proud right now. Get that oil change! Lifehacker says, "Take care of your car, and it will take care of you."
    Photo via Flickr
  • Stocking up on groceries that rot in your fridge 10 of 10
    Stocking up on groceries that rot in your fridge
    Lifehacker describes this category as "Buying Food in Bulk and Then Throwing Half of It Away," which is probably the suburban version of what happens to us urban dwellers all the time. You spend $100 at the grocery store but eat out 3 days that week. When you're ready to cook the green beans you purchased, they're covered in mold. It's called meal planning! (And I'm terrible at it.)
    Photo via Flickr

Main photo via Flickr.


Article Posted 5 years Ago

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