Calculator and Checkbook

This isn’t a story about how I blew $30,000 one weekend in Las Vegas, or sports betting.  It’s about the slow leaks in our lives that drain money steadily but surely. I took a look back at the last ten years of my life and documented the biggest money leaks.  Many of these were due to simple laziness on my part.  I share them with you today.  Do any apply to you?

These are my biggest money leaks over the last ten years:

1. Using COBRA instead of private health insurance

When I quit my corporate job, I went on to COBRA health care without a second thought.  This was supposed to be a benefit, right?  I actually dreaded the day when COBRA would run out.

But after it ran out, I was forced to shop for private insurance. I found out that COBRA was actually really expensive!  I was paying $539 per month for the first year and $472 per month the second year.  With private insurance and now ACA insurance, I pay $300/month!  Total loss = $3900.

2. Not shopping for car insurance

I find shopping for insurance is about as exciting as watching paint dry, so I never did it. Only after I moved to a different city and was forced to get new car insurance did I realize how much I was overpaying. Doh! Total loss = $3000

3. Not investing enough

notepadIts easy to beat yourself up in hindsight about investing.  Yes, I do have a diversified portfolio now, but I had way too much money in cash for a long time.  During the crash of 2008, I was very thankful for NOT having so much money in the stock market, but now it looks kind of dumb.  Even if I had put that money in conservative bonds, I would have made thousands of dollars on it. Total loss = $5000

4. Paying too much for my home mortgage loan

My home mortgage interest rate was 5.2% per year.  Had I refinanced earlier, I could have saved a lot. But my parents had an even better idea.  They were looking for a safe place to put their retirement money, and proposed the idea of loaning the money to me.  So now, instead of paying a bank, I pay my parents.  I get a great interest rate, and they get way better interest rate than any bank can give.  If only we had thought of this years ago! Total loss = $10,000

5.  Having cable TV for too long

Cable TV RemoteMy cable TV bill was pretty reasonable for a while, after I moved to the East Coast, my cable TV bill went up big time.  I tolerated it for a year, but then when they raised it over 10%, I said “enough is enough” and experimented with free broadcast TV.  After I did that, I realized I should have dumped cable a long time ago. Total loss = $1100

6.  Having a land line for too long

Of course, I got rid of my land line a while ago, but I probably had it for a few years longer than I needed to.  It was only $20 per month.  I kept it “just in case”, and because I was too lazy to cancel it.  But really all I used it for was to tell telemarketers not to call me anymore. Total loss = $480

7. Not buying generic / sale items at the grocery store

I don’t buy many groceries, or else this figure would be much higher. Out of simple laziness, I would always buy my favorite name brands at the grocery store, when the generic is often the exact same thing. Total loss = $700

8. Having an expensive-to-maintain car

BMWYes, BMW’s are nice and fun to drive, but when it comes to repairs, you’d better have your wallet ready.  I had my cooling system konk out on the freeway, costing a fortune.  I had a nagging engine oil leak. I have James Bond-esque runflat tires that cost $200 each to replace.  I figure I paid five grand more in car repair costs than what a more reasonable car would have cost.  I could have had a kickass vacation to Bavaria for that much money. Total loss = $5000

9. Buying CDs

CDsI switched to buying MP3 music a while ago, but I probably should have switched sooner.  Now, I’m ripping all of my CDs to my hard drive and realizing that in most cases I only like a small number of songs on each CD.  I could have paid only a few bucks for the one or two songs I liked vs. $12 for the whole CD. Total loss = hundreds of dollars

10. Buying crap I didn’t need

Punching BagI am pretty good about not spending money on frivolous stuff, but I could always do better. I think we could all benefit by asking “do I really need this badly?” before buying things.  My biggest culprits were sports/exercise equipment, clothing, and music equipment. I recently cleaned out my closet and found several expensive items that I had never worn, not even once!! Total loss = hundreds of dollars

So, there you have it!  I tallied over $30,000 in wasted money over the past decade due to laziness and not shopping for better deals, or not canceling services that I didn’t need.  What kind of things do you wish you hadn’t spent money on over the past ten years?  What did I miss? – Brian
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