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Money leaks that may be draining your finances

Posted July 17, 2013 in Advice Column, Downtown

At Village, we have worked to build trusting relationships with our members, and we consider it our job to provide financial guidance and education so our members’ money works better and harder them.

During the years, I’ve identified four major ways people can take control of their finances and save sometimes hundreds of dollars each month:

•    Overpaying your Smartphone. In a 2011 study, found that Americans overpay their wireless plans by $336 a year simply because they incorrectly estimate how many minutes, text messages and megabytes of data they need. If you find that the plan you’re paying for hardly reflects the plan you have, it’s time to speak to your provider about a new arrangement.

•    Hidden fees. Daily Finance estimates that hidden charges on your monthly bills could cost you an extra $350 per year. Oftentimes these costs are due to charges that have increased gradually, just a few dollars each month. The easiest way to fight this leak is to call the company directly. If you notice your bill going up without clear communication as to why, or with charges that you didn’t approve, let them know that you’ve noticed and you’d like to return to the rate you agreed upon.

•    Paying bills on autopilot. A lot of people finance a car and just stick with that loan until they pay off the car, or get a credit card in college and never look for a better deal. It’s always a good idea to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal. While I certainly understand that rates aren’t everything, I also see way too many people who set their bills on autopilot and never reevaluate their situation.

•    Unconscious spending. This is probably the largest budget leak I see — buying without thinking about what you’re spending. If you dine out for lunch every day or grab a latte on the way to work, consider cutting back to twice a week and brown bagging it or bringing coffee from home. Cutting out a $7 lunch and $4 latte twice per week will save you more than $1,100 per year.

Information from and provided by Debbie White, CEO of Village Credit Union, 601 E. Court Ave., 243-4400,

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