Yesterday, I did my groceries after work. When I got back, I was quite tired. So, as is the routine in our house, I plonked all the groceries in the kitchen and went to freshen up, while the better half sorted it all out. Later, while cooking though, I could not find any chicken stock. I could have sworn I had got some. So I checked with the better half if he put it in some different location, instead of its regular place in the pantry. He replied that there was no chicken stock in the groceries. So, I fished out the grocery bill and we went over it together to find that several other items were missing. I had forgotten to pickup one of the grocery bags! Generally, I keep a well stocked pantry and if I was not completely out of chicken stock (which happens very rarely), I would probably not have realized that one of the grocery bags was missing! The total of all the items in that bag was a little over eight dollars and I would not have missed any of the other items until much later in the week, at which point I would have probably just brushed it off, thinking I forgot to pick those things up! Which made me wonder, how many times in the past might I have forgotten a bag of groceries and never realized it? Almost all the time, I do the groceries and the better half sorts it out – so, we just don’t realize if something is missing unless it is something we need to use right away. Of course, I called the grocery store immediately and today, on my way home I picked up my “missing” bag, but it got me thinking of all the silly mistakes we make that take a bite out of our wallets.
Too much speeding
It took me a long while (and two speeding tickets) to get this one, but speeding is probably one of the stupidest mistakes that drains out the wallet. For one, speeding tickets and/or defensive driving classes are way too expensive and are completely unnecessary expenditure. And second, when you drive too fast, the gas mileage goes down. So, overall, speeding can put a tiny little dent in the wallet.
Not paying attention while filling gas and getting stuck with a car wash
I can think of at least once when I had to wash my car because I hit “yes” for the car wash charge without completely reading the prompt. Every gas station is a little different from the other, and I can swear that there is one on the way between work and home that is out to get me. They have sorted the order in which the questions are asked compared to other gas stations – and in the place where the other gas stations ask me for a receipt, this one asks me for a car wash. I try to avoid this gas station whenever possible, and in the event that I have to get gas there, I am very wary of their prompts.
Procrastinating buying a gift
Last week I went to a friend’s house warming party. I had the invite for the party several weeks in advance. I also knew what my friend really wanted and had a discount coupon for ‘Bed, Bath and Beyond’ so I could get the gift she liked and still stay within my budget. But I kept procrastinating. Finally, on the day of the party, the better half and I rushed to a home depot on the way to her place and bought a gift card. It cost us at least 1.5 times what it would have to buy a more personal gift that I know my friend would have appreciated more!
Ignorance about the fine print of medical insurance policies
Even thinking about this makes me cringe! When I started working, the better half and I compared and contrasted our medical insurance policies and determined that the one offered by my company was better. So, he cancelled the one at his work place and we got family coverage from my work place. Only later, we realized that the deductibles and out of pocket maximum amount was the ‘family total’, even if only one person uses the benefits. Until now we have never really used medical insurance and would not even have bothered about this – but this year, one of us has had to use it quite regularly. By keeping separate insurance policies, our threshold for deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums would have been half of what we have to pay now. Before the year is over, I suspect we will have paid $500 more than we would have, if only we had paid a little more attention to detail
What my colleague is going through is worse! She recently had to be hospitalized overnight for a surgery. What she did not realize is that the insurance policy required her to “pre-qualify” via a phone call before hospitalization! With the pre-qualification, the insurance would have paid for 90% coverage, but without it, it only provides 50% coverage! The difference is in thousands of dollars! It’s nasty to see her haggling with the insurance agents and figuring out the “appeals” process, while she should be resting and recovering from her surgery!
No matter how careful we are, there are little traps out there that suck out the money. Some, like the insurance and the car wash, are intentional scams to grab your money. Others are just stupid mistakes that we commit because we are too tired or just don’t know better. Whichever it is, it can cause a serious dent to the wallet over time. All we can do is watch out, learn from the mistakes and try to avoid as many of these as possible in the future.