How to plug your spend­ing leaks


IT’S the lit­tle things that get missed when try­ing to work out how your money dis­ap­pears.

Hun­dreds of dol­lars can leak from purses and wal­lets to pay for small reg­u­lar items, fi­nance spe­cial­ists say, but there are ways to stop the flow.

It’s now eas­ier to plug money leaks as Aus­tralia trans­forms to a cash­less so­ci­ety, with rapid growth of mi­cro­pay­ments on credit cards and debit cards leav­ing a trail of al­most all our spend­ing. But tap-and-go can also cre­ate more temptation.

Thalia Stan­ley Group di­rec­tor Mar­ion Mays, be­low, said com­mon small costs that caught out con­sumers in­cluded lunches, snacks and drinks, mem­ber­ships and re­cur­ring di­rect deb­its, mag­a­zines and chemist items such as panty­hose or make-up wipes.

“Peo­ple are of­ten pay­ing dou­ble or triple the price. They are time-poor and not or­gan­ised and buy on the fly,” she said.

“With our clients, part of the dis­ci­pline we set up is they pop ev­ery­thing on to a credit card.”

Then, once a month, spend a few min­utes run­ning through the lat­est state­ment, high­light­ing all small ex­penses.

Ms Mays said this self­aware­ness ex­er­cise made peo­ple re­alise that $3 here and $5 there could add up to hun­dreds of dol­lars a month.

One client dis­cov­ered they were spend­ing $100 a month on bot­tled water. An­other worked out that ev­ery day his lunch, snacks and trans­port were $50.

“It sounds re­ally sim­plis­tic but it’s so pow­er­ful. Peo­ple get it for the first time that $400 a month times 12 months is al­most $5000 a year.”

MyBud­get di­rec­tor Tammy Bar­ton said cash­less pay­ments were eas­ier to track, “but it’s also eas­ier to just spend the money be­cause you are tap­ping your card and go­ing”.

“Have a look at your over­spend­ing trig­gers – they are dif­fer­ent for ev­ery per­son,” she said. “For some peo­ple it may be clothes shop­ping, for oth­ers, it’s par­ty­ing or buy­ing gad­gets.

“When peo­ple see where they are spend­ing their money, it’s like the clouds have lifted.”

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