Hey, guys. It’s Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week’s video is brought to you by Wealthsimple. And if I sound a little under the weather, it’s because I’m just getting over the flu, and it’s also depression in weather form outside. So you know, I’m perhaps a little bit less energetic and I usually am. Anyway, this week, we wanted to talk about all of the little ways that you’re probably wasting or losing money without even realizing it. Whether it’s the things you don’t do, the things you forget to do, or the things you do too much, there are so many ways that we cheat ourselves out of money that could and should be ours.
So let’s jump right into it with the six ways you’re losing money without even realizing it, and how to stop the bleeding. Number one is paying sneaky bank fees. Something that many people don’t realize is that with any given bank that you might be using, you are often paying money just for the privilege of storing your money with that bank. Everything from having too low of a balance to using checks to overdrafting to transferring money can ping you with fees. And doing something like overdrafting multiple times in a day, which is extremely easy to do without even realizing it, can lead you to rack up hundreds of dollars in fees before you even realize what’s happening. Erin just did a great show on all the sneaky ways that banks might be taking money from you, and we’ll link you to that in the description. But the point is, you need to be aware of every dollar that you’re spending and being charged when it comes to your bank.
Be on the lookout for fees, and remember that you can always negotiate them. And even if you don’t get a given fee waived, like when you maybe overdrafted before you realized your account balance was low, it’s always good to ask. There are also modern digital banks that get rid of all of the fees that make having a checking account in particular so annoying. Chime is a great one that you guys could check out. We’ll link you to it below. No matter what banking decision you make, though, remember that your goal should always be to not pay money just to store money. There’s almost always a better way to be banking. Number two is not thinking in terms of opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is an economics term, and it basically means a benefit that a person could have received but gave up to take another course of action. Stated differently, an opportunity cost represents an alternative given up when a decision is made.
Often, the decision that looks cheap on its surface can mean giving up something very valuable that you could have had. For instance, if you save money by not investing in a particular skill– like paying for education, software, online courses, et cetera– you may be effectively losing money by foregoing the employment opportunities that could have opened up with that new skill. Another example is staying in a lower paying job when it’s become clear that you’re not going to get a promotion that leads you to get what you’re worth on the market. It can be the more comfortable and low risk choice, but you’re forgoing the opportunity to make more money and learn something new at a new job.
If you think that you might be underpaid, for example, you can look on sites like Glassdoor or Salary.com to figure out what is the appropriate amount that you really should be earning at any given job. And if you’ve been waffling about whether to take a specific course or even potentially go to grad school, do detailed research on what the average increase in salary from gaining those skills or degrees tends to be. It’s not perfect, but it will give you a really good idea of what the real opportunity cost there is. The point is, thinking not just in terms of raw upfront cost, but in how any given decision will benefit you in the longer term is crucial. You should always be thinking in terms of your future self. But you should also be thinking in terms of opportunities that may not seem immediately available to you in the present moment. Unless you force yourself to think outside of your current limitations in things like your career, your finances, or even your personal life, you’re not likely to advance very far in any of those fields. Number three is being afraid of investing.
One of the things we talk about most frequently here on TFD is the importance of investing, especially while you’re young. Basically, there is a thing called an investment horizon. And that’s essentially the amount of time that your money has to grow and accrue all of that sweet, sweet compound interest in the meantime. Young people often tend to feel that they’re exempt from investing, because A, they might not have enough money that they feel like they can get started, and B, they always feel like they’ll just get to it later. But every day that you wait to start investing, even just a few dollars at a time, is costing you enormously in how much time that money has to grow. Going back to opportunity cost, we tend to think of investment as always inherently super risky, and that keeping our money just sitting in a savings account is by default the safe choice. But it’s very much not the safe option when it comes to that money’s potential value. Keeping your non-emergency funds savings in a basic savings account is essentially the only surefire way to make sure that it will never really grow or work for you over time. And if you’re looking for a way to invest that’s easy, low risk, and open to any income, a great option to check out is Wealthsimple. Wealthsimple is an online investing service that you can start using with literally just $1.
And they’ll build you a custom portfolio to fit your personal needs, goals, and timeline. Just answer a few simple questions about your financial goals, and they’ll manage it for you on autopilot. Think of it like the Roomba of investing. Just set it, forget it, and let it go to work in the background. They even offer retirement accounts like Roth IRAs that have huge tax benefits. And saving for retirement should be your first investment stop.
You can invest up to your first $5,000 with them with no management fees whatsoever. Plus, TFD viewers get a special cash bonus for getting started. Check them out at wealthsimple.com/tfd or use the link in our description. And remember, you can get started with literally just $1. So no excuses. Number four is not using the right credit card for your life. Something a lot of people don’t understand is that using the right credit card is about a lot more than just building your credit and having access to funds earlier in the month. Everything from points to miles to cash back makes the right credit card super useful for things that you would otherwise be paying for totally out of pocket, such as airline tickets. I’m someone who flies a lot, so I almost exclusively use my Delta AmEx SkyMiles card, which I run all of my monthly bills through, so that I’m getting tons and tons of miles racked up for money that I was already spending. And while you do have to be careful when it comes to airline cards– i.e. some of them are really limiting when it comes to things like blackout dates– if you learn to use them properly, they can save you thousands of dollars on airline tickets. But even if you’re not someone who flies a lot, there are tons of great options out there for rewards cards for whatever you might actually have a use for. We’ll link you to a great roundup in the description for the best reward cards for different lifestyles. Just make sure to read the fine print before you sign. And remember, if you don’t yet qualify for a really high value rewards card, you can always get a more basic card and work your way up to it. It actually doesn’t take as long as you would think.
A TFD members partner wanted the Delta SkyMiles AmEx initially, but couldn’t qualify for it. So he got a more entry level card, and religiously built his credit for about a year until he qualified for the entry level SkyMiles card. And only a few years later, he already has the Platinum 1, which gives him the highest rewards. He flies a ton for his career, so it’s super useful to him and saves him a lot. Wherever you currently are with your credit, remember that the healthiest way to see credit cards is as a convenient way to live the life you already want to live in a more cost efficient and effective way. It’s not just about building your credit score. It’s also about using them to your advantage to save money. Number five is letting things run continuously. Everything from lighting to heating and AC to running the water while you’re brushing your teeth or taking super long showers– of which I am guilty on both counts– is costing you money for no reason.
There’s a reason that most of our dads spend about half of their waking hours walking around the house turning down thermostats and turning off lights and mumbling about how, when you can pay the bills you can keep the house as hot as you want. Well, guess what, you literally do pay the bills now. And it’s time to imitate your dad in this respect. We all know that we should be creating a low consumption and energy efficient household. But we’d probably be surprised at how much not doing that can cost us in raw dollar amounts. It’s literally for many people in the hundreds of dollars a year. An easy way to get over these bad habits and start approaching your home life in a more measured way is to start setting month long challenges for yourself. For one month, make a conscious effort to only use exactly what you need. That means no lights on in rooms that you’re not in, not running more water than you need when doing things like brushing your teeth, and it means keeping your heating and AC both at a pretty mild temperature, and learning to put on some damn socks. Sorry, that’s my dad talking again. And if you’re in a warmer month or climate, that means learning to use as little AC as possible. I lived in a country where AC is not really a thing for several years, and it taught me that your brain adjusts pretty quickly to the idea of, I’m just going to be kind of hot when it’s hot outside, and that’s just what life is like. I’m not saying you need to get rid of AC altogether, but perhaps you could learn to not keep things at a temperature where ice cream stays solid when you leave it out on your desk. And do this month long energy challenge with a buddy, so that you guys can hold each other accountable, and see how low you can get your bills down. A fun study showed that when neighbors had their energy consumption listed publicly, they actually consumed way less. When it comes to not wasting on basic utilities, shame actually seems to be the most effective thing. Number six is not asking for a raise. Recently on the three minute guide, Erin broke down how to ask for more money at any job.
And while I can’t do as thorough a job as she can with the topic, because she’s always been weirdly good at negotiating and she has a lot more useful tips than I do, I can say that it’s an incredibly important concept to reiterate. Every time you don’t negotiate, don’t ask for a raise, or don’t raise your rates on any contracted work, you are actively cheating yourself out of money. Negotiating isn’t just acceptable, it’s what’s expected out of any professional in a work environment. It actually looks weirder if you don’t negotiate. And it’s not just the low opening salary or rate that hurts you when you don’t push back. It can be very damaging to get in a pattern of low balling yourself, because it also affects what you can ask for in your next position, as well as the starting point from which you are given raises for as long as you’re at that employer. Thinking of negotiation in concrete terms of how much money you are losing by not doing it is a lot more effective than thinking about it as some sort of like abstract extra money that you’re getting on top of your salary. You’re costing yourself by keeping quiet.
Remember that every dollar that you waste or miss out on is a dollar that you could be doing something so, so valuable with, like investing in your future. Get started today with Wealthsimple at the link in our description, and get a cash bonus just for being a TFD viewer. As always, guys, , and don’t forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Bye.