The average life of a personal finance blog is pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Most bloggers can make it past the first two months without burning out/giving up, but many will stop way before they hit their first anniversary. Then you have the hustlers that make it to years 2 and 3 and even 4, putting them in the top 5% of all bloggers, and anyone who makes it past year 5 is just a total bad-ass when it comes down to it (ah thank you).
After bad-assity there’s just one last level – granddaddy’hood. The bloggers who have been sharing their thoughts for almost a decade on money, and who really pioneered our little sliver of the online world here. Those like J.D. from Get Rich Slowly, Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar, Flexo/Luke from Consumerism Commentary, and one of my all-time favorites, FMF from Free Money Finance.
Which brings me to the point of today’s history lesson: FMF is retiring from blogging after 9+ solid years :( A day that eventually comes for all of us, but one you still hate to see when they’ve been in your life for literally a decade. And while FMF is in the small minority of those blogs left who did not sell his site for millions of dollars (he actually gives all his blog $$ to charity!), he’s still helped hundreds of thousands of people over his time online and he will be surely missed.
So in an attempt to help carry on his words today, I thought we’d riff on one of his last posts on the 10 things Americans waste money on. Which he actually took from Dave Ramsey it looks like, and now J. Money will be stealing too ;) (We’re all a happy incestuous family online, what can I say?)
Here are the 10 things people apparently waste money on:
- Credit card interest
- Deal websites
- ATM fees
- Overdraft fees
- Speedy shipping
- Designer baby clothes
- Unused gym memberships
- Premium cable packages
- Daily coffee trips
And here are my personal thoughts on them:
Credit Card Interest — Agreed, big fat waste of beautiful cashola. And we’ve all gone through our stages of paying this nonsense, haven’t we? Some are still in the middle of it, but as long as you’re diligently working to shed it off forever there’s no need to give you a hard time about it here. We all know it’s dumb, but it’s even dumb & dumberer to never do anything about it. So keep fighting the good fight! (Was that a good movie btw?)
Deal Websites — I’m reminded of what my friend Frugalwoods likes to say about this stuff: “Nothing’s gonna save as much money as simply not buying anything at all.” It’s one thing to shop for stuff on sale that you were already going to buy anyways, but who honestly stops there and never pulls the trigger on other things they now all of a sudden “need” and want too? I gave up on these sites two years after Groupon first came around as I could no longer trust myself to responsibly participate anymore. And my wallet’s loved me ever since.
Appetizers — Appetizers are so good!!! Sometimes more than the actual meals! :) But I get that it does add a hefty amount to the total in the end, so I typically (maybe 90% of the time?) avoid them as well. The other 10% is usually due to ordering appetizers *instead* of a main course to not only save money but get something scrumptious. But that’s usually when I’m drunk and/or not starving which is like every time I’m at a restaurant (the starving part, not the drunk part).
ATM Fees — Do people still pay these? I’ve been so out of the loop since sticking to USAA over a decade ago that I honestly couldn’t even tell you what these nasty ATMs charge anymore. USAA reimburses you for all of it automatically so I haven’t paid an ATM fee since I was a teenager… And believe me – I’ve even tested it in less than savory places too where taking out cash (in ones) costs a hefty premium at certain locales, if you know what I’m saying ;)
Overdraft Fees — The worst. Not only do you get charged for not managing your money well in these cases, but it also usually means you’re OUT of money too! So a double whammy right upside your wallet. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of mess-ups too, but usually a quick call into customer service does the trick in cleaning up any dirty charges. It becomes a problem when you make this stuff a habit.
Speedy Shipping — I don’t really have a problem with this if you rock one of those Amazon-like deals and do most your shopping there through the year (well worth the convenience surcharge in my opinion), but for one-offs I never see the point. Unless you’re ordering medicine or waiting ’til the last second to go Christmas shopping, I really don’t think waiting a few extra days is going to kill you. But hey – if you have the money and want the niceties in life, why not?
Designer Baby Clothes — HAH! Are they vomit/poop/spill proof? And grow every two weeks just like your baby? If so, sign me up! That’s miracle cloth right there…
Unused Gym Memberships — Isn’t “unused” anything a waste of money? This reminds me of an article I just read though on how out of all the things you can “sink” your money into, gym memberships aren’t the worst. Because at least you try and force yourself to then go since you already spent the money on it, vs, say, other things you’ve purchased and never use. If you have to waste your money on something, might as well be something that has the potential to make you healthier a few times a year!
Premium cable packages — Ummm…. let’s just move along here…
Daily Coffee Trips — Ummm…. let’s just move along here too ;)
While it does seem we Americans (and, really, all people in general) like to blow money on stuff, it’s important to keep in mind that we all have our different priorities in life. What one person might “waste” money on (say, like coffee shop visiting every week), another might find it important to them and thus build it into their budget. *Ahem*
Now of course half that list up there really is wasted money, like with the fees and interest charges and what not, but as my friend Paula Pant likes to say, you can afford *anything* just not *everything*. You get into trouble when you forget to cut out the stupid crap in your life so you have room for the awesome crap. Unfortunately there are rules with math…
How about you guys? Which are your Achilles’ heels up there? What would you add to the list? I thought for sure lottery tickets would have made it, but maybe people have wised up? Or they include it into their “entertainment” budget once and for all like I do? I never expect to win anything, but it’s a nice 30 seconds of dreaming before you scratch away that dollar :)
We’ll miss you Free Money Finance! Farewell!
[Photo cred: Alan Cleaver]