7 signs you are spending more money than you need to

Here are 7 mistakes most people make when it comes to spending money.

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  • It doesn't matter how much money you have or don't have, everyone wants to know how to make his or her paycheck stretch further. The bad news is that everyone has bad habits when it comes to managing their money. The good news is, once you identify your monetary mistakes, you can fix them. Which of these mistakes are you making?

  • You 'treat' yourself with unnecessary purchases

  • When you've had a bad day or a recent success, what do you do to "treat" yourself? If your idea of a treat is a clothing shopping spree or several impulse buys at the grocery store, you're likely spending more money than you should on things you don't really need.

  • There's nothing wrong with rewarding yourself, but try to find a healthy, non-monetary way of doing so, like an evening of reading, a walk in the park or a movie night in with your significant other a friend.

  • You've never used coupons

  • No, you don't have to be a crazy couponer to save money with coupons. And if you've never used one before, you're missing out on some great deals at the store. So instead of tossing your grocery store's ad the next time it comes in the mail, take some time to leaf through it and see if there are coupons for any items you normally purchase.

  • Financial guru Dave Ramsey points out that coupons only save you money if the answer is yes when you ask yourself, "Will I actually use every item I purchased?" Ramsey goes on to say on his blog, "Just like with any great sale, if the groceries you purchased won't get eaten (or aren't healthy options), you haven't really saved any money at all. In fact, you might end up running back to the store to pick up more food to replace it."

  • You don't know how much you spend each week

  • Some people have a general idea that they shouldn't spend over a certain amount of money each week, but without a true budget, it's difficult to say how much spending power they really have after the bills are paid. Budgeting is crucial to making sure you don't spend past your income, even if you're spending money on necessary items.

  • The best practice for budgeting is to record how much you've been paid and then deduct whatever comes out automatically for health insurance, taxes, retirement, etc. Then list your expenditures, starting with the most expensive non-discretionary ones (rent, car payment) and ending with items that don't matter as much (entertainment, fast food). That way, you can see how much money you must have in order to maintain your lifestyle and how much spending you can reduce or shuffle should the occasion call for it.

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  • You keep a lingering balance on your credit card

  • Does it seem like every time you are about to pay off your credit card, you make more purchases and build the balance back up again. Carrying a balance on your credit card means paying interest on items you've already bought. Making purchases with a credit card is fine, as long as you pay it off promptly. It's also considered a best practice to have no more than one or two credit cards at a time, because the more cards you own, the easier it is to start losing track of balances and payment due dates.

  • When possible, pay with cash. You're more likely to make impulse buys when you know the money won't be coming out of your bank account right away. Paying with cash forces you to recognize just how much money you're actually spending.

  • You eat out more often than you eat in

  • Eating out is convenient and delicious, but it's also less healthy and more expensive than preparing your meals at home. If you plan ahead and have groceries on hand to make food you enjoy, you'll be less likely to throw caution to the winds and splurge on a dinner at a restaurant that costs four times as much as a meal you could have made at home.

  • Time Money recently reported that in January, grocery prices had fallen 0.5 percent year over year, while restaurant prices had risen 2.7 percent. If you aren't great at cooking, investing in a cooking class or two could still save you money if it leads to eating out less in the long run.

  • You don't shop around when you fill prescriptions

  • Chances are, when you go to fill a prescription at the pharmacy, you take the first brand they offer you. That's normal, but most people don't realize they can shop around for cheaper alternatives on their medications. Often a pharmacy will have a generic version of the medication you need on hand that is both cheaper and does the exact same thing and the name brand.

  • With MyHealth Pass, you can use the MyHealth Advocates tool to find those cheaper options. There is also have a separate Pricing Tool that helps you compare the costs of common medical procedures based on where you live and what alternatives are available.

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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