12 Habits That Are Costing You Money

iStock
iStock

Ever wonder why your bank account is never as full as you’d like it to be? If you’re not splurging on big purchases, taking exotic vacations, or dining at fancy restaurants, it could be because you’ve picked up a few bad habits that are costing you money. Here are 12 behavior patterns you should avoid if you’re trying to conserve cash. 

1. BUYING COFFEE

Americans spend an average amount of $21.32 per week on beverages brewed at a coffee shop. By purchasing a to-go cup and a French press (or taking advantage of your office’s communal coffee pot), you could save $1108.64 over the course of one year. 

2. SKIPPING THE GYM 

Whether you belong to a discount chain gym or a pricey designer fitness boutique, you’re still squandering cash if you’re sitting at home instead of lifting weights or going to yoga class. The average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58, and studies indicate that about $39 of that goes to waste due to underutilization. 

3. HITTING THE ATM 

While it’s always good to have extra cash in your wallet, minor ATM fines add up over time. The average fee to withdraw funds from an ATM that’s not affiliated with your bank is $4.52 (seriously!). If that’s not enough to curb your trips to the ATM, know that Americans spent $7 billion on ATM fees in 2010. 

4. DRINKING 

According to national statistics, the average American devotes 1 percent of all their spending—that’s $1 of every $100—to alcohol. Restaurants or bars are expensive, but even by drinking a $15 bottle of wine at home every weekend you’re still spending more than $60 per month.

5. GOING OUT FOR LUNCH 

A few years ago, one major credit card company surveyed 1003 adults across America. On average, they went out to lunch twice a week and spent $10 each time. If they had brown-bagged it, they could have saved $20 a week. 

6. OVERDRAWING YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT 

While the amount varies from bank to bank, the median nationwide cost of an overdraft fee is $34. Monitor your checking account on a regular basis to make sure you’re not withdrawing too much money. If you’re a repeat offender, consider getting overdraft protection, which links your checking account to a savings account or a line of credit. If your balance is too low, the bank will automatically deposit money from the linked account to your checking. There’s typically a fee for these transfers, but it’s much lower than overdraft fees. 

7. PLAYING THE LOTTERY 

Even though tickets for the last big jackpot were only $2, your odds of winning were 1 in 292.2 million—the same as your odds of flipping a coin and getting heads 28 times in a row. If splurging on a ticket here and there doesn’t seem like it will break the bank, reflect on the fact that Americans spent $70 billion on lotto games in 2014. 

8. TOSSING LEFTOVER FOOD   

According to some estimates, the average American tosses 20 percent of the food he or she buys at the supermarket into the garbage. This wasteful habit ends up costing them $375 per year. 

9. AVOIDING THE AUTO SHOP   

Skimping on vehicle maintenance can cost you big time. Americans spend over $2 billion each year on major repairs or other related costs because they don’t change dirty or low-level fluids or replace filters, belts, and hoses. 

10. PAYING YOUR CREDIT CARD BILLS LATE 

Typically, credit card companies charge you a $25 to $35 fee per late payment—not to mention the havoc it’s wreaking on your credit. If you consistently forget to pay your card bills on time, think about setting up calendar alerts, or arrange for automatic payments.

11. AVOIDING YOUR STUDENT LOANS 

With interest rates ranging from 4 to 7 percent, federal student loans can quickly snowball out of control if you don’t make regular payments. (Interest rates for private loans can run even higher.) 

12. BUYING NAME-BRAND PRODUCTS 

While brand recognition is reassuring, many generic food products, medicines, and household products are just as good as their fancily packaged counterparts. They’re way cheaper, too. 

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm on the Fourth of July

iStock/Getty Images Plus/melissabrock1
iStock/Getty Images Plus/melissabrock1

The Fourth of July can be rough for dogs. Fireworks displays light up their senses with unfamiliar noises, flashes, and smells, and parties flood their homes with strange guests who may invade the rooms they usually have as private retreats. And when distressed dogs escape, howl, or thrash around the house, Independence Day can quickly become a nightmare for their owners, too. To minimize Fido's stress this holiday, we spoke to some dog experts to discover the best ways to keep your canine calm on the Fourth of July.

1. Exercise Your Dog

Anthony Newman, the dog whisperer who runs New York City's Calm Energy Dog Training, says that exercise is a great way to help your dog let off some nervous energy. "Whenever Fido is going to be neglected for an extended period of time, or around any stressful stimuli, it always helps to tire him out just before—and even during the night if you can," Newman says. "As the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog! He'll be calmer, happier, and more peaceful."

2. Keep Your Dog Indoors

Dr. Stephanie Liff, head veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care, says the best place to keep your pet during a fireworks show is inside and away from the windows. "If the pet is very scared, an escape-proof crate or a sound-insulated room, such as an internal bathroom, may help the pet to feel more secure," Liff tells Mental Floss. "If you cannot keep your pet inside, make sure that the pet is prevented from escape (monitor all exits and tell guests to monitor your pet)."

3. Socialize Your Dog

While your dog may feel more secure in a room away from all the noise, Newman points out that keeping your dog isolated in another room for too long can be stressful for your pet. "Release his curiosity and let him in on the fun, to run around and play with both two-legged as well as four-legged guests," Newman says. "Then back to his obedient room, bed, car, crate, or spot. Rinse and repeat as needed throughout the night."

4. Take Control of Your Dog

According to Newman, the best way to keep your dog calm during the chaos of July 4th is to stay in charge. "If your dog winces, shivers, and runs away at loud noises, the last thing he wants is to feel like nobody else is looking out for him," Newman says. Don't let your dog run rampant around the house or follow him around trying to soothe him. Instead, Newman says it's important to "take control by attaching a super-light leash that you can grab and lead him whenever you need."

5. Explore Medicating Your Dog

In extreme cases of nervousness, Liff says that you should talk to your vet about medication to sedate your dog.