Drip, Drip, Drip…Are You Guilty of These Budget Leaks?

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Save Money Around the House

It’s the end of the month and you make a quick stop at the ATM to check your bank account balance. When the receipt prints, the picture it paints isn’t pretty–you’re low on funds and you have bills to pay. Where in the world did all of your money go?!

It doesn’t matter if it’s $30 or $300, if you suddenly find yourself with less money than anticipated, you might have a few budget leaks.

Just like those annoying drips of a broken faucet, budget leaks can wreak serious havoc on your financial health if they aren’t repaired sooner than later. Take a look at the following common money leaks and rest assured that if you’re suffering from any of them, there aren’t any pricey plumbing invoices in your future; just some good, old-fashioned hard work to change your habits and manage your money better.

When the Land Line = A Gold Mine


Do you have a land line for a telephone in your home? If so, you could be paying out hundreds of dollars each year in budget leaks for an antiquated service. If you have a cell phone and Internet at home, there’s no reason for the extra expense of a land line. If you’re attached at the hip to your phone, you can always invest the $20 or so to get one of those boxes that connects your phone to the Internet so you can use it for free. Total savings? Upwards of $400/year! This is also not to mention that a cell phone bill can be a massive budget leak as well. Do yourself a favor and do some comparison shopping so you can save money on your cell phone bill as well.

The Case of the Disappearing Bills


How many times have you gone to your purse or wallet in search of cash and found nothing? Or what about absentmindedly forking over a few $5 bills at the convenience store then not recording the expense for tracking purposes? (You are tracking your expenses, right?!)  While using cash can be a great way to keep your spending under control if you monitor every purchase and always know how much money you have left, the reality is that life dictates a pace that might not allow for this level of detailed awareness. If you find yourself in a position where the dollar bills just seem to disappear, consider keeping all of your cash together in one place so it’s easier to visually see budget leaks, what’s left, or find another method for how you track your spending. Total savings? The sky’s the limit with this one!

Rotten Vegetables = Rotten Budgets


I’m definitely guilty of this budget leak. Despite my best efforts, I routinely find myself throwing away rotten produce at least monthly. It pains me to toss that wilted, slimy lettuce away, but it hurts more to know that my hard-earned cash is going out the door with it. If you’re also a habitual rotten veggie tosser, consider tracking your consumption for a month and basing your grocery list on what will actually be eaten before it goes to waste. If it’s not on the list, it’s not in the cart. This will help you trim  your expenses and learn to be a more savvy shopper. Total savings? Hundreds!


What budget leaks do you need to repair?


Photo courtesy of: Eric Norris

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Jen is the owner of The Happy Homeowner, where she writes about living a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Previously, she paid off $14K in credit card debt in less than a year and hasn’t looked back since. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


  • Mine’s impulse buying, the most common and worst budget leak that I encounter every month. 🙁

  • Ugh rotting vegetables are the worst! I love eating healthy but hate when fruits/veggies go bad. I 100% agree about the landline – it just doesn’t make sense to have one in if you have a cell phone.

  • Ugh rotting vegetables are the worst! I love eating healthy but hate when fruits/veggies go bad. I 100% agree about the landline – it just doesn’t make sense to have one in if you have a cell phone.

  • eemusings says:

    I hate hate HATE cash! I could seriously go months without ever having to touch physical money, though now that we’re travelling long term it’s all about cash.

    Landlines are still pretty common in NZ and often come as a bundle with wifi. When we get back though I’ll look into what options we have.

  • I’m guilty of buying too many groceries and not eating them all!

  • I hate throwing away food. I actually feel like I’m throwing money away. It makes me sad. I don’t have a landline and never have. They are pointless!

  • Matt Becker says:

    We’re definitely guilty of wasting food. I think we’ve gotten better recently but we could definitely improve. For us there are still things like cell phone and satellite TV contracts that we pay far too much for. Finding better ways to obtain those services would certainly help our budget.

  • It takes us a long time to eat a loaf of bread, so I always used to throw part or it out. I learned to keep it in the fridge or freezer and it never molds. It isn’t as fresh, but if you toast it, you can’t tell the difference. I used to be bad with fruit as well, but now freeze anything going bad for smoothies.

  • Have to say I’m guilty of the vegetables. I try to eat them once I get them but I hate going to the grocery store because I always end up buying too much stuff. Unfortunately it leads to more waste but I have gotten better about it. I can’t wait until my wife and I get our own house so we can have a garden and get really fresh veggies.

  • Tara says:

    Totally agree on rotting food! Just today I had to throw out a significant chunk of salad in the clamshell container because my terrible fridge freezes salad if I put it too close to the airflow (and I can’t reduce fridge temp or dairy would spoil). I’ve gotten better at forcing myself to cook veggies if I see they’re going bad (soft veggies are great in soups/stews), but there is still waste, like today’s lost salad…

  • Alexa says:

    I probably can’t count the times I have went to my purse to get money and there was none in there. Cash disappears for me. I feel so much more comfortable using my debit card. I spend cash like crazy but I watch my purchases like a hawk if they are being taken out of my bank account.

  • Ugh. I have a head of lettuce in the crisper that I keep telling myself to eat, but salad just hasn’t sounded good to me this week! And the older the lettuce gets, the worse of an idea it feels like. =(

  • No landline…I have the OOMA device. The device itself was like $149 but monthly fee is only $4 to $5. I guess I could cut that out too but sometimes my cell phone is on vibrate and I just don’t hear it. As for rotting produce/expired foods, we definitely have to be better in planning our meals so food doesn’t go to waste.

  • anna says:

    I’ve definitely been guilty of the rotten vegetables/breads one – now I try to combat it with just going to the store every few days rather than one big shopping trip a week. It’s right next to my gym, so I just pop in right after my work out. I agree about the cash thing, as well – I could mindlessly buy a $3 thing here and $5 thing there so easily.

  • E.M. says:

    My parents insist on having a landline, but my mom has a tracfone so it’s kind of understandable. Their phone also comes in a bundle with cable and internet.

    I am also guilty of the rotten vegetables. I buy them thinking I will find some way to use them and I end up forgetting about them. It’s awful. Thankfully most of our other food doesn’t go to waste, but it still hurts, especially when produce can be more expensive.

  • We eat out way too much!

  • We actually have some blueberries in the fridge right now that are going bad. We need to do a better job of eating what we buy in a timely manner, that is for sure.

  • We had to throw out some food recently too. It’s tough in the summer months. Food spoil too quickly in the heat. I guess we’ll just have to buy a little less until the weather cools down.

  • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

    My wife and I have been working really hard this year at reducing our food waste. This used to be a big waste of money for us, with leftovers rotting in the fridge and then being thrown out. One thing we did was to always put the newest leftovers in the back and to eat the ones in the front first.

  • We have had most benefit from working on the drip that is third on your list; buying for menus is a great way to eliminate food waste and saves a lot of money. I mean, in our case about $250 per month.

  • Bryce says:

    We have our land line as part of our internet package. It is metered usage. As long as our use stays below 250 minutes per month, our bill is $25 plus taxes and fees that add up to $5.65 per month. Our Internet cost per month is $40 on top of that. I need to look into getting back that $30.65 per month ($367.80 per year). Thanks for the big savings reminder. 🙂

  • Do or Debt says:

    We still need to go out less and lately the produce has been going bad. Green smoothies are a good way to salvage them.

  • I still pay for a landline in the UK because it looked mandatory to have internet. The connection is not fiber so apparently you need a phone line. My tenants don’t use it so it is about $15 a month for the rental.

  • Yep I completely agree. I ditched the land line and the cash and I became richer :). It’s amazing what a little awareness and a little less cash in your pocket can achieve.

  • Syed says:

    Gift giving can definitely be a money leak. Getting married means having a whole other set of birthdays to remember. Then there’s anniversaries, graduation parties, baby showers etc. It really helps to just set aside some money per month for gifts so you’ll be ready when you need the funds.

  • Sherry says:

    I run a personal finance blog and I am constantly reading articles to help people with budgeting.
    I just want to add that probably everyone goes through the rotten vegetable syndrome. I used to feel guilty about seeing rotting bananas and would feel like I was wasting money. Then I realized that really in the scheme of wasteful expenditures, this wasn’t really a big ticket item, so I stopped worrying about it. What I hate is forgetting to put meat in the refrigerator.

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