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Everyday Cheapskate: Stop Paying for Things You Don't Need

Mary Hunt on

A big coordinated garage sale in my neighborhood gave me a surprising wake-up call. It's one thing to see a family's stuff spread out in the front yard, but quite another to see a whole neighborhood's castoffs at one time. All I could think as I walked from one yard to the next was all the money wasters that led to this colossal display of stuff -- purchased with dollars, now offered for pennies.

Imagine how much cash we'd have right now if we could get a do-over on all the thoughtless purchases we've made in our lifetimes.

NO. 1: EXTENDED WARRANTIES

Generally, they're not worth the money. If a new gadget or appliance is going to fail, research tells us it will do so during the manufacturer's warranty period or long after the extended warranty has expired. That makes extended warranties a huge profit center for retailers and a pretty useless expense for consumers.

Get smart: If you're worried about a breakdown, take the money you'd spend on a warranty and stash it into a special savings account. If your item fails, you'll have the money to repair it. If not (which is more likely), you'll have stashed away a nice little nest egg.

NO. 2: GYM FEES

 

The sales pitch is compelling, and the promise of better health is hard to deny. But getting roped into a legal obligation to pay a big monthly fee for the next two or three years -- whether you use the gym or not -- makes no sense.

Get smart: Find a gym or health club that requires no contract (you pay by the month if and when you desire). Or don't pay at all: There's a big wonderful world out there where you can walk, jog or run for free!

NO. 3: PHONE APPS AND GAMES

OK, so it's cool to have apps, filters and games on your devices. And sure, $2 to $3 a pop or $10 a month may not seem like a lot of money for so much fun. But watch out. You can blow through a lot of cash in no time.

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