Autopay Is Not Your Friend

Did you know that Autopay is a sneaky way that service companies often use to actually steal your money? Some people may not believe this, but I have got to say that this is the ugly truth about autopay. Nowadays, as everything has become so convenient, people get lazier. I used to be in this situation so I feel it very deeply. No matter how busy your life is, I am sure you will always have enough time to make monthly payments for your bills. I always believe that if you want to do something really bad, the universe will support you. If you want to save money, keep in mind that autopay is not your friend.

When I first moved out, I used to live by myself. Since I worked two jobs, I loved money, I did not have a lot of time to pay attention to small things around my life. This was a huge mistake. As we all know, when we live alone, we are responsible for every single bill there is. Since I was too busy all the time, I often missed due dates for my bills and as a result, I ended up getting charged a lot of late fees. To fix this, I thought that autopay was the best option, and I decided to set up automatic payments for every single bill. It was helping me a lot at first, so I gradually developed a bad habit of “not checking” for the balances of my bills. After a period of six months or so, everything came to light when I decided to take a look at my payments one night. I was so shocked when I saw how much money I have lost without noticing. 

The first bill I checked was my cell phone bill. By the time I opened the contract, I specifically requested to not add any extra services. All I wanted was the most basic cell phone service that I could use to make calls, texts, and LTE. The agent confirmed before I signed that I will not be charged for anything else. Until this day, I am still very upset every time I recall this memory. After I looked at the bill balance, I found out that somehow, I was charged an extra $20 every month for six consecutive months. As I contacted the company, they let me know that I was charged for something called “upgraded service.” This was totally unacceptable since I did not make any requests. To make things more frustrating, I was told that I could not get any refunds since they could only refund the most current month. As a result, I lost a lot of money believing in someone’s promise. To make sure the same thing did not happen again, I checked every bill I had, and I found out a few more bills that were also overcharging me.

Photo by Chronis Yan on Unsplash

Consequently, I canceled every autopay from all of my service providers. To make sure I did not forget any due dates, I wrote down each bill’s due date on a whiteboard. I bought a big whiteboard to write all of the things that I may forget. Turns out, this worked very well since I did not forget any due date ever since. Just write down your due dates each month on a whiteboard so they are always visible to you. As you made a payment, cross out that due date and move to the next. Always keep in mind that automatic payments can sneak up on you and steal your money.

Are you relying on automatic payments to pay your bills? If so, consider undo it or at least check carefully each month to make sure service companies are not overcharging you.

Beware of Where You Shop

On my money-saving journey, it took me quite a while to realize that where I shop matters. Normally, when I go shopping, especially for groceries, I always look for the closest stores to shop for instead of stores that are too far from where I live. The problem is that I gradually build up a bad habit of choosing convenience over low price. If you live in remote areas where you may not have different choices of where to shop, then it is another story. However, if you live in larger towns or in cities where there are a lot of different places to shop, keep in mind that not every shop price their items right. As long as you want to save money, you must make sure to note down stores that sell the same products at a lower price.

If you look closely, convenience store milk will be much more expensive than milk bought from Walmart or Trader Joe’s. This is because smaller businesses often price their products a little higher to make a profit. This is not a bad thing but it is not helping if you are trying to save money. I remember when I first started living by myself, I often worked too much that when I got home, I was dog-tired and went straight to bed. When I woke up, I often went to the nearest store, which was a Walgreens pharmacy, to buy all of the necessities such as eggs, milk, soap, snacks, and drinks. Little did I know that my laziness has cost me a lot of money. Aside from being lazy, I also developed a bad habit of not having a shopping list. By that time, I did not realize how important a shopping list was. Without a shopping list, I often bought what I thought was needed, and more than once, I ended up buying an extra of everything that I have already had at home.

Photo by Rebecca Jennings on Vox

To fix this, the first thing I learned to do was create a shopping list. When you have a list of what you want, you can just stick to that list and buy only what you really need. It is okay to buy a few miscellaneous items, but the main point of a good shopping list is to give yourself a guideline on what to buy while you wander around a store. The next thing I did was to note down stores that offer the same product at a lower price. In general, Walmart is the number one choice to shop when you want to save money. Products at Walmart are often offered the lowest price. My next favorite store to visit is Trader Joe’s. They carry both organic and regular products at a very reasonable price. I do like shopping at Target, but in terms of grocery shopping, places like Walmart and Trader Joe’s carry a lot more choices of fresh produce.

The next time you head out to shop, pay attention to the prices to see which store offers the lowest price to avoid spending extra money on the same item.

Repurpose Plastic Containers

Nowadays, we all know that instead of throwing plastic food containers into the dumpster, we should throw them in a recycling bin. However, what is even better than throwing your used food containers into a recycling bin is to give them another purpose. Not only does this action help to reduce the amount of waste, but it also helps you to save a lot of money. In general, there is nothing wrong with reusing food containers. The only challenge is that people are often too lazy to wash those containers and think that they are disposable so why would we reuse them anyway. What they do not realize is once they need something to store random things around the house, they will end up spending money on more plastic containers. In short, a lot of people throw away reusable plastic containers to later buy more of them.

Identify the Reusable Containers

Although most plastic containers are reusable, we must know which type of container we should reuse and which we should not. The general rule is, if you do not need to store food in these reusable containers, then you do not have to worry too much about which containers to keep and which containers to throw away. Personally, if I do not plan to store food in whichever container, I will just keep containers that are easy to wash and dry. For instance, I often end up having a lot of changes in coins after each grocery shopping trip, and if I don’t organize them, I will lose them somewhere eventually. To prevent losing my coins, I always keep a wide mouth 1-gallon juice jug to store my coins. This is sort of a DIY piggy bank that everyone should have, and it is very easy to make. After you are finished drinking your juice, wash your juice container carefully and let it dry. As for the lid, cut a narrow opening so that the biggest coin you have can go through. Once the empty juice container is completely dried, screw back the lid and start putting your coins in after each shopping trip. You will be surprised by the amount of money you have in that bottle once it is full.

Photo by Jill Nystul on One Good Thing

For those who plan to store food in used plastic containers, keep in mind that as long as your container is hard to clean on the inside, you should throw it in the recycling bin instead of reusing it. When you look at the bottom or on the side of your container, there is often a small triangle made up of three little arrows. In the center of this triangle, there is always a number. This is the recycling number. If you see numbers 2, 4, or 5, that container is safe to reuse. If you see any other numbers such as 1,3, and 6, just throw that container in the recycling bin. Another thing you should pay attention to is the condition of your reused containers. Being reusable does not mean that your container will not need to be replaced. As long as you see your reused plastic container is discolored, scratched, or broken, it is time to throw it in the bin. To make sure that used food containers are safe to be reused again, wash them thoroughly after each use and let them air-dried. Other than plastic containers, you can also reuse glass containers, but never metal containers. The acid and salt in your food may cause metal containers to rust very easily, and this is harmful to your health if you put your food in rusty containers.

Look around your house to see if there is any container that is reusable. If so, give them a good wash and a new purpose.