Cents and Sensibility

Irresponsible Ways I Waste Money

The other day I paid a $24.50 library fine. That’s right. $24.50. And no, library fines don’t accrue interest. I asked because I was in disbelief, too. I’m just so irresponsible that I had 3 books overdue by a month.

Up until that point, I was on a good streak with this whole “adulthood” thing. I made a major, cost-effective change to my health insurance. I recently got a promotion. Just the other day, I even put away my laundry the same night that I washed it! But wasting almost $25 on something as simple as a library fine can really take the wind out of your big-girl sails.

I know the older and more responsible you get, the more you have to pay for – mortgages, children, prunes, retirement accounts, etc. But being irresponsibly young also comes at a cost. These costs are gross, unnecessary and completely avoidable. So I am turning over a new leaf! No more library fines. I am adding that to my litany of irresponsible expenses. Some of these things I’ve avoided for years. Some of these things I paid for last month. In either case, I know better. And now you will know better, too:

Parking Tickets – I used to think that parking tickets were just a necessary evil when you live in a major city. Then, the first year after college, I had enough parking tickets to cover a month of rent. I quickly changed my mind. And until local governments develop some kind of annual pass system, parking tickets will continue to be a huge waste of money. Let’s put our reading comprehension skills to good use, follow the signs and swear off parking tickets altogether.

Also, in case you didn’t know, a facial and microdermabrasion appointment takes more than an hour, so feed the parking meter accordingly. Learned that one the hard way.

Traffic Tickets – As much as we joke about cops trying to make their quota, doing 87 mph on the freeway last month was not my smartest move. In fact, it was a move that will cost me $250, plus another $65 if I opt for traffic school to erase that mistake off my driving record. So no more speeding, no texting (let’s be real, Instagram can wait), and no sneaking into the carpool lane. And if you do get pulled over, try crying. Sometimes it helps.

Things I Forgot to Return – I have a terrible habit of procrastinating errands. Sometimes, I procrastinate way past the return policy. Every now and again I am able to charm my way into store credit, but I really need to get it together. Buyer’s remorse is bad enough without having to get stuck keeping your purchase.

Things Purchased While Intoxicated – My roommate once blacked out and bought an ugly brown, fur-trimmed snowboarding jacket. He didn’t realize it until it arrived in the mail and he checked his purchase history. I’ve never done something quite as far fetched. But my willingness to buy everyone a round of drinks increases with the number of rounds I’ve already had. What can I say? I’m a generous drunk. I either need to stop being so generous or stop being so drunk. Decisions, decisions…

Bank Fees – Admittedly, I haven’t paid a bank fee in God knows how long. (Otherwise, you should not trust me for financial advice.) But I’d be amiss not to mention them. I get that sometimes you fall in a financial hole and can barely keep your head above water. I’ve been there. But overdraft fees, interest on your credit cards, and unnecessary annual fees add up. Curb your spending to avoid interest payments. Set up automatic alerts on your checking account so you don’t overdraft. And if your bank is charging you for the simplest services, like using your debit card or talking to a teller, consider switching to a new bank or credit union.

This list will only get longer as I get more responsible. I hope. But for now, these will do just fine. I’m really looking forward to saving money in responsible and obvious ways. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll start by finishing those library books…

Image by Shutterstock

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