Money

4 Tips to Avoid Common and Costly Spending Traps

Frustrated by how quickly your wallet empties out? The latest research reveals you could be getting drained by sneaky spending traps! Take a look to see how you can thwart them.

1. Nix autopay charges.

A new survey shows one third of us unknowingly have recurring autopay charges on our credit or debit card that we didn’t authorize. Most are a result of signing up for a service (like streaming TV) that used tricky language to enroll you in an automatic payment for another service altogether.

To nix them, read through your account statements and look for charges you didn’t authorize — then call the service and have the subscription canceled.

2. Look for errors on bills.

You could be paying for charges on monthly bills that shouldn’t be there as a result of human or computer error or even an outside company that secretly added the extra fee, which can happen on your phone bill in a scam called “cramming.” 

The fix: Review your bills to be sure you’re only paying or services you requested. Not sure what a charge means? Call and ask the company to explain it!

3. Shop with your iPod.

Ever go into a store for one item but end up buying more? Researchers have pinpointed one key reason: the music playing in the store. A new study reveals that hearing fast-tempo music revs excitement and makes you think less about your budget, spurring you to purchase more. 

The money saving fix? Bring your iPod (or other listening device) to listen to your favorite slow tunes as you shop.

4. Double-check the price.

Keep returning to the same online store for products you buy regularly? Watch out! Some retailers use “dynamic pricing,” which means prices can go up based on how often you buy from that site and what other online stores you visit.

To cut costs, check the store’s prices by using a private browsing window (called “incognito,” “in private,” or “private”), which you’ll find under the menu tab on your web browser. This opens a new page that doesn’t store your online habits, so you can see if there’s a price difference. If there is, you can make your purchase at the lower cost.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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