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Money experts reveal the daily money habits that are costing you thousands

May 16, 2014

They are the daily habits you may not even think about, but chances are they’re adding up to thousands of dollars a year.

From withdrawing money from fee-charging ATMs to being slugged with hidden costs, you may be one of millions of Australians who unwittingly pay for things without realising it.

You’re probably not even aware of the extra cost it takes driving around trying to find that cheaper fuel to save two cents a litre or being slugged for using your debit or credit card in a taxi.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

News.com.au spoke to money experts about some of the most common money mistakes people make and here are just some of them. 

Buying at a premium

It’s tempting to splurge on that new pair of shoes or on something major such as a new car or house, but according to ABC Bullion chief economist Jordan Eliseo, it doesn’t make sense.

“The most common investing mistake is following the crowd,” he said.

“People feel safe doing what others are doing, but when it comes to investing, it normally pays to be a contrarian. All markets move in cycles, so the best time to buy something (shares, property, gold) is when no one else wants them, as that's when they’re likely to be cheapest.”

Driving an extra 10 minutes to save on petrol

We all love a saving and will naturally venture somewhere cheaper in the search for a bargain, but unless the station is down the road, you may end up just wasting money.

Shiju Thomas, general manager of online car-buying website Autogenie, reckons it’s a common mistake but can be more costly than we think. He said if there’s a station or brand that advertises lower prices than its competitors, it’s probably worth giving them a go.

“However, while hunting out the lowest fuel prices in your region can be an effective method to save money, be careful the extra travelling time doesn’t cancel out the reduced cost,” he warns.

Using fee-charging ATMs

A small fee like $2.50 may not seem like much.

But visit a different bank’s ATM a few times a week and it can easily add up to $200 or $300 a year, according to tax expert and Deakin University senior Lecturer in Financial Planning & Superannuation, Dr Adrian Raftery.

Paying off credit card debt last

According to Dr Raftery this is a common and costly mistake. He said making extra repayments on a home loan that is charging six per cent interest instead of paying off a credit card balance at 24 per cent didn’t make sense.

“With the average credit card debt around $5000, the cost is an extra $900 per annum,” he said.

Not updating your address

Statistics show there is currently $17 billion in lost super in Australia, which is mainly due to people not notifying their fund of their new address when they move. That’s thousands of lost dollars when you consider super employer contributions have jumped from 3 per cent in 1992 to 9.5 per cent from July this year.

Not keeping tax receipts

According to Dr Raftery, poor filing of paperwork could be costing you a nice holiday each year, and can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run.

“The ATO motto is no receipt, no deduction,” he said.

Renting

The biggest waste of all is not owning a home. Dr Raftery argues “rent is dead money”.

He said while it may be cheaper to avoid buying in the short term, higher rents compared to low mortgage rates and a shortage of properties meant that might not be the case in the long run.

“You will still have to pay rent until the day you die while most mortgages are paid in full after 25 years with just council rates and maintenance subsequently required,” he said.

Living from one pay to the next

Not budgeting, and failing to live within your means is a recipe for disaster and will leave you relying on the credit card which accrues interest if not paid off in full each month.

Most money experts agree, if you haven’t got the money to spend in the first place, you can’t afford to buy it.

Not paying attention to credit card fees and charges

According to Michelle Hutchison, money exert at financial comparison site finder.com.au, being unaware of changing credit card rates and fees is a big mistake which costs people hundreds of dollars every year.

“Annual fees cost up to $1200 but there are many cards with no fee so it’s worth comparing what providers are offering,” she said.

Home loans

Not reviewing discounted home loan rates is another big one according to Mrs Hutchison.

“Many lenders market their home loans by way of a discount from their standard variable rate, which might sound better on television but you still need to find out how much you’d actually pay,” she said.

She added these discounts often left consumers with a rate much higher than other options on the market.

“For example, 0.62 percentage point difference is worth $113 every month in repayments for a $300,000 loan,” she said.

Using a savings account instead of your home loan

If you have a home loan, it can be costing you money to deposit your cash into a savings account rather than adding it to your home loan account or offset account.

Mr Hutchison said using a savings account when you have a home loan is detrimental to maximising your money, as you can save more off your home loan than earning interest in a savings account.

This article first appeared on news.com.au here.

Tags: BudgetDeductionsFinancial PlanningPersonal tax

Author: Debra Killalea

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