With the passing of 2007 and a fresh new year upon us, it’s appropriate that we renew our past financial resolutions and vow, once again, to spend our money wisely. Of course, simply making the pledge is no guarantee that our dollars will work diligently. Wasteful ways to use resources are easily adopted, and these habits become a way of life. In the hope of dissuading you from blowing your often hard-earned dollars in a fashion you’ll later regret, I’ve listed twenty not uncommon expenditures that are often ill-advised. Pay close attention. If you see yourself in any of the following scenarios, perhaps you should give a second thought to what you’re doing.

  1. You’ve just handed the clerk at Rite Aid Pharmacy $4.34 for a package of Marlboro cigarettes. You will repeat this procedure tomorrow. By year’s end you’ll be $1,584 poorer, while wheezing just a little more.
  2. To safeguard your wife and children, you purchase a $250,000 life insurance policy. At the urging of the agent, it is a universal policy with a $3,000 per year premium instead of a term policy at only $350.
  3. During a weekend visit to Palm Desert, California, you book accommodations at the Marriott Resort and Spa at $350 per night, despite the fact that an equally suitable room is available two miles away at Residence Inn by Marriott for $120.
  4. On the recommendation of your auto Owner’s Manual, you regularly fill your tank with 91 octane premium gasoline, even though it performs equally well on less expensive 87 octane fuel.
  5. With your insurance representative’s assurance of it’s suitability as a short-term investment, allowing early withdrawal of your money if necessary, you just purchased a variable annuity.
  6. You periodically permit the balance on your bank checking account to drop below the $2,500 minimum required to forestall a $15 monthly service charge.
  7. Although the tube of Wet ‘n Wild lipstick, available at Target for $1.39, contains the same ingredients found in the Chanel brand sold at Macy’s for $25, you prefer to patronize the latter establishment for this product.
  8. You make a generous annual contribution to your local branch of United Way, despite the fact that you have no idea how the money is used or in what activities the organization actually engages.
  9. To enable your daughter to enroll at Columbia University, an institution with annual tuition and fees of $25,922, plus $7,966 room & board, where she will major in Earth & Environmental Engineering, you have just placed a $150,000 mortgage loan on your home.
  10. To demonstrate your apparent prosperity to friends and relatives, you have assumed the lease on a 2007 Cadillac Escalade Sport Utility Vehicle, at $785.91 per month, with 34 months remaining on the lease. You are not certain what your liability may be at the end of that period.
  11. You enthusiastically purchase lottery tickets each week in the hope that you will become a winner. Whenever the advertised jackpot becomes exceptionally large, you increase the number of tickets you buy.
  12. Though the effective annual interest rate on your credit card balance is currently 18.24%, you consistently make only the minimum monthly payment required.
  13. The hedge fund in which you hold significant investments charges a 2% annual management fee together with retaining 20% of all profits generated.
  14. At the local supermarket you can purchase a dozen rolls of Angel Soft, 450-sheet, 2-ply, toilet paper, manufactured by Georgia-Pacific, for $11.85. The same 12 rolls are available at a nearby Wal-Mart for $5.25, but you won’t buy them there because you’re certain the lower price means they’re inferior.
  15. The sports jacket you purchased fifteen years ago continues to fit well and look good, but at the urging of your wife you will donate it to the Salvation Army, because it simply isn’t acceptable to be seen in old clothes.
  16. You cannot resist subscribing to the newspaper advertisement offering a half-pound silver commemorative medallion from The Perfidious Mint, at the “special advance price of only 139 dollars.”
  17. To deal with the fear and anxiety engendered in you by the widely publicized threat of global warming, you will attend an 8-hour therapy session offered by a noted eco-therapist who will, for $1,750, “sooth your heart and reinvigorate your soul.”
  18. To realize a lifetime of dream vacations while avoiding the inconvenience and expense of searching for a hotel year after year, you have purchased a timeshare property.
  19. The envelope you’ve just sealed, and which seems to weigh several ounces, must be mailed. As a scale is not handy, you’ll affix two dollars in postage on it just to be safe.
  20. Unaware of a funeral home’s typical 300 to 500 percent markup on casket prices, you authorize the funeral director to provide that item at the forthcoming ceremony for which you are responsible.

About the Author:

Al Jacobs has been a professional investor for more than four decades. His business experience ranges from real estate, mortgage, and securities investment to appraisal, civil engineering, and the operation of a private trust company. In addition to managing his investments on a day-to-day basis, he is a featured financial columnist for both online and print publications. He is the author of Nobody’s Fool: A Skeptic’s Guide to Prosperity. You may subscribe to his financial Newsletter, “On the Money Trail,” at no cost or obligation, by visiting www.onthemoneytrail.com.

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