Michael on July 6th, 2009
Bookmark and Share

I’m a big fan of major on the major, minor on the minor.  Too many people spend too much of their precious time trying to save money in small ways only to miss the big opportunities.  As a result, they continue to struggle.

That said, I’m human too.  I’ve spent and lost money due to certain situations that I’m not happy about.  I don’t believe most of these were due to my specific decisions to spend money but rather due to the situations I suddenly found myself in. Yet, upon reflection, it was my previous decisions that put me in these annoying situations.

Here are the top 10 most annoying ways I’ve spent and lost money:

  1. Expired parking meters: Annoying no matter the cause, but enough to drive a man insane when caused by someone who keeps talking when the meeting is already over.  Cost: $10 (New Hampshire) to $45 (Los Angeles).
  2. Change in between the seats of the car: I can see the coins but I can’t get them.  I’ve tried.  More than once. Cost: Unknown, but estimated at between 55 and 97 cents.
  3. Blackjack: Do the laws of probability not apply to me?  I know how to play, but I’ve just lost seven straight hands and am now approaching my psychological dollar limit of losing. But I’m so due.  Maybe just two more hands? Cost:  Highly variable and occasionally zero.  But usually more.
  4. Sales tax: I have lived in sales-tax-free New Hampshire long enough that paying $1.08 for something that costs $0.99 seems like a total con job.  Cost: Minimal, because I actually think to myself, “I can get that at home and save the sales tax.”
  5. Bank fees – Okay, so I don’t really pay these because I choose my banks wisely. Nonetheless, I would get so annoyed if I ever did have to pay them that bank fees make the list as a head’s up to everyone else.  Bank fees are sooooo optional. Don’t pay them.  Cost: $0.00.
  6. Library fines – Obviously, these don’t qualify as a big mistake but the only reason you’ll ever pay them is because you’re forgetful, lazy, careless, or all three. I try not to have any of those attributes, so library fines are more of a personal insult than of monetary significance. Cost: About 10 cents, but it stings.
  7. Grocery items that appear on sale on the shelf but are not so at the cash register.  Whether because the computer wasn’t updated for the sale, a sign was misplaced, or I accidentally picked up the 150-sheet size ultra light version of discount brand X instead of the 150-sheet size ultra light double version of discount brand X, the price comes up at $0.50 cents more per unit at the cash register.  I’ve bought three because of the sale.  Now comes the most annoying choice of my day. Do I say something or swallow the $1.50? I bet you know the answer.  Now I am annoying!  Cost: $0.00.
  8. Getting charged for a free refill that wasn’t: Since my soda consumption is way down from my early twenties and I know there’s no such thing as a free refill on beer, this hasn’t happened in a long time. But I do remember getting charged the extra $1.99 because the free refills promotion had ended but I didn’t get the memo. Cost: $1.99.
  9. Ridiculous taxes on rental cars, hotel rooms, and airfare. Not a whole lot you can do here but they sure are annoying.  In case you’re curious as to why rental car and hotel room taxes are so high, it’s because out-of-staters who pay those taxes don’t vote in the state where the taxes are assessed.  Bummer.  My only workaround: rent a car away from the airport, like in the center of the city. You can save some serious dough, especially on long-term rentals.  Cost:  Over $100 a year.
  10. Lab fees: How much could an x-ray of a busted ankle cost?  It took less than 3 minutes once I met the tech.  Survey says: north of $100, even with decent insurance.  Thanks, now my wallet and my ankle hurt.

And my bonus annoying way to lose a little bit of money:

11. Coupons refused at the warehouse club: I don’t personally clip coupons, but my wife goes through the Sunday inserts and often grabs coupons for the items we regularly buy (especially eggs).  For some reason, I tend to be the one who does the shopping at the local warehouse club.  The last time I was there, I had a coupon (on eggs) for 50 cents off that my wife cut out of the paper minutes before I left to go to the store.  Yet said coupon is summarily, thoroughly, and publicly rejected because my wife, in her haste, has accidentally snipped off the month’s portion of the expiration date.  How does the jury find?

“Guilty!  We can’t accept a coupon that doesn’t have the expiration date on it, you not so clever thief!”

That it is a manufacturer’s coupon (so the retailer doesn’t actually pay the coupon value) is irrelevant.  That my bill is $250 and the coupon is for $0.50 is not of consideration.   The coupon czar, Ray H., says no.  Annoying.

What annoying ways do you lose money?

Bookmark and Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 Comments to “Top 10 Most Annoying Ways to Lose A Little Money”

  1. Arianna says:

    Great post Michael.

    One to add:

    Vending Machine, or any type of stand alone dispensing machine that decides it will eat your money & not give you what you wanted. You don’t know what to do or how to get it back. The effort to do so also completely trumps the payout. Mostly, you just wanted the drink or snack.

  2. Michael says:

    @Arianna: Great add. I have a another one from last night: produce that goes bad way too quickly.

  3. Jessica says:

    How about late fees on credit card payments? I’m usually really good about paying my balance in full each month, but occasionally have missed payment by a few days because of an extended weekend or vacation and it just not being on my mind to do. That is super annoying, plus can impact your credit rating if it happens all the time.

  4. Michael says:

    Thanks for sharing Jessica. As you might have learned, you can get out of the occasional late payment if you call the credit card company and explain to them how wonderful you are, how you usually pay on time and how you’d hate to be stuck with this fee that was just due to your “extended weekend or vacation.” I’ve done it twice in my life and got out of it both times. Of course, the key is that it was two times in my life not two times every quarter.

  5. Speed trap. Getting caught by the speed camera in a stretch of a seven-lane thoroughfare where the limit drops from 45 mph to 35 mph for about four blocks before the camera and then goes right back up to normal a block beyond the camera: $118 for going 11 mph over the reduced limit.

  6. Michael says:

    @Funny about Money: Another excellent one. Adding insult to injury: if it’s the ticket that puts you “over the top” in your insurance rating. Next thing you know, that $118 is chicken-feed compared to what happens to your auto insurance premiums at the next renewal!

  7. Neil says:

    Excellent article. Though I do mark blackjack down as a perfectly acceptable entertainment expense. It’s actually pretty inexpensive for minimum-bet players like me…a bad night down $100 – my limit – is cheaper than tickets to the symphony, which would provide similar enjoyment. As an added bonus, that averages out with up nights – I’ll normally walk away if I’ve more than doubled my bankroll. Although I don’t track exactly, I believe it’s actually been marginally profitable since I started playing 3 years ago.

  8. Michael says:

    @Neil: I hear you on blackjack. Ironically, the lower the limit, the greater the temptation!

  9. Anonymous says:

    The magazine that was ‘conveniently’ and automatically renewed without your having to do a thing…the notification e-mail went to my husband. Bam! I’m getting Cooking Light for another year! And the price went up…

  10. Michael says:

    @Anonymous: Ugh – frustrating! Any chance you can cancel the remaining issues for a partial refund? Worth a call . . .

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>