I recently heard the phrase “death by 1,000 cuts” from a financial advisor. His explanation was it’s not necessarily the big things that puts us in financial distress with our personal budget, but the small things that doom us. The small purchases (e.g. daily Starbucks, mbank fees, $5 here, $8 there) that are often overlooked that can be detrimental to our financial health. WOW!! And how about those bank fees?? Banks are NOTORIOUS for adding a small $5 fee that is often gone unnoticed by the consumer. If you aren’t paying attention, those monthly bank fees will add up and cause financial hardship without you even noticing. It’s financial death by 1,000 cuts and I’m here to SAVE YOU!!!
I have a confession. I don’t look at my bank statements on a monthly basis. I’m probably like most and throw my statements to the side and allow them to pile up until I decide to go through the shredding process. One late afternoon I was bored and decided to actually look through my bank statement and was SHOCKED to see a $5 bank fee issued to my account…monthly! It wasn’t my checking account (which is free) but my savings that is attached to the free checking that incurred the charge. Grrr…they got me. And it was my own fault.
It is safe to say most people are aware of the free checking services available by most banks. But what about the fine print we skim through (or don’t even skim through….) that requires a minimum balance in order for it to be “free”. That is how most of these bank fees slip through unnoticed!!!! Do you have to conduct bill pay every month for it to be free? What other stipulations are there? What hoops do you have to jump through in order for there not to be a surcharge at the end of the month? “Financial Death” may be a bit exaggerated but it makes the point. Watch out for the little expenses that are easily shrugged off as “it’s only $5”. How many it’s-only-$5 instances do you have in a day? A week? A month? Add those small items up and you’ll see my point.
8 a.m. - Starbucks Coffee- $3.50 (and that’s the cheap kind!)
10 a.m. – Vending Machine Snack- $1.50
12 p.m. – “Cheap” Lunch with the Crew- $7.50
2:30 p.m. – Vending machine raid #2- $1.50
5:00 p.m.- Take a look at all of your bank statements and notice monthly bank fees totaling $15.00 for the month!
TOTAL: $14.00 (NOT including the monthly bank fees)
And that’s just 1 day with the CHEAP Starbucks coffee!! Multiply that by 5 and you’re easily spending $70/week on the small stuff. Add in all the other “small” items (such as those lovely monthly bank fees) and you’ll soon see those small amounts adding up! If I haven’t made my point yet, here goes! Watch those small ticket items. Death by a 1,000 cuts is a life lesson that doesn’t only pertain to our personal budget or financial health, but life in general. It’s the small behaviors that turn into habits that become our lifestyle. We didn’t get fat off of 1 Girl Scout cookie, but off of the many cookies we ate and shouldn’t have. It all adds up!