5 Ways to Stop Money Leaks

Where did all your cash go? You just went to the ATM - but your wallet's empty again. A recent survey by VISA found that almost half of all Americans lose track of an average of $45 a week. Guess that dollar here and there really does add up! Farnoosh Torabi, author of You're So Money, offers tips to stop cash from dripping out of your wallet.

Write it down. Keep a record of every purchase you make - down to quarters for parking meters - for a week. Seeing just how much those afternoon vending-machine raids are costing you will clue you in to your total spending picture.

Make a shopping list. Even if you're going to the grocery store for only a few items, sticking to your list is a simple way to avoid pricey impulse purchases.

Pay your own way. Treating your friends to coffee or lunch always feels great. But don't give till it hurts - pick up the check once in a while, not once a week.

Avoid ATM surcharges. If you use an ATM that's out of your network, most banks will charge you about $2. Add that to the $2 penalty fee your own bank will sock you with and you're looking at almost $4 each time you go to the ATM. If you take out cash once a week, that can add up to more than $200 a year! Stick to ATMs in your bank network and know about these other overlooked ways to save money.

Use only your debit card. Not only will you be able to track your spending more easily but you'll also be less likely to purchase that $1 pack of gum or $2 trinket on impulse if you have to go through the extra step of using plastic.

What are your tricks for avoiding small purchases that add up to big-time spending?

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