Looking to save a few bucks? Don't cut these corners

With unemployment at the highest it's been in four years, you've probably considered a few creative ways to earn some extra cash. But some of your strategies may end up costing you more than you're saving. When it comes to your long-term investments and health care, it may be best to leave them be or risk incurring massive penalties and possible mega-bills for unanticipated medical costs. In fact, if you're scrutinizing your budget for clever ways to save, avoid these tempting mistakes.

1. Switching Cell Phone Plans Mid-Way Through your Contract
Cell phone companies tack on enormous fees-upwards of $150 in many cases-to discourage customers from terminating their contracts early. So if you're feeling the lure of the iPhone siren song, hang tight. The iPhone will still be there once your contract expires, and you'll have saved a big wad of cash.

2. Going Without Health Insurance
An estimated 47 million Americans go without any sort of health care coverage. Tempting as it may be to save a bundle on health care, consider this: Even minor injuries that require an unexpected emergency room visit could saddle you with thousands of dollars in debt. Nearly half of all bankruptcies today are attributable to overwhelming medical costs, according to recent Harvard study. Health care is not where you should be skimping.

3. Dipping Into Your 401K Early
That'll cost you a penalty of at least 10% for cashing in before you're 59. Add the taxes Uncle Sam collects and you've already lost a sizeable chunk of your savings. If you're between jobs, use this as a last resort-it will sting in the long run.

Continue reading Looking to Save a Few Bucks? Don't Cut These Corners

By Jihan Thompson - Career & Money Blogger - Marie Claire

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