In any life there’s a ton of stuff to pay for. Some of it we want to pay (entertainment! travel!). Some of it we pay because we value comfort, safety and health (electricity! food!). But most of us also encounter a bunch of expenses that we neither want nor need to pay. These are costs you can avoid by changing your behavior. Correcting your laziness, distraction, or procrastination can save a lot of money and frustration on these eleven expenses.   

Late Fees

I get it. We all get busy and things sneak up on us. The next thing we know, we’re getting hit with late fees on everything from overdue bills to late library books. While a one-time oops isn’t a big deal, some people are chronically late, incurring substantial charges. Do whatever you can to stop being late. Set up notifications on your calendar. Create a spreadsheet with all of your due dates. Sign up for notifications from the service or credit card. Pay as soon as you get the notice and don’t put it off. Whatever system you choose, pay attention so you don’t miss any deadlines. 

Traffic Tickets

Whether it’s speeding, expired plates, driving without a seatbelt, or parking in a restricted spot, traffic tickets are expensive. (And that’s just the ticket. The impact to your insurance is usually far worse.) But tickets are not a mandatory expense. If you slow down, double check your parking options, and obey the laws, you won’t have to pay. 

Overdraft/Bounced Check Fees

This one is incredibly common, and costly. A recent study found that the average overdraft charge is $33.58. That’s per incident. Overdraft just a few times per month and you’re over $100. You can avoid this by tracking your available balance. Never “guesstimate” how much you have. If you have a real problem with overdrafting, you can ask most banks to turn off overdraft protection on your accounts. It means transactions will be rejected, but it also means you won’t pay overdraft fees. 

Unnecessary Fees

It feels like almost everything comes with fees, but there are ways to avoid many of them. However, the responsibility usually falls on you to do the legwork to avoid them. For example, your bank might charge you monthly fees just for having your account, but if you’re willing to switch to a different account type (or bank), you can likely avoid the fee. If you use ATM’s, make sure you plan ahead so you can go to one that’s in-network instead of paying the fee for an out of network ATM. If a service is charging you a bunch of fees, see if you can negotiate your way around them. Don’t just pay a fee without understanding exactly what it’s for and asking if you can avoid it. 

Shock Bills

We’ve all had the experience of getting a bill that’s suddenly much higher than we were expecting. Many times this is because we overlooked something. A huge water bill? That might be due to the running toilet you’ve been meaning to fix. Cable bill suddenly increased? You likely missed the notice about a rate change or a note on your bill about an expiring promo. Rent increased without notice? There probably was notice, but you haven’t opened your mail yet. Pay attention to your mail, read your bills, and stay on top of repairs. The sooner you know about things, the more time you have to shop for alternatives, negotiate, or make repairs to stop problems from getting worse.  

Tax Penalties

If you can’t pay your taxes on time, at least make sure to file for an extension. Failure to file at all comes with some hefty penalties and interest. Some people go years without filing and then receive enormous bills. The IRS is usually willing to help, so if you have problems, communicate early and often. And file on time!

Incorrect/Lazy Charges

How many times have you cancelled something, only to have the company keep charging you? Do you have a bunch of services or subscriptions that you keep meaning to cancel but never do? Are your service providers charging you for features you never use? Read your bills and check to make sure that everything is correct and that you’re using what you’re paying for. If something is wrong, or you’re being lazy about cancelling stuff, get it fixed. You don’t want to give a company money and get nothing in return. 


Accidents happen, but they seem to happen to some more than others. Don’t be careless with other people’s stuff (and use some common sense). Don’t play baseball near the neighbor’s windows. Don’t misuse that tool you borrowed. Trim the dead tree limb before it falls on the neighbor’s car. Don’t drive like a maniac when you rent a car. Take good care of other people’s stuff and property so you avoid having to shell out for damages. 

Premature Replacement

And while you’re taking care of other people’s stuff, apply the same care to your own stuff. If you treat your stuff poorly, it won’t last as long and you’ll have to buy replacements prematurely. Don’t gun your car’s engine. Respect your tools. Don’t overload your appliances. Buy an impact resistant case for your phone. Make small repairs to your home before they become major. Care can go a long way toward saving you money. 

Medical Expenses

You can’t prevent every bad medical issue, but you can prevent a fair number by taking precautions and being careful. Wear your helmet when cycling. Buckle your seatbelt. Wear safety equipment when doing things like using a saw or trimming trees (and don’t circumvent safety features). Don’t tackle projects for which you don’t have the necessary experience or equipment. And don’t do stupid stuff. That stunt might look good on TikTok, but it’s going to be expensive if it lands you in the ER.

Last Minute Premiums

There’s alway a premium attached when you wait until the last minute. It’s your punishment for procrastination. Wait to mail gifts until two days before Christmas? Don’t book plane tickets until the day before you intend to travel? Need to put a rush on a bill payment so it won’t be late? Last minute Christmas shopping when you’re desperate? It’s all going to cost you more than if you’d planned ahead. You can’t avoid every emergency, but a little forethought can save you a bunch of money. 

Do you know of any other expenses that you can avoid by changing your behavior? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

Jennifer Derrick

Jennifer Derrick is a freelance writer, novelist and children’s book author.  When she’s not writing Jennifer enjoys running marathons, playing tennis, boardgames and reading pretty much everything she can get her hands on.  You can learn more about Jennifer at: