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

Avoid these tempting mistakes.

woman picking money off of a tree
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woman picking money off of a tree
Karin Catt
DIPPING INTO YOUR 401(k) 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 sizable chunk of your savings. If you're between jobs, use this as a last resort — it will sting in the long run.
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woman with credit card and cell phone
Suprijono Suharjoto
SWITCHING CELL PHONE PLANS MIDWAY THROUGH THE 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.
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stethoscope and ekg printout
Chad McDermott
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 a recent Harvard study. Health care is not where you should be skimping.
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BOUNCING CHECKS
It's one thing to bounce a check now and again. That'll cost you roughly $25, give or take depending on your bank's policies. But writing a check you know won't clear is against the law. If you're expecting deposits, make sure they've all cleared before writing a check for anything else.
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