Your biggest money mistakes -- and how to avoid them

Overlooking small expenses

You might not give much thought to the cost of your morning lattes or the gossip magazines you toss in the cart at the supermarket, but those small costs add up to big bucks over time. In fact, a 2012 survey by the staffing firm Accounting Principals found that 50% of U.S. workers spent $1,000 per year on coffee and $2,000 per year on lunches.

"It’s money that could be used to fund a retirement account or emergency savings account," says Dorothy Barrick, financial manager for GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers manage their finances. "Instead, it’s slipping through your fingers."

Smart move: Pay with cash.

"When you’re using a credit card or debit card, it doesn’t seem like you’re spending real money," Barrick says. "When you spend cash, it’s much easier to track your expenses."

Barrick suggests deciding how much of your budget to allocate to small purchases and withdrawing that amount in cash. When the money runs out, it’s time to brew coffee at home and brown-bag lunches.

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