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11 Items With Hidden Costs

The purchase price may be just the start of what you’ll have to pay

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    Swimming Pools

    Special advertised prices may tempt you to take the plunge, but required construction costs – retaining walls, extra concrete sidewalks, landscaping and fencing – might not be included in the deal. A Wall Street Journal report estimated that it costs approximately $3,000 a year to operate a pool after factoring in chemicals, opening and closing services, maintenance, repairs, utilities and – don’t forget – water.  

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    Leasing a Car

    While leasing might allow you to drive a more expensive car with a lower monthly payment, there’s a bigger hit to your bottom line than you may realize. Rather than quote the interest rate included in your payments, dealers use what’s called a “money factor” for leased vehicles. If you want to convert this hidden interest rate into the annual percentage rate (APR) equivalent so you can compare the cost of leasing to buying, multiply the money factor by 2,400. Take special note of any mileage limits or damage fees, as these can add up when it’s time to turn in the car.

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    Cruises

    Before you book a cabin, remember that the advertised price doesn’t include the tips you’ll need to pay, which normally are about $12 per person per day, with an additional 15 percent gratuity on any bar tabs. Other hidden costs that can add up quickly include overpriced beverages, shore excursions, spa services, fitness classes, Internet or phone usage, and alternative dining. And, of course, don’t forget transportation costs to and from the port from which you’ll be sailing.

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    Home Warranties

    Purchasing a home warranty to cover future repairs might relieve some stress when buying an older home, but be certain to read the contract’s fine print to see what’s really covered. Expect a copay each time something breaks. If a single problem requires multiple repair services, you’ll have a copay for each specialist. Mechanical systems within the home may be subject to maximum coverage limits, and preexisting conditions are often not covered. Other home items, such as gas fireplaces or appliances, may be excluded entirely.

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    Cable, Satellite TV and Internet

    We’ve all seen the advertised big discounts for bundling TV and Internet services, but be  prepared for some unpleasant surprises when you’re hit with activation fees, installation fees and box and modem rental fees. If you later experience a service problem, expect to pay service call fees, sometimes even if it’s company equipment that’s malfunctioning. Once you’re fed up with all that, remember: There’s almost always a cancellation fee.

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    Rental Cars

    Anyone who has rented a car has faced that sticker-shock moment at the counter. The taxes and fees on rental car services are often astronomical, and if you’re near an airport, there’s probably an airport surcharge of 10 percent or more. Don’t forget potential charges for insurance, prepaid gasoline, additional driver fees, age penalties and drop-off if you’re returning the car to a different location. 

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    Banking Services

    According to a recent WalletHub.com survey, the average bank now charges 30 associated fees on checking accounts, such as overdraft charges and monthly maintenance fees for failing to maintain a minimum balance. Watch out for ATM fees if you use another bank’s machine. When traveling abroad, you may be charged for using a foreign bank’s ATM. If you’re a cheapskate like me and don’t access your accounts for long periods, you could be assessed an inactivity fee.  

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    Timeshares

    Timeshares offer you the chance to buy a piece of your vacation dream destination, but you’re signing up for a lot more than you might expect. Advertised purchase prices usually don’t include transfer or recording fees. Once you own the share, expect to pay annual maintenance fees, which average $822, according to the American Resort Development Association. If you hope to trade with other timeshare owners, you may have to pay vacation club memberships.  Finally, you may find that your timeshare is difficult to sell.

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    Weddings

    The average American wedding now costs roughly $30,000. Some expenses that might not be included in the base price of an item or service: wedding dress alterations and steaming; cake-cutting and corkage fees; additional transportation for rental equipment and supplies; overtime fees for musicians, photographers and caterers; and taxes and gratuities. Some venues may charge additional if you use caterers or florists who aren’t among their “preferred vendors.”  

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    Cellphones

    Cheapism.com says unexpected fees can add up to 40 percent to your monthly cellphone bill. In addition to federal fees, plans often include overage charges for data and talk as well as convenience fees should you decide to pay your bill by phone or in person. While there are thousands of free apps available, downloading premium apps and music can add significantly to the cost of phone service. Also, early termination fees may apply if you want to change providers.

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    Assisted Living

    With unexpected add-ons, the true cost of these facilities may be higher than your initial estimate. The basic package at many assisted living facilities includes a safe and secure place to live and usually a meal plan. Personal care services (help with bathing and dressing), keeping track of and administering medications, and providing transportation for medical appointments often come with an additional charge. Since you might have to pay extra for these services either way, in-home care may be a cheaper option for older people who want to remain in their own homes but need some extra help.

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