25 Ways you waste money – learn how to stop
Do you waste money on frivolous things? It is definitely easy to do with all the constant bombardment of advertising. Let’s face it, we live in a consumer society where spending is the norm. Plus, it is SO easy to waste money if you really aren’t keeping track.
In fact, according to a recent study from Comet, around 80% of people in America are in debt. (source: cometfi.com)
However, if you are looking to get out of debt or save, it is best to find ways to cut costs and starting small is key.
I suggest keeping a spending journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but I challenge you to write everything you buy for the next week. You will be amazed at how many ridiculous things you are wasting money on and how these little purchases can land you in debt.
What do you waste money on? You are sure to find a few ideas in this post.
Try cutting back and putting some of your leftover money into savings, investing, or a retirement fund.
Over time, you will watch your money grow and you will be glad you did. You will not miss these wastes of money!
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25 of the Biggest Waste of Money to Cut From Your Budget
1. Delivery Fees
Sure we all like to order a good pizza now and then, but by using delivery you are adding $8-10 to your total bill. If you order pizza once a week that is $36-$40 per month you could be investing instead. Most pizza places charge a delivery fee of $3-$5 plus tip, so $8-10 more than if you had picked up the food yourself. This is not only true for pizza but any delivery food order. Plus, it is so easy to have food delivered with Uber Eats and different food delivery services today but the fees add up over time and you are wasting money you could be saving or using to live debt-free.
Try ordering your pizza while at work and swinging by the restaurant on your way home to save money. Or better yet, make your pizza at home for a healthier, cheaper version. Also, I even enjoy a good Digorno or Freschetta pizza now and then for around $5.
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2. Eating Out
Yes, ordering pizza is usually cheaper than eating out at a restaurant, but why not skip eating out and ordering food altogether and make your meals at home. Don’t think you are organized enough? Try meal planning. Meal planning is my number one way to save money each week. By meal planning, you are able to make a list of everything you need and you can avoid stopping at the store every day. You will save time and money by meal planning and eating at home.
If you want to learn more about meal planning and premade meal plans, click the link below:
Best meal planning bundle
3. Buying $5 Coffee
Yes, your morning coffee is draining your budget. Many people complain they do not have extra money to put toward savings. Yet, after using a spending journal for a week, you realize there are so many little things that drain your budget.
We all have something we waste money on, whether it be expensive coffees, clothing, ordering take out, or a fast food habit. I’m not asking you to give up your habit completely, just try scaling back. Let’s look at the numbers. If you spend $5 on a coffee every day, you are spending $35 per week. That is $140 per month and $7280 per year. Wow! Imagine how much money you would have if you took that $7280 and invested it. You would be WAY ahead of most Americans and with the power of compound interest, you could retire early with that kind of money in the bank.
Wasting money on coffee example:
$5 coffee x 7 = $35 per week
$35 x 4 weeks = $140
$5 x 52 weeks per year = $7280
Wow! When you total out your spending habits and look at what you spend over the course of a year, it paints a different picture. Did you know you were spending that kind of money on coffee or whatever little thing you buy? Do you stop at the gas station to buy snacks every day? Do you make a drive-through run at lunch?
Ask yourself what you can cut out and put back in your wallet.
I love making my coffee at home to save money. I use Caribou coffee or Starbucks coffee in these refillable k-cups
Check out my favorite refillable k-cups here
Pro Tip: Fill your refillable k-cups for the week on Sunday evening. You will thank yourself in the morning.
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4. Paying for Individual Tickets
When you go to the zoo, aquarium, or museum do you buy individual tickets? Often times if you plan on going more than once per year, it makes sense to buy the annual pass. We started doing this with the zoo because we live right across the street and our zoo has free concerts, events, and an amazing playground. So it was worth it for us to buy the family pass for $79. By visiting the zoo just two times as a family we broke even because adult tickets are $16.
However, since we are so close we visit the zoo at least once a week in the summer so the pass is well worth the money. The next time you visit one of these places, do the quick math and ask yourself if you plan on coming back through the course of a year. You can save yourself money upfront by purchasing an annual pass. If you are like me and love to get your monies worth, you will make sure to use it enough so you break even.
5. Going to Late Movies
Why not take the family to a matinée’? You can score movie tickets for half the price and yes, you are seeing the same movie. This makes sense for families because we don’t want to keep little ones up too late anyway. Many theatres offer discounted tickets before noon and then have a more expensive matinée price lasting from noon to five or six depending on your theatre. If you can get your little ones up by noon you will score the best deal on movie tickets.
Another great movie option is to have a family movie night at home. Rent a Redbox and make some popcorn. Snuggle up with your kids on the couch and enjoy!
6. Not Signing up for Rewards Programs
Signing up for rewards loyalty programs pays off if you shop at a store often and want coupon deals and savings. Two stores I frequent are CVS and Kroger. I have both cards and download digital coupons from my phone.
I have offered my card at CVS and Kroger cards to fellow shoppers ahead of me in line because I can’t stand to see people waste money. If you do not sign up for the store loyalty program, you miss out on BIG savings. I understand it is annoying to carry these cards with you every time you shop; however, most stores allow you to use your telephone number or phone app so no card-carrying required. One of my favorite ways to save without clipping coupons is to use my store loyalty card.
7. Not Filling up the Tank When the Price of Gas Goes Down
When you see the price of gas go down, fill up your tank. You can save money on your transportation costs with this one simple trick. A few months ago gas was down to $1.68. I was in sheer shock, but you know I filled up! Here are some other ways to save on gas.
8. Buying Gift Cards That Have Fees
Make sure to check the back of the card before you buy it. Does it require a fee?
A few years back, my friend wanted a specific mall gift card for Christmas. I was amazed that there was a $5 fee just to buy the card. I sheepishly bought it anyway, but in my mind, I was thinking about how I could have added five more dollars to her gift instead of wasting my money on the fee.
Many credit card such as a Visa Gift Card charge an activation fee which is usually around $3. It is best to find a store your friend or family member likes and put all the money toward his or her gift card.
I also like buying discounted gift cards. However, these do not always make the best gift because the gift card may have been partially used and the back numbers are scratched off when you sell it to the site. Yet, if you want a percent off your shopping, I recommend checking out my favorite gift card resale here!
9. Adding a Bunch of Items to Your Shopping Cart
Do you make a list when shopping? I find meal planning works best in terms of saving because every time you step into a store, you are tempted to buy extra items. If you are going to the store three to four times per week, this can add up. So use a meal plan instead and make sure you buy everything you need to make the meals on your meal plan.
Try using a meal plan and shopping once every two weeks. In this way, you always have the items you need on-hand and do not need to stop back at the store where you will most likely buy things you don’t need.
Make a list when grocery shopping and stick to it.
10. Buying Right Away
Have you heard of the 30-day rule? Using this rule, if you see a more expensive item you really want, wait 30 days and see if your strong desire to buy the item is still there. If it is, figures out if you can afford the item without putting in on a credit card. If you do not have the money upfront, set up a sinking fund and save up to pay cash for your item.
When buying pricier items, patience is your friend. You will find many times, you don’t care, need, or want the item anymore.
- Use the 30-Day Rule to Stop Spending and Start Saving
- How I Paid off $15,000 Worth of Student Loans the Day I Graduated
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More Ways to Avoid Wasting Money
11. Buying Lunch at Work
Yes, buying your lunch at work could be putting you in debt. It is often the smaller purchases that go unnoticed and add up after time. These purchases are killing your budget.
Instead, take your own lunch to work. If you are spending $6-10 per day on buying lunch, you will save $36-50 per week, assuming you work a five-day work week. Of course, you will still need to spend money on lunch, but you could buy some bread and lunch meat and a few snacks for under $10. That is a savings of $26-40 per week you could be using to pay off debt or save for retirement.
12. All-Inclusive Resorts for Vacations
There are many people I know that think this is the only way to vacation. Yet, fees for all-inclusive resorts and extremely pricey. In fact, I once stayed at an all-inclusive because it was for a family member’s wedding. However, I really didn’t care for the food and I was stuck eating it all week.
When my husband and kids and I go on vacation, we usually eat out a few nights and have a pizza night. The rest of our meals are in the room. We go to a grocery store and stock up on bread, lunch meat, cereal, milk, snacks, water, juice, fruit, and drinks. This runs us around $60 on food the first day, but we could literally spend WAY more than that every day on food if we went with the all-inclusive option or ate at a restaurant. We save thousands on every vacation.
13. Not Shopping Around
Before you make a purchase, shop around and make sure you are getting the best price. When it comes to groceries, your experience will help you decide the best prices at grocery stores so start paying attention when you shop. I like shopping at Target, Kroger, and Aldi for most of my groceries. Target is usually my main grocery store because I stack Cartwheel savings on top of my 5% RedCard savings. Plus, I can use coupons on top of that. I also like the quality of the store-brand items.
However, if you are making a big purchase such as a television or phone, don’t impulse buy the first one you see. Look online and find the best price and read the reviews. Make sure you are getting a quality product for your money.
14. Buying fast-food
Do you have a fast-food habit you need to kick? Yes, it is easy to go through the drive-through on your way home from work, but eating at fast food often becomes pricey and is bad for your health. As mentioned earlier, it is best to meal plan. When you create your meal plan select easy dinners for nights you are busy or tired from work. If you know you have the food at home, you will be less tempted to opt for fast food.
15. Keeping up with the latest trends
Fashion comes and goes and I am guilty of following fashion trends at times. However, if you buy the seasons hot fashion pants or shirt and it goes out of style two years later, you wasted your money. Opt for timeless fashion and try to minimize your wardrobe. Most people only wear a third of the clothes they own anyway.
Here are some awesome Amazon finds for under $25
16. Upgrading your phone to the newest version
Do you “need” the latest and greatest technology? You do not need a new iPhone every time a new version comes out. If you spent a lot of money on your phone, you should plan on keeping it for at least two or three years. I typically keep mine around five years, unless it breaks. Plus, you will not have to transfer all of your pictures and music to a new phone or learn how to use it. If your old phone isn’t broke, then don’t fix it. If you buy quality, continue to use it until you really need a new phone or tech gadget.
17. Buying your kid everything they want
Yes, your kids are going to test the limits and ask you to buy them things. Don’t let mom (or dad) guild sway your decision. If your kid needs a new pair of shoes, then, by all means, buy them. Yet, if they are asking for a new toy every week and after you buy the said toy it sits in their room for years unplayed with, then this is an area you are wasting money on and need to cut back.
Your child will start to learn that you value money and spend your money on “needs” first and wants if there is leftover money. You can explain how you have to pay for everything including your house/apartment and bills. Even young children can start to understand this concept. I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying them a toy once in a while, but every weekend will kill your budget.
18. Buying name brand products
Name brand isn’t always the best option. In fact, many store brand items are just as good. Yet, name-brand clothing items cost more but at times are made better. Try finding bargains on these items at stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
19. Buying expensive jewelry
Collecting expensive jewelry that you only wear for special occasions and it sits in your closet, is a waste of money. If you are trying to save, opt for a more economical option. Perhaps a sterling silver necklace that can be worn with several outfits.
Last Five Biggest Wastes of Money Ever
20. Buying bottled water
Not only are the bottles bad for the environment, buying small water bottles is pricey. Try a reusable water bottle and/or water filter.
We like this choice
21. Paying ATM/bank fees
Check with your bank and find out what fees you are paying. Does your checking account have a fee? Are you being charged to use other ATM’s? A simple solution: Find a bank close to your house, so you are not tempted to use a different ATM. Also, find a better checking account option that does not charge fees.
Here is a great online banking choice with a good interest rate:
Click here to check out one of the best online banks with the highest APY
22. Buying a new car
According to the book, “The Millionaire Next Door” many self-made millionaires buy used cars. Why? Because they know the value of buying used. Buying a new car is a waste of money because the car depreciated when you start driving off the lot. Instead, opt for a used car with low miles. You can score a bargain and still buy a car that is more or less new. We bought a used Ford Explorer and saved around $15,000 off the “new car” price. As a rule of thumb, you should only buy a car you can pay off within three years and always keep your eye out for bargain cars, especially from private sellers that need to sell. You may be able to continue buying next to new cars and selling yours for around what you paid if you take good care of your vehicle.
23. Paying late fees
Being unorganized is one reason many people wind up paying late fees. This is the biggest waste of money. Make sure you sign up for payment reminders on any bills that allow this feature. Many credit cards will alert you a few days before your bill is due so you do not forget. If you are continually forgetting to pay your bills you are throwing money away on nothing. Get organized and create a monthly budget and set an alarm on your phone before your bills are due. Also, try paying paper bills the same day they arrive so they do not end up in a pile of papers lost.
Free Bills Tracker Template PDF
24. Paying interest on your debt
Do you have debt? It is best to pay down debt so you are not paying interest on your loans or credit cards. In fact, if you are only paying the minimum you will never pay off your debt because the interest will continue to outway what you are paying. Stop wasting money and start a plan to pay down debt. Consider using Deve Ramsey’s debt snowball method and tackle your debt today.
Related: 11 Actionable Steps to Get Out of Debt and Live Better
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25. Paying extra airline fees
Learn how to pack and avoid paying extra airline fees at the gate. We have a method for this. After packing the suitcase and my husband weighs himself. Then he weighs himself while holding the suitcase and subtracts the difference. In this way, there are no surprises when we arrive at the airport.
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- 7 Things That are Killing Your Budget
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- Is Emotional Spending Ruining Your Budget?
Waste Money Conclusion
Wasting money is so easy. However, if you are ready to save and get out of debt, think of ideas that will help you cut back. Put that money away for an emergency fund, pay off debt, or save for retirement. It is never too late to start saving money and after a few months, you will see it is not as hard as you think! Keep a spending journal and learn what you waste money on. Try picking one or two items to cut from your budget and put that money away in a savings account. Ten years from now, you will be glad you did!
What do you waste your money on? Did you find something on the list that you can cut out of your budget? Leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you.
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