A couple of years ago I got an email from financial guru Dave Ramsey that listed 10 things that we Americans waste money on regularly. (Okay, it was just an email newsletter and not a direct email from Dave himself, but a girl can dream!) While the email was fairly informative, none of it really surprised me. However, it did serve as a good reminder that the day-to-day “little things” we spend money on can really add up to being BIG money-wasters! So I set out to find a few more items we spend money on unnecessarily, and of course I found MORE than a few! I found dozens and dozens of them! But for the sake of brevity, I decided to narrow it down to a more manageable list of 20. :-)
One quick note… I don’t mean to say that you should never spend money on these things! This is simply a list of easily overlooked purchases that can hurt your budget over time. But who doesn’t like to splurge every once in a while? “Everything in moderation,” as they say!
20 Things You Might Be Wasting Your Money On
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1. Bottled Water
It is easy to overlook a small amount spent on bottled water everyday, but it adds up! A 16-ounce bottle of water costs about $1.50. Buy a bottle of water five days a week, and you’ll spend $30 a month and $360 a year.
2. Credit Card Interest
If you’re not paying your credit card balance off in full each month, you’re wasting money on interest. Carrying a $1,000 balance on a card that charges 18% costs nearly $200 every year.
3. Unused Gym Memberships
Unfortunately, when your commitment to work out wanes, the monthly dues don’t stop. Besides, you can run around the block for free.
4. Late Fees
If you miss a credit card payment by even one day, you will pay a late fee of $25 ($35 if it’s the second time in six months.)
Most restaurants already have portions so big you need a box to bring home the leftovers. Unless you are absolutely starving, you will fill up on the appetizer and wind up wasting money on an entree that never gets eaten.
6. Overdraft Fees
If you add correctly and make a concerted effort to spend less than you make, you don’t ever have to pay a dime in overdraft fees.
7. Expedited Shipping
If you do your shopping online, you often can avoid paying for shipping by having your purchases shipped to a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store or by taking advantage of free shipping promotions.
8. Deal Websites
I went through a Groupon phase, and wasted a lot of money. I misjudged my motivation to actually go and try that new place across town.
9. Designer Baby Clothes
It’s probably not worth it to spend $20 on a single onesie. That onesie will likely end up covered in stains, or the child will quickly outgrow it anyway!
10. ATM Fees
It’s not just two bucks here or $3 there. It adds up. Fast.
11. Forgotten Movie Rentals
Red Box may only be a buck a night, but rent two and leave them behind the sofa, and that can add up quickly.
12. Unhealthy Habits
Americans burn $44 billion on tobacco and $50 billion on alcohol each year, and that doesn’t begin to take into account the indirect costs related to drinking and smoking. Bottom line: both of these can cost you your health as well as your wealth.
13. Premium Cable Packages
Be honest, you probably don’t watch 90% of the channels that you get with a premium cable package. I know I don’t! Plus, you can get a lot of the same shows on streaming services, which cost about $10 per month compared to ten times that amount for a cable package!
14. Lottery Tickets
Your odds of winning big are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 13 million. With odds like that, the chances of you recouping what you spent on those tickets are slim to none.
15. $5 Coffee Drinks
If you must get your coffee on the go, stick to a gas station or convenience store to lessen the daily blow to your bank account.
16. Tickets & Citations
Speeding and parking illegally is a huge waste of money. Plus, one speeding ticket can raise your insurance rates 10-15%. Do you REALLY save that much time anyway?
17. Not Planning Meals
Without a plan, you risk wasting money at the grocery store or on fast food.
18. Dry Cleaning
Unless the label says “dry clean only,” you can more often than not get away from washing your dress pants, button-up shirts and dresses in cold water. Skip the dryer and hang or lay flat to dry.
19. Magazine Subscriptions
Do you have a large pile of magazines that you’ve been meaning to read? Cancel those subscriptions! You’ll never notice they’re gone. (And if you do, it’s better to buy one issue for $5 when you know you really want to read it.)
20. Premium Gasoline
Many drivers assume using a “premium” gasoline will make their car perform better. That’s not necessarily true! You won’t go faster, get better mileage, or run cleaner using premium fuel. (Some cars may see a minuscule boost in performance, but it wouldn’t make a noticeable difference to the average driver.) Switch to the lower octane options at the pump and see the savings add up.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? I know I’m definitely guilty of many of them. Like I said, this was a good reminder to me of the things I have gotten too relaxed about lately. So here’s to a future with fewer “money leaks” for all of us!