50 Things to Stop Wasting Money On
Sure, you can probably make a case for needing a few of the items on this list, but most of us could find more wiggle room in the budget if we stopped wasting money on these 50 things.
It’s no surprise people waste a lot of their money, but there are plenty of ways to save on everyday costs, from bank fees to your favorite morning beverages. If you’re looking for ways to trim your expenses, here’s a list of 50 common money-wasters you may want to ditch.
1. ATM Fees
Paying for ATM fees is like feeding your money into a paper shredder. To avoid them, make a habit of carrying cash or take your business to a bank that doesn’t charge fees.
2. Bottled Water
Not only does bottled water cost more, many cities’ tap water is often as clean. Save the money for your utility bill.
3. Bulk Groceries
It is common to think that buying in bulk would cut multiple trips to the grocery store, but it may not save much time or money if you buy more than you need. To stop wasting food, try shopping more often.
4. Cell Phone Data
If a large chunk of your paycheck goes to cell service, it’s time for some changes. Consider switching providers or downgrading to a lower-cost plan.
Could you really save thousands by skipping your morning coffee? Maybe not, but you’ll definitely have more cash in your pocket if you curb that $5-a-day latte habit.
6. Fancy Gadgets
Why blow your discretionary money on kitchen gizmos you’ll never use? Instead of splurging on the latest impulse buy, take stock of what you have at home and determine what you really need. You could even make extra cash by selling appliances you don’t use.
7. Flavored Beverages
Sugary beverages like fruit juice and soda don’t just make you gain weight, but also they could lead to brain damage, say researchers at Boston University. Those who drink sugary beverages are more likely to have poorer memory while those who drink diet soda daily are nearly three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. It could benefit your budget and your body to cut back.
You may not be able to change your commute, but you can definitely save more on gas. Try using smartphone apps like GasBuddy, which show the cheapest gas stations nearby, and consider applying for a gas rewards card if you hit the pump often. Explore other money-saving options like carpooling, public transportation, or bike commuting.
To pay less to power your home, consider installing dimmer switches and ceiling fans and using LED light bulbs. Here are more tips for saving on electric bills.
Why spend more on hotels than vacations? You can easily save on your next hotel stay. Search online for promo codes, shop around, and make off-season plans.
11. Late Fees
Making a late payment not only results in costly fees, but it can also torpedo your credit. To avoid paying late fees, consider automating your bill statements, signing up for text and email reminders, or paying online.
Have you overspent your way into debt?
Make a plan to get back out. Get How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have and create a debt payoff plan personalized to your budget and lifestyle.
12. Manis & Pedis
Frittering away $10 on a manicure here and $20 on a pedicure there can add up. Why pay someone for a service you can do yourself? Save the manis and pedis for special occasions or do away with them altogether.
Stop splurging on your favorite magazines at the counter and get a subscription already. You’ll save more and enjoy seeing them in your mailbox. Better yet, read them online. Conversely, if you’re buying issues faster than you can read them, maybe it’s time to pare down.
14. Name-Brand Groceries
Don’t overpay for name-brand labels. Generic products cost less and boast comparable quality. Here’s a look at how to save with generic store brands.
15. Overdraft Fees
You don’t need to pay for the privilege of spending more than what’s in your checking account, especially when it costs around $35 per overdraft. From adding a cash cushion to enrolling in online alerts, there are plenty of ways to say goodbye to overdraft fees for good.
16. Poop Bags
Spending $5 on a box of doggie poop bags? That’s a load of you-know-what. Try reusing old grocery or produce bags instead.
17. Ride-Sharing Services
Catching an Uber or Lyft is great when you’re short on time (or too tired for public transportation), but that money adds up. Score promo codes from friends or suck it up and take the bus.
18. Sandwich Bags
Cut the cost of new Ziplocs and try washing and reusing your old sandwich bags instead or get a sandwich box.
Rumor has it we’re washing our hair too often. Ditch the frizz and the cost of new suds by slowing down your shampoo schedule.
Just like coffee, smoothies are one of those tasty treats you can easily make at home.
21. Lottery Tickets
The odds are long, and no matter how much you spend, you’re not guaranteed to win. Your state sells them to make money. Your’s! Put that money into your investments instead.
Related: Why You Shouldn’t Play the Lottery
22. Airline Fees
Airfare is costly, and paying for things like blankets, headphones, and peanuts only adds to the hassle. Consider changing how you pack, flying low-cost carriers, or signing up for one of those airline miles cards that can earn you rewards.
23. Gift Cards
All too often, gift cards go unused. A number of websites would be happy to buy them while other cards can be donated to charity.
24. Traffic Tickets
Traffic tickets are outrageously priced, and some municipalities send records of unpaid fines to collection agencies. Neglect them long enough, and your license could be suspended. Worse still, those tickets could mean a big increase to your car insurance premium.
Markups on beer at restaurants can be as much as four times the wholesale price, so it wouldn’t hurt to cut back. Consider making your drinks at home or checking out BYOB dining options to avoid paying premium prices.
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Your tobacco habit isn’t just draining your wallet, but it’s also harming your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, adults spent nearly $170 billion on medical costs due to smoking-related illnesses.
Most candy has no nutritional value, and we know it’s bad for our teeth. Next time you get cravings, stay away from the vending machine. Better yet, keep some healthful snacks on hand to eat instead.
The costs of gambling are nothing to sniff at, and certain behaviors, like using your credit card to chase an online jackpot, can damage your credit if you’re not careful.
29. Credit Card Interest
Paying interest on your credit card balance is a poor use of money. Consider negotiating with your issuer for a lower rate, making monthly payments in full, or opening a low-interest credit card. If you’re determined to get out of credit card debt, applying for a balance-transfer credit card may be worth your while, if you can get a 0% promotional APR to save money while you chip away at the balance.
30. Payday Loans
If you don’t repay a payday loan as soon as you can, you could get hit with sky-high APRs, some of which are as much as 400%. Research alternatives like credit cards, personal loans, or borrowing money from family or friends.
31. Foreign Transaction Fees
So many credit cards have done away with these fees, so why pay them? After all, they can cost as much 2% to 3% of each purchase. If you travel internationally, consider getting a card without any foreign transaction fees.
32. Simple Home Repairs
Don’t spend hundreds on a professional if you know how to fix that air condtioner or leaky faucet yourself. Youtube videos will show you how.
You may think you’re saving time by having lunch delivered at work, but you’re paying a premium for the convenience. You should order take-out instead and save the five bucks.
With all the streaming services out there, paying for cable is a thing of the past. Consider cutting the cord and commit to one or two subscriptions you’ll actually use.
You don’t have to drop money on books, especially books you’ll only read once. Make use of your local library or ask a friend to lend you a copy.
36. Unused Gym Membership
What good is having a membership you hardly use? Ditch the monthly payment for good and find an activity you’ll actually stick with.
37. Buying Lunch
Blowing $10 to $15 on forgettable lunches is a recipe for regret. Try one of these $2 lunches.
38. In-Game Purchases
As any Candy Crush fanatic will tell you, in-game purchases quickly add up. Disconnect your credit card and find something better to do.
39. Individually Packed Foods
Baby carrots? Sliced apples? Grab your chef’s knife and get chopping. There is no need to pay for these items.
40. Full-Priced Clothes
If secondhand shopping isn’t your thing, you can still save money by browsing seasonal sales or keeping an eye out for price drops.
41. Online Shipping
With all the promo codes out there, why pay for shipping? If you must order online and can’t avoid a shipping fee, consider picking up the item in store.
42. Holiday Gifts
Don’t rush out to buy when everyone’s shopping. Follow the sales.
43. Valentine’s Day Flowers
As with holiday gifts, there’s a right and a wrong time to order Valentine’s Day flowers. (The worst time is February 14th.) One study found mid-January is the best time to order a dozen red roses.
44. Dry Cleaning
Not everything in your closet needs the wrinkle-free treatment. In fact, many clothes do just fine in the washer and dryer. Be sure to check garment tags before you visit the cleaners.
45. Fad Exercise Classes
Whatever the current exercise fad is now, you’ll wish you had that $33 when it’s gone out of vogue. Following trends is costly, so find an exercise you’re going to stick with.
46. Rental Car Insurance
Why pay for insurance your credit card probably offers? Be sure to read the details so you know what’s covered before you get to the rental counter.
47. Closing Costs
From shopping around to negotiating with the seller, there are plenty of ways to save on your future home’s closing costs.
For many consumers, refinancing their home loan could help them save bundles. Of course, the best rates go to those with good credit scores, so be sure to check yours before you apply. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
49. Student Loans
Student loan debt is a major financial burden, but there are ways to lighten the load. Consolidation could alter your repayment period, and making payments before the interest kicks in could help you save extra. Be sure to research your options.
Related: Refinance Student Loans
Speaking of student loans, you may be able to deduct a portion of student loan interest from your taxable income by claiming the student loan interest tax deduction.
Reviewed June 2022
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