No matter where you go or what you do, you are bombarded with advertisements to buy things. Nowhere are you safe, not even playing games on your phone! In some cases, the advertisements are beneficial to you – they help you to save money on the products you use regularly. But other times the ads get you to buy things you don’t need and is one of the many ways you are wasting money.
Below is a great list of 28 of the biggest ways you are wasting money. While the product or service seems as though it fills a need in your life, at the end of the day, you are spending money on something that isn’t worth it. Let’s look at these wastes of money.
28 Biggest Ways You Are Wasting Money
#1. Basic Computer Software: Thinking of purchasing a new computer? Think twice before you fork over the funds for a bunch of extra software. There are some great alternatives to the name brand software programs you are familiar with.
For example, you can opt not to get Microsoft Office and instead use software like OpenOffice, LibreOffice or Google Docs.
When it comes to protecting your computer, you can get free virus protection from the likes of Trend Housecall Online and Avast. All are completely free and do a great job. I use many of them myself every day!
#2. Your Credit Report: You don’t have to pay for your credit report. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com, the only truly free place to see all three of your credit reports for free once a year. Even better, learn how to get your credit report for free, 3 times a year!
#3. Your Credit Score: While the above link will only get you your credit report for free, there is no reason to pay for your credit score either. This wasn’t the case just a few years ago, but more and more companies are offering a free credit score.
If you have a Discover IT card, you get your FICO score for free on your monthly statement. If you don’t have that credit card, don’t worry, as Credit Sesame is another option to get a free credit score.
#4. Cell Phone: The days of being stuck to Verizon or AT&T are over. You now have many options for saving money on cell phones. You can go the prepaid route or you can go with a reseller. Many of these resellers lease bandwidth from the towers or from AT&T and Verizon. I use Cricket. They use AT&T towers (and were recently bought by AT&T). For $35 a month, I get unlimited calls and texts and 4 GB of data. Before this I was spending close to $100 for less. If you sign up here, you’ll get a $25 credit on your first bill!
#5. Books: Remember the library? Stop by and put your favorite book on reserve for free. Of course in today’s internet age, you don’t even need to go to the library. Visit PaperBackSwap and find your books there (small shipping fees apply) or go to Amazon and find your local library to borrow books for your Kindle.
#6. Buying Everything For Your Kids: I know, you want to please your kids and buy them things. But if you buy them everything they want all of the time, you are teaching them poor money habits.
As they grow up, they won’t understand the concept of not being able to afford something and won’t be able to distinguish between needs and wants. This will ultimately lead them to getting into massive amounts of debt and added stress. It might hurt at first, but teaching them good money habits now will pay off down the road.
#7. Water: Why do we pay for bottled water? It’s something that I have never figured out and in my mind, one of the biggest ways you are wasting your money. In fact, it gives me a headache when I think about it. The solution is simple: buy a durable water bottle and take it with you wherever you go. No more spending money for bottled water.
#8. Credit Card: With so many credit cards available today, it’s easy to find a credit card without an annual fee. Unless there is a credit card reward perk that a fee card brings you, skip the card with an annual fee and pocket that money yourself.
#9. Credit Card (Part 2): In addition to the annual fee is the interest charges on balances. While paying $25-$30 a month might not seem like a huge sum of money, it really is. Not only does it add up over time, but in most cases, it’s around 18%. That is crazy high! If you are in credit card debt, take control of your debt and create a plan to get out, once and for all. If you want help with making a detailed plan, check out this awesome app.
#10. Debt Reduction Help: Speaking of credit cards, if you’re in over your head with credit card debt and need some help, there are many free sources you can turn to for help with your debt. No one is going to be able to magically wipe away your debts, but there is help out there that will set you up on a debt reduction plan you can handle. Start with a visit to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Don’t go with the companies you hear on the radio or see on late night TV. They prey on people to use their services.
#11. Buying On Impulse: Buying on impulse is one of the biggest ways you are wasting money as it often results in the purchase of useless things at unjustifiable prices. The most effective way to control impulse buying is to make a list of things to buy before going shopping. A shopping list forces you to stick to the things that you will need.
#12. Lottery Tickets: The odds you are going to win are slim to none. So if you play to win a billion dollars, stop. Save that money instead. It will grow over time into more money than you will likely ever win. If you play for fun here and there, that is another story. But if you play on a regular basis to improve your finances, you will never get ahead.
#13. Basic Tax Preparation: If your tax situation isn’t that complicated, then you should probably be preparing your own tax return using one of the many free online services. It’s now common for e-filing to be free as well with many services. Don’t spend hundreds on a tax preparer when you can do it yourself and save some money.
#14. The News: You can get most of the news for free online; there is no need to pay for a newspaper subscription. An added tip: some sites now have free articles for guests to read and restricted articles for subscribers. My solution: I Google the story. In many cases, I will find it elsewhere for free. Otherwise I wait a few days and it usually becomes free.
#15. Not Having A Budget: Without a good budget, it is easy to waste money on unimportant things and leave out the important things, like saving for a rainy day. Your budget doesn’t need to be super complex, just create a basic budget and start following it so you are spending the money you work so hard for in the best ways possible. You can start out using excel spreadsheets or an automated option if you like that approach more.
#16. Rent-To-Own: If you can’t afford to buy something outright, then you really can’t afford it in the first place. The only exception is a house. But a computer, TV, couch, etc. should never be rented to own. In the long run you spend so much more going this route. Be patient, save some money until you have enough to buy it. It will help you to value the item more and teach you about hard work and earning money.
#17. Pets: Skip the stores or the people that breed pets. You can find an awesome pet at your local shelter. They come with all of their shots and immunizations too! They just need a little loving from you. (Some shelters may have you “pay” in the form of a donation to help the shelter continue to run.)
#18. Shipping: More and more retailers offer free shipping assuming you spend a certain dollar amount. But don’t just buy more stuff to save a few bucks on shipping charges. Wait until you need enough items to qualify for free shipping. Another option is to try FreeShipping which offers codes for free shipping. Check it out!
#19. Gas Additives: As long as you have been maintaining your car properly, you will have no need for these products. With a computer controlling so much of your car’s engine, these additives have become obsolete. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tested these products and none have shown to increase your MPG enough to warrant using the additive.
#20. Online Shopping: Taking from the shipping point above, you can easily save money on the things you buy online. One easy method is to use a shopping portal like ebates. Another option is to use a coupon site like RetailMeNot where you can get promo codes to enter at checkout. With all of the online promo codes, you should almost never pay full price shopping online.
#21. Tipping Too Much: It is easy to get carried away and give tips to every waiter, security guard, concierge, hairstylist and janitor who comes across as friendly. By the time you realize how much money you have thrown away, the damage will have already have been done. To avoid over-tipping, tip only the most deserving candidates and only in justifiable amounts.
#22. Watching Television: We waste so much time watching television. And when we watch, we see ads for stuff we really don’t need (even though the commercial convinces us we do!). Stop wasting time and money and do something productive. Go for a walk. Spend time with your family. Read a book. Take class and learn. Brainstorm a new way to earn some money on the side.
#23. Checking Account: Checking should be free. Sadly, many banks now charge for the service – which is another of the biggest ways you are wasting money. If yours isn’t free then move to one of the many banks that offers a checking account for free. I use Capital One 360 and highly recommend it! If you open an account with Capital One 360, you can get $25 for free!
#24. DVD Rentals: Rent DVD’s from RedBox locations for $1 a night and save some money compared to iTunes. They even have free rental codes too. Additionally, most libraries now have free DVD rentals as well. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you get a huge selection of free rentals as part of your membership.
#25. Exercise: Skip the gym memberships. Visit your local park for a walk or run. You can do body weight exercises like push-ups, chin-ups, and sit-up in your home. Or, rent a workout DVD from the library. There are many free workout programs you can download online as well.
#26. Smoking: This one has to be on the list. And I’m talking any kind of smoking – the traditional cigarette or even vaping. You waste so much money this way. Take 5 minutes to do the math and see for yourself. If you smoke to relieve stress or calm down, find another outlet. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.
#27. Investments: Investing is a big way people are wasting money. Not so much with financial advisor fees, but more with expense fees from mutual funds and trading fees. To keep your trading fees in check, find a low cost broker using this chart. For expense fees with mutual funds, read this post on why you should care about the fees your pay and then check out an automated way to invest to save on these fees.
#28. Having A Negative Attitude: Look on the bright side of all situations. It may take some time find the good in a situation, but it is there, even if it is a small thing. I feel that many of the things that have happened to me are a result of me having a positive attitude and looking for the good in every situation. I try to learn from everything. This helps me to avoid making the same mistakes twice.
Many times we waste money when we are tired or are in bad moods. If you become more positive, you will keep more of your money.
Final Thoughts On Wasting Money
This list only covered 28 of the biggest ways you are wasting money. I’m sure you can think of more very easily. If you are doing any of the biggest wastes listed, you are essentially throwing money away. Take some time to fix your mistakes so that you can start saving that money instead!
It’s not easy admitting we aren’t perfect, but the reality is, we aren’t. The sooner we accept this and start learning from our mistakes, the sooner we can start changing our finances around for the better.