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.
Why is it important to understand how you are wasting money?
Because for many of you, by becoming aware of these wastes, you can make adjustments and start saving money instead.
The result will be a larger bank account balance at the end of the month.
Or if you are smart, you move the money you stop wasting into a savings account and grow your wealth so you have more options in life.
Just look at this example for proof.
I have a friend Jeremy who has always been a mess with money.
For him, his paycheck is spent before he even gets to payday!
It was so bad that at one point, he was already spending money not from his next paycheck, but from 4 paychecks in the future!
Luckily this was his wake up call and he decided to make a change.
So I sat down with him one Friday night and we went over his spending for the previous month.
We highlighted everything he spent money on that wasn’t a need for him to live.
In other words, if it wasn’t necessary housing, car or food purchases, it was flagged.
Then we scanned through this list and took a look at things.
Our goal wasn’t to cut out all the extra spending and have him live like a hermit.
We just wanted to cut out the wasted spending as well as some other questionable items.
Once we had the list complete, he went to work.
For a full month he stuck to only spending money on things that we didn’t identify as wastes.
Guess how much money he saved that month.
He saved $385!
Again, he is still spending a lot of money. He only cut out the handful of things we identified as wastes of money.
Fast forward to today and Jeremy is still working on his finances.
He has been better with his spending and as a result is putting over $300 a month into his savings account.
And he is loving every minute of it!
He doesn’t feel like he is missing out by not buying everything he sees.
You too can start freeing up money by stopping wasteful spending.
Below is a great list of 25 of the biggest wastes of money.
This isn’t intended to replace any work on your part.
You still should review your spending and highlight the various ways you are wasting money.
But it will give you ideas as to what are wastes and how you can still enjoy something by choosing a low cost or free alternative.
25 Biggest Wastes Of Money
#1. Buying On Impulse
Buying on impulse is one of the biggest wastes of money as it often results in the purchase of useless everyday items at unjustifiable prices.
To get a rough idea on how many times you buy on impulse, think back to all the purchases you regret.
These were all impulse buys.
And this doesn’t include all the impulse buys you make grocery shopping either.
Think now of how many times you go grocery shopping and buy random things.
You buy ice cream because you feel bad. You buy the bag of chips because you had a rough day.
You buy the microwavable dinner because it’s late. And you need a desert to go with it too!
The bottom line is impulse buys cost you a lot of money.
They may not total a lot of money on their own, but when looked at as a whole, they are clearly one of the biggest money wasters.
Therefore it is critical to get this under control.
How to overcome this spending mistake: There are a few tricks you should start using to limit impulse buys.
Here are my favorites.
- Take a picture. Find all of the things you regret buying and pile them high and take a picture with your phone. When you go shopping, look at that picture to remind yourself how much you waste money.
- Play the waiting game. Another option is to play the waiting game. When you see something you want but don’t need, take a picture of it and leave. In a week or two, look back at the picture and see if you still want it. Odds are you won’t.
- Play the future me game. Similar to the above, this time you need to ask yourself how this item is going to be used in the future to benefit you. Ask yourself how your life will be better with this item and how will you by using it. By asking these questions, you will realize quickly when you are about to make a dumb spending choice.
- Play the right now game. This game is perfect for clothing purchases. When you are trying on a piece of clothing or are ready to buy, ask yourself if you would wear the item right now. I’ve found many times this will help me to realize when I’m about to make a purchase I will later regret. Granted, this doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it does work more often than not.
By limiting your impulse buys, you can easily save $100 or more every single month.
Because of this, it is critical you start with impulse buys when looking at how you waste your money.
#2. Watching TV
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!
I can’t tell you how many times a commercial pulls me in and almost convinces me that I need their product or I won’t be able to live.
I’m sure the same thing has happened to you too.
And it’s not just the commercials that are costing you.
The time you spend watching TV is time you could be doing other things to improve your life.
How to overcome this spending mistake: The simple answer is to stop watching TV and do something productive with your time.
Read a book. Go for a walk. Play with your kids.
There are endless things you can do other than watch television.
And trust me when I say that your life won’t be ruined if you miss the latest episode of your favorite show or sporting event.
Take me as a perfect example.
I love watching sports.
The bad news is that many of the big games start at 8pm or later and so to watch the entire game, I need to stay up until midnight and miss out on sleep.
In my younger days, I would do this and power through the following day.
But even though I would get through the day, I was running on fumes because I was tired.
I wasn’t as productive. I was irritable. I had a bad attitude.
So I stopped staying up late for all the games.
The next morning, I do have a small feeling of wishing I watched the game, but it is a fleeting feeling.
In reality, I didn’t miss out at all.
The easiest things you can do is DVR the event or show.
This way you can fast forward through commercials and you can watch some shows, like sporting events in fast forward.
By watching less television and doing more productive things with your time, you improve yourself and your life, which only compounds into more success and options in life.
It’s the circle of life.
As you improve yourself, you have more doors that open to take advantage from.
This then leads to more success, which further improves your life and opens even more doors.
#3. Not Having A Budget
When you live without a budget, it is easy to overspend and waste money.
You have no idea where your money is going and if you are even getting ahead financially.
And when large purchases come up, your finances are in shambles because you didn’t save for it and now you are in credit card debt trying to play catch up.
How to overcome this spending mistake: The best option is to set up a budget so you know where your money is going.
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.
There are a lot of options when it comes to budgeting these days.
For starters, you can use a free template and fill in your spending.
Another option is to use a free app.
The only downside to using a free app is the company that runs the app has to make money. SO they either sell your information to advertisers or they have ads in the app.
In my opinion, the best option is a mesh between the two.
It is called Tiller.
It’s a spreadsheet budget but they automate it so all you have to do is spend 5 minutes a day to review it.
It also has a ton of add-ons to help you with every aspect of your financial life. I highly recommend you look into it.
#4. Basic Computer Software
Thinking of purchasing a new computer?
When we buy a new computer, many times we need to add the programs we use, like Microsoft Office, antivirus software and photo editing programs.
These costs all add up.
And these many, many are moving away from the one-time purchase price and going to a monthly subscription model.
So while the initial cost is lower, you are paying a lot more over time.
How to overcome this spending mistake: 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. The days of being forced to use one type of program are gone.
#5. Your Credit Score
Knowing your credit score is important when it comes time for a large purchase like a house or a car.
The higher your score, the lower your interest rate, meaning you save money.
In prior years, you needed to go to each credit bureau and pay for your credit score.
Today, many people still pay even though they don’t have to.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Get your credit score for free from your credit card or other credit service.
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 CreditWise is another option to get a free credit score.
The bottom line is many places now offer a free credit score that will give you a good indication of what your score is.
#6. Cell Phone
The monthly cost for a cell phone keeps going up.
They try to trick you into thinking you are getting a good deal by changing things up.
First it was free nights and weekends.
Then it was unlimited texts.
Now it is unlimited calls and texts.
But even with all of the free stuff, your monthly bill continues to rise.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Shop around for better cell phone deals.
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.
For example there is Cricket.
They use AT&T towers (and were recently bought by AT&T).
For $35 a month, you get unlimited calls and texts and 10 GB of data.
Before this I was spending close to $100.
There are many others out there, so take a few minutes to save money on your cell phone bill.
I love reading books.
But they are expensive. And worse, there are a bunch of books that I read once and am done with.
I got tired of paying high costs for books so I started looking for better ways.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Stop buying new 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.
And if you have Amazon Prime, you can use Prime Reading to borrow books for free!
Here is a link to try Amazon Prime for $3.
You can even buy used books on Amazon or eBay for a lower cost as well.
#8. 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 and wasting money in the process.
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.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Start saying no.
It might hurt at first, but teaching them good money habits now will pay off down the road.
And as you begin to say no, they won’t throw a temper tantrum as often.
Why do we pay for bottled water?
It’s something that I have never figured out and in my mind, is a dumb thing to buy.
In fact, it gives me a headache when I think about it.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Stop buying bottled water and buy a water bottle instead.
By having a good water bottle, you can fill it up before you leave your house and have water everywhere you go.
Here is the water bottle I use and love.
It keeps my water cold all day long.
#10. Credit Cards
There are a couple of ways credit cards are a waste of money.
For starters, some have an annual fee.
This fee can be as high as $500 a year!
Another reason is high interest rates.
Paying $25 a month in interest doesn’t seem like a huge sum of money but it is.
Not only does it add up over time, but in most cases, it’s around 18%. That is crazy high!
How to overcome this spending mistake: Be smart about credit cards.
First, 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 and no other card offers, skip the card with an annual fee and pocket that money yourself.
Below is a great resource to find the perfect card for you.
When it comes to interest, one thing you can do is call the credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate.
They usually will agree, but it will only last for a short period of time, like 6 or 12 months.
The better option is to get out of credit card debt by making a plan.
I have written a lot of articles on how to do this and how I overcame my credit card debt as well.
#11. Debt Reduction Help
Speaking of credit cards, if you’re in over your head with credit card debt and need some help, don’t make the mistake of seeking the help of a debt reduction company.
While there are some decent firms out there, many are just wastes of money.
This is because they charge a fee to do something you can easily do yourself.
And worse, many will have you stop paying your debt so they can negotiate with the credit company.
The goal is to reduce the total amount of debt you have so you have less to pay back.
It sounds great, but by not making payments, you destroy your credit in the process.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Pay off your debt yourself or find a legit company to work with.
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.
They will help you find a company that will do the right things in helping you pay off your debt.
#12. Lottery Tickets
They say the lottery is a tax on the poor because poor people tend to play the lottery most.
The odds you are going to win are slim to none making this the biggest wastes of money for those who play.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Reduce the amount of money you spend on playing.
I understand that it is fun to play and experience the excitement as they read the numbers or you scratch off the ticket.
So by no means am I saying you can never play the lottery.
Just keep it to a minimum.
Maybe spend $5 a month playing and save the rest.
The money you will grow over time into more money than you will likely ever win.
For example, let’s say you spend $50 on lottery tickets and you cut back to $20.
You save the $30 and in a year you have $360 in savings. In 10 years you have close to $4,000 just from lottery tickets.
Put the money into a high yield savings account and you could have even more.
It’s easy to set up the transfer and then you sit back and let compound interest work its magic.
- Read now: Learn the power of compound interest
#13. 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.
While the monthly payments are low, in the long run you spend so much more going this route.
In all, renting to own is simply wasted money.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Save your money and buy the item.
Be patient, save some money until you have enough to buy it.
If you have $25 or $100 a month to rent the item, you can instead save this amount and buy the item instead.
And you don’t need brand new items either.
We use Facebook Marketplace for most of our furniture.
We just got a couch that was a year old for 80% off. It looks brand new and everyone that comes over is blown away that it is used.
#14. Home Repairs
We have a lot of things that break in our homes and need repairs.
Where this is a waste of money isn’t in the home itself, but how we go about repairing things.
Too many times we hire someone to do the work for us.
And many times this is a waste of money because you can do a lot of repairs yourself.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Take the time to learn how to fix things.
This isn’t to say you can never call a repair man to fix things.
But before you do, take 15 minutes and go online.
There are countless YouTube videos on every home repair you can imagine.
What some of the videos and see how difficult it looks to do it yourself.
Not only will you save money by DIYing it, but you will also have a sense of pride too.
And as an added bonus, as you do more and yourself, you will get better at it and will be able to handle some of the jobs that require a little more effort.
Online shopping has become popular for the ease in which you can get things.
Just order from your comfy couch and in a few days, the items arrive at your doorstep.
But the downside to this convenience is the added cost of shipping.
This fee can quickly add up and cost you a lot of money.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Seek out free shipping options.
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 search online for stores offering free shipping.
Instead of buying what you need at one retailer, maybe another one has the same items along with a promo for free shipping.
Finally, look into ship to store or curbside pickup.
With both of these, you place the order online and then go to the store to pick the item up, saving you on shipping costs.
Weddings are both fun and exciting as we witness people important in our lives join together.
But they are also very expensive and recently, have been putting people into debt.
Why couples want to start their new lives saddled with debt is just asking for disaster.
If you are getting married, it is critical you have a wedding you can afford.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Be more realistic about your wedding.
I’m not trying to imply having a wedding is a complete waste of money.
But we do waste a lot of time and money on things that don’t really matter.
For example, think of the last few weddings you attended.
Can you describe what the centerpieces looked like?
What about the invitations?
These things aren’t important and therefore don’t require a lot money to be spent on them.
Take the time to figure out what is most important to you about your wedding and spend money there.
For everything else, find lower cost alternatives.
At the end of the day, you can have an amazing wedding on a budget and no one will know it.
#17. Paying Full Price
Taking from the shipping point earlier, you should not pay full price for anything.
There is always room for a lower price, you just have to know how to get it.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Haggle on everything you buy.
It only takes 5 minutes but will save you a ton of money.
Before you buy anything in person, ask the cashier if there are any discounts.
They might have a coupon they can apply to your purchase.
If not, as if there is a discount for paying with cash.
I’ve found I get some discount the majority of the time.
When it comes to shopping online, it is even easier to avoid paying full price.
First, you can search coupon websites for promo codes and coupons to apply towards your purchase.
If you shop at a store regularly, sign up for their email list. Most offer a discount on your first order.
Also follow them on social media as many retailers now post discount codes there.
Finally, and probably the easiest of all, is to you a cash back website.
These sites offer a set percent off your purchase.
For example, if a store offers 5% cash back and you spend $100, you saved $5.
There are two sites I use.
I use these two for a good reason. In some cases, one will offer cash back at a store that the other site doesn’t.
Also, one might offer me 5% cash back and the other offers me 2% cash back.
I simply check both out see which one is the best deal and then use that one.
Click on the links below to sign up for free and start saving money.
New Swagbucks users get $5 when you sign up.
New Rakuten users get $10 when you sign up.
The price of college never seems to hold steady.
Every year the costs associated with attending college go higher.
And this puts students in a bind, trying to afford college today and not drowning in student loan debt in the future.
The good news is you don’t have to make the mistake of going into mountains of debt for a degree.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Plan out your education first.
While going to a four year college is great, it is not the only option.
In fact, you have a lot of choices.
First, you can go to a community college for 2 years and then transfer.
This will save you a lot of money.
And if you can work a little while going to community college, you can make affording the four year school easier.
Another option is to skip college at first.
This is perfect for those not sure of what they want to do with their lives.
After all, why spend $80,000 when you aren’t even sure the degree you get is what you want to do?
Get a job and learn. Figure out what you want to do and then you can go to college.
You might even consider working full time and getting your education at night.
If this is the path you choose, see if your employer will help cover some of the cost.
Finally, consider attending a trade school.
If you enjoy working with your hands, this might be a better fit for you than college.
#19. Checking Accounts
It’s mind blowing all the ways banks get you to pay a fee when it comes to having an account with them.
With some banks, it almost feels like it is a nuisance to have an account with all the fees they charge.
If your bank is charging you fee, it is time to shop around and stop paying the unnecessary fees.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Find a free checking account.
There are plenty of options for free checking out there.
Start by looking at local banks and credit unions around you.
Many offer different types of checking accounts, so they could have one that makes sense for you.
If you don’t find any local banks, consider looking for an online bank.
You can do everything you would with a local bank.
The only issue I’ve run into is I cant deposit cash.
My workaround is to give the cash to a friend to deposit into their account and have them write me a check.
Then I use my phone and deposit the check with my bank.
I use CIT Bank and highly recommend it.
They offer one of the highest interest rates on online savings accounts in the country.
When it comes to cable TV, most people complain about the increasing cost.
This is for good reason.
Cable prices continue to rise every year.
And with the increasing pricing, most of us only watch a handful of channels, meaning we are spending money on things we never use.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Review your cable costs.
For starters, take a look at what you are paying for.
Is there a smaller plan that makes better sense for you?
Can you negotiate a better deal by agreeing to a contract?
You should also look at the cost of equipment. Can you get discounts on these or get rid of anything?
If you strike out negotiating, look into Trim.
This is a service that will negotiate your cable bill for, and look for other savings too.
They tout a 70% success rate and save users on average $30 a month!
You could cancel cable completely and go with a streaming service as well.
The bottom line is you are no long stuck with cable as your only option.
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 a pack a day and a pack costs your $7, you are spending over $2,500 year!
How to overcome this spending mistake: Kick your smoking habit.
There are all sorts of medications and treatments these days to help you kick the habit.
You can even go to self help sessions for assistance as well.
I recommend having a close friend as an accountability partner.
When you feel the urge to smoke, call or text them for a little pep talk.
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.
Remember that $2,500 a year expense?
That is nothing when you add in all the medical costs you will have to pay in the future as a result of smoking.
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.
Most people don’t realize they are paying these fees since the fee is taken from your annual return.
But the fact is, this fee adds up over time.
For example, investing $25,000 in a mutual fund that charges a 0.10% versus a 1.00% will save you close to $19,000 over 20 years.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra $19,000 to spend?
How to overcome this spending mistake: Figure out how much money you are paying in fees.
It’s not hard to figure out and you don’t have to do the math if you don’t want to.
Just look for the expense ratio, or management fee of the mutual fund or exchange traded fund you are investing in.
A simple online search will provide the answer.
Ideally you want to stay under 1%.
There are low cost options too, like Schwab, Fidelity, and Vanguard where you can get fees as low as 0.10% an under.
Of course, if you want to see exactly how much the fee is costing you, you can do the math.
Do you know how much money you waste on food?
And this is all food in general, from buying groceries to dining out.
We spend a lot of money on food and a lot of it can be avoided if we just shop smarter.
How to stop wasting money on food? Be a smarter consumer.
It all starts with planning ahead.
For grocery shopping, do a little meal planning. Think about what you want to eat this week and then buy that.
Even better, look at the sales fliers to see what is on sale and buy that.
To stretch your dollars farther, buy and cook extra and eat leftovers for lunch.
Finally, don’t grocery shop when you are hungry. You will buy a lot of stuff that looks good but you don’t need.
When it comes to eating out, think before ordering.
Do you really need an appetizer and a meal? With the size of meals these days, that alone should fill you up.
Additionally, look for specials like half price appetizers or other deals that you can use to save money.
And order water. Ordering alcohol and soft drinks cost a lot.
If you plan on running a lot errands, pack some snack bags with food to hold you over until you come home.
Also, pack a water bottle. Many times we are thirsty and mistake this for hunger.
We need cars to get around, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the cost of buying a car and maintaining it.
Sadly though, this is what many people too. And this makes cars a waste of money.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Be smarter about your car.
This all starts with buying a car.
Make sure you are buying a car that makes sense for you. Don’t just buy what is popular.
From there, make sure you negotiate the price. This is a lot easier to do than many people think, and will save your thousands of dollars.
- Read now: Click here to learn the simple trick to negotiating a car
- Read now: Click here to learn why hybrids don’t save you money
Once you have a car, get regular maintenance. It does cost money, but if you spend a little money now, you will save money in the long run.
This is because you will have fewer costly repairs and the car will last longer.
And the longer you can go before having to buy a new car, the more money you will save.
#25. Having A Negative Attitude
Negativity is all around us these days.
On television, social media, even listening to the radio or talking with people.
Everyone has a complaint about something.
And this negativity brings you down.
For a pick me up, many people turn to spending money.
Buying things makes you feel better. But this is a waste of money.
How to overcome this spending mistake: Learn to 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 are wasting money when we are tired or are in bad moods.
If you become more positive, you will keep more of your money.
This list covered 25 of the biggest ways we waste money.
I’m sure you can think of more very easily.
If you are wasting money, you are essentially throwing money away and keeping yourself in worse finance shape than needed.
It’s not as simple as don’t spend money. It’s more about cutting down on unnecessary spending.
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.