Are you struggling to get by? Are you looking for some simple ways to cut your spending and save some money?
Chances are you are wasting your money on things you don’t need or could easily get for free.
But what if you aren’t struggling to get by?
Chances are you are still wasting your money by buying things you don’t need.
And if you can limit or stop spending money on these unneeded things, you can use your money to pay off debt or save and invest it so you can achieve your financial goals.
In this post, I am going to walk you through 59 things you need to stop wasting your money on.
If you follow through and limit your spending on these needless things, you will begin to see a change in your finances.
You will have cash left over at the end of the month and won’t feel the intense stress that money can add to our lives.
So what are these things you need to stop buying?
Below is the complete list. I categorized them for you so you can easily navigate through the post.
Let’s get started!
59 Foolish Things To Stop Wasting Your Money On
Here are the many ways you are wasting your money on bank related items.
#1. ATM Fees
For the majority of people, paying ATM fees is a regular occurrence. The average fee now hovers around $3 for in-network machines.
It’s worse for out of network machines. That fee comes in at close to $5.
If you use the ATM once a week, you are looking at an incredible $260 a year that you waste. And sadly many people use the ATM more often than this.
How to avoid this money mistake: You have 2 options. You either find ATMs that don’t charge you a fee or you upgrade your bank account.
Unless you are making a good salary, upgrading your checking account probably isn’t an option as you will be shifting the fee you pay from ATM charges to a monthly maintenance fee.
The simplest solution then is to find free ATMs. This will most likely be getting cash from your bank’s ATM machines.
But some banks allow for no fee withdraws at other machines too.
So take 10 minutes and figure out where the free ATMs are start making it a habit to frequent these instead.
#2. Overdraft Fees
Overdraft fees can quickly destroy your budget. They happen when you spend more than you have in your bank account.
Banks were smart to realize that people didn’t want the embarrassment of having their card getting declined.
So they allow you to spend more than you have for a small fee.
Today this small fee is up to $35 and it happens per occurrence.
This means if you happen to use your debit card twice after going into a negative balance you are getting hit with a $70 fee.
You can see how this quickly adds up. If you overdraft your account 5 times a year you are wasting $175.
How to avoid this money mistake: There are a couple things you can do to avoid this fee. First, tell your bank you don’t want overdraft protection.
While this will stop you from overdrafting your account when using your debit card, you still have to deal with checks.
If you decline overdraft protection and write a check for more than you have in your account, you are getting charged returned check fees.
The other solution and the best one is to open up a savings account and link it with your checking account. Keep $500 in the savings account to cover you.
When you get the bank to link the two for overdraft protection, they will take money from your savings account to cover your spending and you will avoid the fee.
The only catch to this is you have to remember to replenish your savings account if you overdraft on a regular basis.
In this case, you need to start budgeting your money.
- Related: See the power of the 50/30/20 budget
Budgeting isn’t that hard and there are many easy ways to budget without making it hurt. My favorite is Tiller.
You can click here to learn more about Tiller.
#3. Savings Accounts
While you aren’t getting charged money by having a savings account, you are wasting money if you keep your emergency fund at a brick and mortar bank.
Why is this? The savings accounts offered here will pay you on average 0.50% interest on your savings.
Again, you aren’t losing money here but you are losing purchasing power. What am I talking about?
Inflation is the reason prices rise. Historically it runs at 3% a year, which means the prices of the things you buy increases $0.03 a year per dollar.
For example, if you see a $10 item today, it will cost $10.30 next year, thanks to inflation. If you put that $10 in your savings account and earn 0.50%, you earn $0.05.
Basically what happened is you have less money to survive on. Your $10 is worth just $0.05 more but the price of the item you wanted rose by $0.30.
You are now in the hole $0.25.
As the years pass, you will get deeper and deeper in the hole and won’t be able to survive financially.
How to avoid this money mistake: You have to put your money in higher yielding accounts. Most online banks are paying around 2% interest and historically pay more.
#4. Account Fees
There are seemingly endless bank fees. You get charged for simply having an account. Then there are research fees, inactivity fees, returned check fees and more.
And I already talked about overdraft fees.
On average, you are paying close to $100 in account maintenance and other related fees for having a bank account. This needs to change.
How to avoid this money mistake: With so many options out there, there is rarely a reason you should be paying account maintenance fees.
Your first step is to visit your bank and see if there is a better account option for you.
You might have to do a little work to figure out your average monthly balance and how many times you use your debit card as these play a role into the account type you end up with.
Or you can just skip this charade altogether and bank online. It is extremely rare for an online bank to charge you account maintenance fees.
My favorites are CIT Bank and Ally Bank. I have accounts with both and have never had an issue with either.
Note that some local banks are tired of losing customers to online banks and offer their own version of online only banking for customers that avoid most fees.
Credit Cards And Debt
There are plenty of ways you are wasting your money on credit cards and debt related items. Here are the biggest ones you need to focus on and take action on.
#5. Credit Card Interest
If you are carrying a balance on your credit cards, then you are paying interest. At around 18% you are quickly digging yourself a hole you will have a tough time getting out of.
On a balance of $5,000 paying just $50 a month will see you pay a total of $9,655 in interest over 19 years!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you need to take action on this waste of money.
How to avoid this money mistake: Your first point of attack should be to call your credit card company. Ask them to lower your interest rate.
As long as you have been making payments on time, they should reduce your interest for a period of time.
But they might try to first only offer you a lower interest rate on new purchases.
You don’t want this. You want a lower interest rate on your current balance. Explain this to them and see if they agree.
After you do this, you now need to start paying as much as you can each month on your debt.
You might even consider finding some ways to make money on the side to help.
I recommend using the snowball method to make a quick dent in your debt.
Once you pay off your debt, you need to start living within your means and avoid debt altogether.
#6. Payday Loans
Payday loans are probably one of the worst things ever invented.
They trick you by allowing you to give into your urge of needing money now and then putting you in a worse financial situation by charging astronomical interest rates.
How high? It’s not uncommon to be hit with 400% interest and higher. Don’t resort to a payday loan in any event.
How to avoid this money mistake: If you are struggling with your finances this much, it is time to start taking action to improve things.
I know it might seem like this is impossible, but in time you can change your finances around. You just have to have patience.
In the meantime, what can you do to ease your financial burden? If you owe money, talk to the lender.
Tell them you are struggling and ask if there is anything they can do for you. Many times they will make an attempt to help you out.
This is because it is less expensive for them to get something from you than to write off the money as a loss.
Even after this step, you might need to reach out for counseling. You can get free help from the National Foundation of Credit Counseling.
By going this route you ensure you aren’t going to get scammed. Too many debt help companies are more trouble than they are worth.
#7. Foreign Transaction Fees
When you travel, credit cards hit you up with a foreign transaction fee. This is the fee that comes when you convert the local currency into your home currency.
For example, it you are from the United States and travel to Europe, the foreign transaction fee will be the fee for converting the item you bought in Euro’s back to Dollar’s.
Of course, the credit card company charges you more than it costs to make the conversion with the difference being profit for their bottom line.
How to avoid this money mistake: There are two options here. First you can travel with the local currency, which eliminates the foreign transaction fee.
The downside to this is if you lose the money or get robbed, you have no money left.
Additionally, you are going to get hit with a fee for exchanging your currency for the local currency.
The other option is the best option. Travel with a card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
Many cards offer this benefit and it can save you a lot of money if you travel frequently.
Since the cards that waive foreign transaction fees changes all the time, you need to research them to find the best one for you.
#8. Closing Costs
When you buy a house, you get charged closing costs. These are the fees you have to pay as a buyer in order for the sale to go through.
Typically the total amount of closing costs averages around 3% of the loan amount. So if you are buying a house with a loan of $225,000 you can expect your closing costs to be around $6,750.
But this doesn’t mean you should blindly accept a number in this ballpark. If you do, odds are you are wasting your money.
How to avoid this money mistake: While you won’t get away with zero closing costs, you can greatly reduce the amount you pay by being smart.
This means negotiating some of the fees you are being charged. Here is a great list of charges to question and ask for a better price:
- Origination Fees
- Admin/Underwriting Fees
- Application Fee
- Appraisal Fee
While you might not be able to remove all of these completely, any reduction you can get will benefit you greatly.
This is because the less money you have going towards fees, the more of your down payment actually goes towards you lowering the amount you need to borrow.
As a result your monthly payment is smaller and the total amount of interest you pay will be less.
Did you know a lot of people waste money when it comes to their mortgage? I’m not talking about getting a mortgage too big to afford, but rather the interest rate you are paying.
By simply getting a 0.50% lower interest rate you will save tens of thousands of dollars. How much to be exact?
If you are taking out a loan for $225,000 for 30 years and are paying 4% interest, you are going to pay a total of $161,707 in interest.
But if you can get a 3.50% interest rate, you are going to pay $138,726 in interest. This is a difference of close to $23,000!
The crazy thing is that getting a lower interest rate is completely within your control!
How to avoid this money mistake: You simply have to shop around for the best interest rate. Here is how this worked out for us.
When we were buying our current home, I got a quote for an interest rate of 4.25%. Given the listed best rates at the time, this was a good deal.
Even though this seemed like a good deal, I reached out to another broker to get another quote.
After giving him the information and running our credit, he came back with a rate of 4.00%.
I went back to the first broker and explained the situation to him and he was able to come in at 3.75%.
At the end of the day, we went with this deal and saved ourselves over $50,000 in interest charges.
The bottom line, shop around for your mortgage. You might be paying more than you need to in interest charges.
#10. Student Loans
While student loans are great for helping you to afford college, they quickly become a way you are wasting your money when you take out too many loans.
The result is you are saddled with debt and a monster monthly payment that forces you to live with Mom and Dad and not save for your future.
How to avoid this money mistake: You have to be smart when taking out student loans. Remember, your education is the end goal.
And while it may have mattered where you went to college in the past, this is less of an issue now. As long as you have a college degree and some work experience at an internship, you should be able to land a job.
So consider going to less expensive college. Or go to a community college for a year and then transfer.
Another option is to go part time while you work so you don’t have to take out as many loans.
The fewer loans you can take out, the better.
But what if you already took out too many loans? What do you do now?
Your first option is to look into refinancing. When you refinance your student loans you can get a lower interest rate which helps to lower your monthly payment.
I recommend either Credible for refinancing student loans.
From there, you need to possibly work some side gigs to help put extra money towards your debt.
You don’t have to work 2 jobs forever, just long enough to pay off some of your student loan debt to make your monthly payment more affordable.
#11. Late Fees
If you are late on your credit card payments, you are going to get nailed with fees. The typical late fee hovers around $30 and you get charged with interest on your outstanding balance as well.
Make a couple late payments a year and not only are you paying unnecessary fees, but you are destroying your credit too.
This results in getting charged higher interest rates and paying more money on the debt you currently have.
How to avoid this money mistake: Simply pay your bills on time. You can easily automate your payments with a few clicks on your credit card account website.
You can do the same thing on your bank accounts website too. Really there is no reason to be late with a payment.
And in the rate event you are late and you have a stellar history of paying on time, call your credit card company and ask them to waive the fee.
I’ve never found a company not waive the late fee and interest if you have always paid on time and are late once.
There are some things you spend money on that makes you feel good but you are really wasting your money.
Here are some vices that are costing you a lot of money.
#12. Lottery Tickets
It shouldn’t be a surprise that lottery tickets are on a list of how you are wasting your money. After all, the odds of you winning the lottery are slim to none.
Yet you still play because there is “a chance”.
How to avoid this money mistake: This is simple. Stop playing the lottery!
But I know for many, this advice will fall on deaf ears. So instead of completely stopping, try cutting back.
Let’s say you spend $50 a week playing the lottery. Can you drop that to $40? How about $25? You still get to play and enjoy playing, but you aren’t wasting as much of your money.
Now here is what I want you to do with your savings. I want you to open an account with Acorns.
They are an investment app that allows you to invest small amounts of money.
Take you $10 or $25 from playing the lottery less and invest that money instead. Over time you will earn an average 8% return on your money.
And this return is far more than you will ever see playing the lottery.
The waste of drinking alcohol comes when you are out with your friends at the bar or eating out at a restaurant.
The markup on alcohol is as much as four times the price you would pay if you bought the alcohol for your personal use at home.
How to avoid this money mistake: The easiest is to cut back. Try to drink water when eating out. Or, look for BYOB restaurants where you can bring your own wine.
As far as going out to the bar, try to stick with drink specials to save some money. While most specials are on beer, there is usually a mixed drink special as well.
If wasting your money on lottery tickets wasn’t enough, there is tobacco. And you will be wasting more and more money every year as state governments continue to increases taxes on this vice.
But there is another cost to smoking. It’s your health. While you might think it’s no big deal to drop $10 on a pack of cigarettes, you have to look at the long term impact.
Odds are you are going to have health issues down the road and these costs will be in the thousands of dollars.
And potentially more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans spend close to $170 billion on medical costs on smoking related illnesses.
How to avoid this money mistake: You have to stop smoking. I know this is easier said than done, but you have to try.
Even if you fail, assess why you failed and try again. The more you can cut back, not only will you save money today but on future medical costs as well.
It’s easy to get sucked into the allure of gambling. And if you do, before you know it you can spend hundreds of dollars or more.
And with the rise of online gaming where you pay with your credit card, it is even easier to blindly spend without thinking.
How to avoid this money mistake: Try to find another way to have fun that doesn’t risk losing so much money.
For example, maybe you try playing bingo instead? Or you look into some fun bar games to play.
Anything you can do to help you cut down on your gambling ways, the better off your finances will be.
It’s easy to end up wasting your money when it comes to entertainment. You enjoy having fun and sometimes forget just how much you are spending.
Or in some cases, you get comfortable with the entertainment and don’t consider how much money you can save by making small changes.
Let’s look at some of the ways you are wasting your money on entertainment.
You probably already know you are wasting money on cable. Your bill seems to go up every month and it seems like you can’t save any money.
So you just accept it and keep paying higher bills.
How to avoid this money mistake: You actually have a number of ways to save money when it comes to your cable bill.
The first is calling up your provider and negotiating for a discount. Here is how you can be successful at this without losing your mind.
When you call, ask for the retention department. When you have a customer service rep, tell them that you want to see what options there are to lower your bill as the price has become too much.
They will most likely ask you what channels you watch most, so be sure to do your homework first.
Then they will give you one of their current deals. Don’t take it.
The reason is because they never give their best offer first. Many times it’s not a deal at all. It just looks like one.
Think about it, if your goal is to lower the amount you pay, how is getting more channels for the same price a deal for you?
Politely decline and ask if there is any other offers. Odds are they will come back with a deal. When I did this, I saved $50 a month on my bill.
What if you don’t want to go through the negotiation or don’t have the time? Use Trim.
It’s a service that will negotiate your bill for you. They tout a 70% success rate and save on average of $30 on your cable bill.
You can click here to let them save you money.
Lastly, you can rip the band-aid off and cancel cable. If you go this route, here are some alternatives to cable:
I have no doubt that one of these will get you the content you want at a lower cost.
How much money do you spend on books? Even if you only buy digital books, many are a waste of money. Why? You only read them once.
And in some cases, you never even finish the book in the first place. Talk about throwing money away!
How to avoid this money mistake: Take advantage of your library. You can rent physical books and not have to worry about the cost or how much room they will take up in your house.
And if you enjoy digital books, many libraries have come into the digital age. In fact, many partner with Amazon to make it easier for you to rent digital books.
This one is along the same lines as buying books. The main difference is you probably blow a lot more money on magazines since a new issue comes out every month.
And the price for a magazine is close to half of a full length book.
How to avoid this money mistake: Stop buying the magazine! You can get much of the same information online for free.
And in many cases, the information in the magazine isn’t adding any value to your life, especially if it is a gossip magazine.
If there are magazines that you need to have, make it a point to at least stop buying them at the newsstand and paying full price.
You can buy a subscription for magazines at Ebates and save a ton of money. Plus you will get 25% cash back on the subscription price.
You can click here to join Ebates for free and get a free $10 gift card in the process.
#19. In-Game Purchases
As any Candy Crush or other game fanatic will tell you, in-game purchases quickly add up.
App developers have gotten wise to the fact that when you are engrossed in the game you are more likely to buy add-ons versus paying for them upfront.
How to avoid this money mistake: This is a tough one to avoid simply because you are engrossed in a game and want that power-up to complete the level.
But you have to do your best keep your emotions in check. Sure it would be great to have that power-up but is it really needed?
Can you finish the level without it?
Alternatively, if there is a paid version of the game that you tend to want to buy add-ons in, it might make sense to pay for the app.
This is especially true if the purchase price is lower than the total of the add-ons you would be buying.
The next area where you are wasting your money is on travel. It makes sense too. Sometimes you pay more just because you want the trip to be special.
Other times you don’t know better and pay for something you think you need but really don’t.
Here are some ways you throw money away that you can save on instead.
#20. Rental Car Insurance
Speaking of not knowing any better, you can include me here. While I travel, I rarely rent a car. So on my last trip when I rented a car, I ended up buying rental car insurance even though my credit card covers me.
Talk about a waste of money!
How to avoid this money mistake: Take the time before your trip to see if you are covered. Does your personal auto insurance policy cover you when renting a car? What about the credit card you will use to pay with?
Many times one of these two things will allow you to completely decline all rental car insurance policies.
However, if you are traveling overseas, you need to check with the countries laws too.
In some cases, you have to buy insurance, regardless if you are covered with your credit card or personal insurance policy.
Do you pay full price on hotels? If you do you are throwing money away. There is no reason to pay full price for a hotel room in today’s digital world.
How to avoid this money mistake: For starters, there are all sorts of reduced rates for organizations you probably belong too.
In the event that there isn’t a discount, you can use a third party hotel booking site to score a good deal. Most will offer much lower rates.
In some cases, if you aren’t loyal to a hotel brand, you can choose a price range and area of the city you want to stay in and let the hotels fight for your money.
We’ve done this a handful of times and never came away disappointed. And in most cases, we saved close to 40% off the regular price of the room!
#22. Ride-Sharing Services
Using a ride sharing service is convenient. Just log onto the app and request a ride. No longer do you have to stand outside in the bitter cold, pouring rain, or sweltering heat to hail a cab.
But it can be costly too to use these apps.
How to avoid this money mistake: First, see if there are any discounts or coupons for you to save money.
I’ve found that sometimes my credit card offers me cash back on a ride from time to time.
Another option is to use the “pooling” feature to save money. Sure you will be sharing the ride with others, but you will be saving a good amount of money too.
Finally, and possibly the simplest option, is to walk or use public transportation. It will require a little work on your part, but if your goal is to save money, you this is your best option.
#23. Airline Fees
The cost of airfare is only going up and it seems more and more fees are added every day.
If you aren’t careful, your great airline deal might turn into a waste of money when you add on the additional fees.
How to avoid this money mistake: Make sure you know the airline you are flying with. What are their policies when it comes to added fees? When you know this, you can limit as many as possible.
Another option, especially if you have a smaller bag, is to try to carry it on. The worst case scenario is at the gate they will force you to check it or ask you to check your bag if the flight is full.
By checking your bag at the gate, you avoid the typical checked bag fee.
Finally, look into the airline branded credit card if you fly the same airline a lot. They usually offer breaks on fees when you are a card member.
There are plenty of ways to go about wasting your money around the house. I could probably come up with an endless list if I wanted to!
But I want to concentrate on the biggest ways you are wasting your money. So, here are the biggest wastes of money when it comes to your household.
#24. Cell Phone Data
Gone are the days of unlimited data for cell phones. Cell carriers have become wise to the fact that the money is made with data.
So they are giving you unlimited calls and texts and charging you an arm and a leg on data.
Luckily, there are things you can do to help you keep the money you pay on data to a minimum.
How to avoid this money mistake: For starters, the simplest thing you can do is to pick the right plan for you. When you do this, you won’t pay any outrageous overage fees.
But don’t buy the biggest data plan either. If you only use 5GB a month, it is a waste to pay for 15GB.
So review how much data you use and pick the best plan for you.
The next thing you can do is find the lowest cost data plan for you. Many of the cell carrier resellers offer great deals on data.
For instance, Cricket offers you 5GB for just $40 a month. If you set up autopay, the price drops to $35 a month. This is a great deal.
And if you sign up for Cricket through this link, they will give you a $25 credit on your first bill!
Don’t be scared to use a cell carrier reseller. Many of these companies are now owned by the bigger carriers, so they use the same towers and have the same coverage areas.
#25. Buying Lunch
No longer can you buy a lunch for a few dollars. Now even a fast food lunch is going to run you $10 or more.
If you eat lunch out 3 times a week, you are looking at spending $120 just on lunches alone!
How to avoid this money mistake: The good news is that it is easy to cut back and save money here. The easiest way is to stop eating out so much. Even if you cut out one time a week, that saves you $40 a month.
What can you eat instead? You can eat peanut butter and jelly, though that might make you feel like you are in middle school again.
What about buying some lunch meat and making a sandwich? Or if you cook ahead for dinner, you can always have leftovers for lunches
Another option is to figure out what places around you have lunch specials. If you can reduce your cost of eating out to $7, even if you keep going out 3 times a week, you saved $36.
How much money are you paying to fill up your gas tank? It’s no surprise that gas prices will continue to rise as the years go by.
With just a little effort you can save money on this recurring bill you pay.
How to avoid this money mistake: As with many of the other ways you are wasting your money, you have some options when it comes to saving money on gasoline.
Here are the easiest things to start doing:
- Clean out your car. Any added weight reduces your gas mileage. So clean out your car and save some money.
- Stop and start smoother. Don’t slam on the brakes when coming to a stop and don’t stomp on the gas when starting out. By being smoother with your starts and stops, you can improve your gas mileage.
- Drive smarter. In addition to the above, learn to be a better driver. Keep a steady speed and you will get better mileage. When on the highway, drive a little slower. You will still get to where you are going in reasonable time and save money too.
- Inflate your tires. By keeping your tires inflated, you get the best gas mileage possible.
Aside from the above, your next plan of attack is to scout out gas stations. Which ones tend to have to best prices?
When you know this, you can start buying gas there to save money.
You could also look into paying for gas with cash. Many stations offer a cash discount. If they don’t offer a cash discount, be smart when using your credit card.
Use the credit card that offers you the most cash back for your purchase. I use the American Express Blue Card and earn 3% cash back.
Finally, see if there are ways for you to drive less. Can you carpool to work with others? Maybe you can partner with Uber and pick up passengers on your route. The money you earn can help offset the cost of gas.
Finally, try to combine errands into one trip to help you save money on gas.
#27. Traffic Tickets
If you have ever gotten a traffic ticket, you know how much they can cost you. Even something as simple as a parking ticket can ruin your day.
And that isn’t the worst part. The worst part is when you accidentally forget about the ticket and then are slammed with added fees and penalties.
If you still ignore them, you risk your license being suspended and a warrant put out for your arrest.
How to avoid this money mistake: The easiest option to avoid a speeding ticket is to simply not speed. You just follow the legal speed limit and go about your day.
Of course, there are times when this is easier than others. When it gets tough to keep to steady speed, use your cruise control.
But if you really must speed, at least look into a radar detector. While they won’t prevent 100% of speeding tickets, they can help you lower the odds.
When it comes to parking tickets, this is another ball game. Sometimes even the signs are unclear and you risk getting a ticket.
In these cases, I find a parking lot. Sure they cost money, but then I don’t have to worry about a ticket.
And if you happen to get a parking ticket, read the ticket right away. Many times cities offer a discount if you pay the fine in 7 days.
This is what happened to me. I got a parking ticket for $20. But if I paid within 7 days, it was just $5.
#28. Unused Gym Membership
Did you fall into the new year resolution trap? This is where you vow you will get in shape this year and buy a gym membership.
You visit religiously for the month of January and then slowly skip once or twice in February.
Come March, you never step foot in the gym again.
Sadly this is a common occurrence. I belong to a gym and don’t like going in January and February for this very reason. It is overcrowded.
But I know that 95% of the new signees will be gone by March and the gym will be back to normal. And without fail it is.
The problem for you though is you blew this money for nothing.
How to avoid this money mistake: There are a handful of things you can do to save yourself money when it comes to getting in shape.
The first is to start out with simple body weight exercises. They are simple to perform, but will leaving you sweating.
You can also sign up for classes on demand. Here you simply log onto an online site and do the workouts from your home.
There is a fee for this, but most times it is less than the cost of a gym membership.
But what if you already joined a gym? You can read through the cancellation policy to see if there are any options for you cancel early.
You can also try a service called Trim. They will attempt to cancel the membership for you.
If you find there is no option for canceling early, try to make it a point to visit the gym. You are paying for it after all.
#29. Fad Exercise Classes
I mentioned you could try out online classes to save money on a gym membership, but you also need to be careful in this regard too.
In some cases, the online or in-person exercise classes will try to get you to sign up for 6 months or longer and show you how much money you will save by going this route.
How to avoid this money mistake: You are better off paying per class for a while.
Yes it will cost you more in the short term, but until you are certain you love the workout and want to do it for the long term, it saves you money.
There is no point in paying for 6 months worth of kickboxing classes if after the 3rd class you realize it isn’t for you.
Don’t fall for the trap of saving money by paying more. Pay per class and have the freedom to stop going without guilt if you end up not liking the workout.
#30. Manis & Pedis
I know you want to look your best and getting manicures and pedicures makes you feel good. But they also can cost you a ton of money if you are regularly going.
At $30 a visit, if you go every month you are spending over $350 a year!
How to avoid this money mistake: Simply go less often. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi for special occasions.
Or, save the money and do them yourself. You can easily block out some time, take a hot shower, put on some relaxing music and do it yourself while drinking a glass or two of wine.
Even better, invite some friends over and make it a party where you do each other’s nails while drinking wine and catching up.
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.
The cost of diapers is crazy. And depending on where you buy them, you can easily pay a fortune.
Luckily there are some easy ways you can save money on diapers.
How to avoid this money mistake: First, you need to shop around. Avoid the grocery store as they sell smaller packages of diapers with marked up prices.
I stick to warehouse clubs. Not only do they have the best price per diaper, but they typically have a coupon.
And if I find a coupon in the newspaper, I can use that too.
What do I mean by price per diaper? You need to do the math when it comes to the number of diapers and the price.
For example, if the box of 100 diapers costs $39.99 you know that each diaper is $0.39 (price divided by box size). You want this cost as low as possible.
I try to get close to $0.20.
Aside from warehouse clubs, you can buy at Target. Buying their brand of diapers and using your Target RedCard will save you money.
Also look at Amazon. They tend to have good sales from time to time.
#32. Baby Stuff
There are a lot of things that are sold to new parents that are a complete waste of money. But as a new parent, you want everything for your kid, so you buy it.
Only later do you regret it.
How to avoid this money mistake: You have to be disciplined here. Take a step back and think things through before making a purchase.
Maybe even go online to read reviews to see of other people came to the same conclusion that the item is a waste of money.
Just make sure you don’t get sucked into the positive reviews and it strengthens the case to buy it.
Question if the item will make things easier for you or your child or if the item solves a problem that is truly a problem.
For example, when we had our first daughter we bought a warmer for the wipes. Why did we do this? I have no idea. But we did.
And we never used it. She was fine with room temperature wipes.
College tuition costs a lot of money. And there is no guarantee you will land a job when you graduate.
The result is you are stuck with a mountain of student loan debt and not a lot of income to pay the debt back.
How to avoid this money mistake: If you aren’t in college yet, take some time to think. Do you have to go to the most expensive school?
Would a state school or a smaller school that doesn’t cost as much be just as good?
In my experience, I have found who I know is more valuable than where I graduated college from.
In other words, no one really cares where I went to college if I know so-and-so or a certain person put in a good word for me.
Another option for affording college is to start out at a community college. Go there for 2 years, then transfer to a 4-year college. You will save tons of money.
Additionally, seek out all of the scholarships and grants you can get your hands on. The more free money you get to help you pay for college the better.
Finally, if you graduated and have mountains of student loans, look into refinancing this debt. You can lower your monthly payment and save on interest.
Taxes are a big way you are wasting your money. Everywhere you turn, there is a tax you are paying.
On your income, the gas you put in your car, the things you buy, the electricity you use in your house, the cell phone you have.
You just can’t avoid taxes. As a result, many people think they have to pay taxes and don’t do anything to save money on taxes.
How to avoid this money mistake: The truth is there are a lot of things you can do to save money on taxes. Here are some basic things you can do that will go a long way.
- Contribute to your 401k plan: When you invest in your retirement plan, the money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes. So if you earn $1,000 and you contribute $200, you are only getting taxed on $800 worth of income.
If you are in the 25% tax bracket, you saved $50 in taxes. Carry this out over the course of a year and you save $1,300!
- Contribute to a flexible spending or health savings account: Same idea as the point above. The money you contribute to these accounts is pre-tax so you don’t pay taxes.
And if you use the money for eligible medical expenses, you never pay tax on this money at all.
- Invest tax efficiently: If you invest in a tax efficient manner, you can save yourself money every year. For example, bonds pay interest every month and this income is considered ordinary income. This means it is taxed at the same rate of your income. But dividends from stocks are taxed at a much lower tax rate.
Therefore you should keep most of your bond investments in retirement accounts where the money will grow tax deferred.
Here is a great guide on tax efficient investing to help you save the most money.
- Shop online: Many times you can buy things online and avoid state sales taxes. But you have to be careful here.
If you are paying for shipping, you might end up paying more than if you just bought the item in a physical store.
- Shop out of state: If you live close to your state border and a neighboring state has a lower sales tax, you can travel out of state to buy things.
In my case, the neighboring state has no sales tax. So we make a trip once a month to stock up on things. This ends up saving us close to $250 a year.
The only caution with this is buying large ticket items like cars. If you buy out of state, you will have to pay your state sales tax when you register the car.
#35. Simple Home Repairs
As a homeowner, you know things break all of the time. If you rely on a handyman or professional to fix everything, you are wasting a lot of money.
Especially if you need help next day, in which case you are paying their emergency rate.
How to avoid this money mistake: Learn to do simple home repairs yourself. It is easy to learn how thanks to YouTube.
When things break at our house, I pull up a video and see how complicated the repair is. Most times I am stunned with how simple the fix is.
Then I run to the hardware store, buy the parts and make the repair. By doing this I’ve easily saved us over $1,000 in repair bills.
Of course, I still use professionals for difficult or large jobs. But don’t just assume you need to hire someone for small jobs.
Take a minute to see if you can make the repair yourself.
Many times you will be surprised as how much you can do yourself.
Electric bills are one of the larger bills many households pay. And it seems every year the price for electric keeps going up, resulting in higher and higher bills.
If you aren’t being proactive by taking steps to reduce your electric use, you are throwing money out the window.
How to avoid this money mistake: The best way to save money on electric costs is to tackle some basic home projects.
When you do this, you ensure you aren’t simply wasting money due to laziness.
Here are the first things you should be doing to lower your electric bill:
- Seal doors and windows: Go around the trim on your doors and windows and look for gaps. If you find any, use some caulk to seal it.
This works best when it is cold out. As you run your hand slowly around the window or door, you will feel the cold air.
Just use the caulk to seal the gap and you are saving money.
- Use smart power strips: Many electronics still draw power even when off. This is because many just go into standby mode and don’t actually turn off. If you use a smart power strip, you can ensure these devices turn off.
- Use Kill A Watt: Alternatively, you can buy a Kill A Watt. This device plugs into your outlet and you plug an item into the device. It then measures how much electric the item is using.
This helps you to see what the biggest drains on your wallet are when it comes to saving money on electricity.
- Replace light bulbs: If you are using incandescent light bulbs, you are wasting money. Switch your most used lights over to LED. The cost for the bulb is higher, but they use a fraction of the electric.
When we moved into our current home, the electric bill was out of this world. I replaced the lights in our kitchen and bedrooms, and the next electric bill was a lot lower.
- Use a programmable thermostat: Finally, heating and cooling your house is most likely your biggest electric expense.
Spend a few dollars on a programmable thermostat so you can heat and cool the house when you are home, not when you are away. My favorite is the Nest unit, as it learns on its own.
There are many other things you can do as well to save money on electricity. These are just some basic ones you can tackle on a Saturday and still enjoy your weekend.
#37. Dry Cleaning
You live a busy life and it is easier for you to stop by the dry cleaner to drop off your clothes and get them cleaned than it is to do it yourself.
Or maybe you are lucky enough to have a dry cleaner visit your office, making it even more convenient.
But you spend a lot of money on dry cleaning that you otherwise don’t have to.
How to avoid this money mistake: Figure out what clothes of yours really needs dry cleaning and only pay to have these garments professionally cleaned.
Then take the rest of your clothes and wash them yourself.
And to save even more money, figure out how to get discounts from your dry cleaner and take advantage of them.
For example, the dry cleaner we use offers 25% on Wednesdays. So we always take our dry cleaning in on a Wednesday.
If you aren’t careful you can waste a ton of money on a wedding. Too often we want this special day to be an over the top event and lose site of the true meaning of the day.
As a result we go into debt and don’t enjoy the day like we should because we are too worried about everything being perfect.
How to avoid this money mistake: Take the time to figure out what is important to you when it comes to your wedding and spend your money on this.
For example, don’t waste your money on expensive invitations as people are just throwing them away.
Likewise, no one will remember the centerpieces on the tables.
If you can avoid getting caught up trying to make your wedding day perfect and instead remember what the meaning of the day is, you will save money and have a much better time.
#39. Being Lazy
Do you know how much money you are wasting simply by being lazy? The answer is a lot.
On your way home from a tough day at work, you might stop to pick up fast food instead of heading home and making dinner.
Or you might not feel like doing anything on a Saturday afternoon so you spend money renting movies instead of doing something that will enrich your life.
How to avoid this money mistake: You need to be more proactive to avoid wasting money when lazy.
If you spend some time cooking on the weekend, you will have leftovers all week long.
Likewise, if you spend 5 minutes planning out your day, you will be less likely to waste it away sitting on the couch.
There are many ways you end up wasting your money shopping. And many times it isn’t even your fault. Advertisers are good at getting you give in and buy without you realizing it.
But if you understand how you typically waste money, you can take steps to stop.
Here are the biggest ways you are wasting your money shopping and how to avoid it in the future.
#40. Bottled Water
Having a bottle of water is pure convenience. And by keeping hydrated, you decrease the odds you will overeat or mistake hunger for thirst.
But bottle water costs money and you can get water for free. And we haven’t even talked about how the plastic bottle harms the environment in both waste and in creating it.
How to avoid this money mistake: Buy an insulated water bottle and take it with you wherever you go. You’ll help the environment, save money and your waistline in the process.
Many of us need our morning coffee to operate on a daily basis. The jolt of energy our favorite cup of Joe provides is priceless.
But it really isn’t priceless. It is costing you a pretty penny.
At $4 a day, and 3 times a week, you are spending over $600 a year just on coffee!
How to avoid this money mistake: First try to get a better night sleep. If you can do this, you may find that you don’t even need the coffee every day.
Just know that you may still crave the caffeine.
If you find you still need a coffee in the morning, try brewing it at home. There are many options out there and some have timers so you will have coffee automatically made for you at a set time each day.
Here is the one we live by. Worst case scenario, try to cut back just a little bit.
Even cutting out buying coffee once a week will save you more $200 a year, which is better than nothing.
#42. Flavored Beverages
Sugary beverages like soda aren’t good for your health. Consuming too much sugar makes you gain weight, leads to hypertension, and may even promote the growth of cancer.
In your future, you could easily have higher and more costly medical bills thanks to your sugar intake.
Of course, we can’t overlook the cost of buying these drinks today either.
How to avoid this money mistake: Learn to like water. It is free to drink and is much healthier for you.
In the beginning you can opt for the flavored powder to add to your water to make it a little sweeter for you.
Just make sure you slowly cut back on this too. Another option is to find a flavor of tea you like and drink that instead. Tea has many health benefits.
I’ll be the first to admit that I love starting my day with a smoothie. It’s an easy and convenient way to have breakfast and get some fruits and vegetables into my diet.
The problem isn’t with the smoothies you make at home. It’s the ones you buy. Most of these smoothies have mountains of added sugar.
And they cost an arm and a leg when you compare them to what it would cost you to make them at home.
How to avoid this money mistake: Simple. Make your smoothies at home. You control what goes into them and you can have your dollar go a lot farther.
Not sure how to make great tasting smoothies? Here is a great resource with oodles of recipes to try.
Having a bite of candy is a nice treat. But it becomes a problem when you are eating candy everyday or all of the time in between meals.
Not only is the sugar bad for you and your teeth, but candy is expensive! This is true if you buy it from a vending machine or even at the convenience store.
How to avoid this money mistake: Find healthier alternatives. If you have a craving for sweets, pick up a tasty fruit.
There are plenty of healthy alternatives you can eat instead and save money in the process.
#45. Individually Packed Foods
Do you know how much the mark-up is in individually packaged and pre-cut foods? It’s crazy. I can buy a whole pineapple for $1.99.
The cost for a ¼ container of pre cut pineapple is close to $5!
How to avoid this money mistake: Buy the item and get to work cutting it yourself. It won’t take you a lot of time once you know how to best cut each food.
I’ve found it is really enjoyable to turn on some music and spend 5-10 minutes cutting and slicing up foods. Plus I get to sample each one as I go!
Too many people think buying in bulk is a guaranteed way to save money. But you can easily be wasting your money if you don’t shop right.
This is especially true if you buy more food than you need or you can’t eat it before it spoils.
In addition to buying too much food, some things actually cost more at the warehouse club versus the grocery store.
How to avoid this money mistake: Start by listing what you buy most often then compare the unit pricing between your grocery store and warehouse club to see which one is cheaper.
But you also have to take into account the size of the item at the warehouse club. Can you eat it all or freeze it before it spoils?
Finally, feel free to think outside the box.
Maybe the price is much cheaper at the warehouse club but you can’t eat all the food before it spoils. Can you share it with friends?
You can easily split the food you buy and then split the bill as well.
#47. Name-Brand Groceries
Just because a food is name brand doesn’t mean it is better or healthier. Many times the only guarantee is that it is more expensive.
How to avoid this money mistake: Consider buying store brands. Most are comparable quality and you can save money in the process.
When I bought my first house and money was tight, I ended up buying a lot of store brands to save money.
I rarely could tell the difference in taste or texture. The only thing I could tell a difference in was the lower grocery bill.
#48. Poop Bags
If you have a dog, you know how expensive a box of doggie poop bags can be. And don’t get me started on the special edition ones they are now pushing.
How to avoid this money mistake: Remember what the point of the bag is for, a way to carry poop. Try the dollar store to save money.
Or save the plastic grocery bags and use these as poop bags.
#49. Sandwich Bags
If you use a lot of sandwich bags, you know that they are an added cost to your bottom line. Luckily there are some options to help you save money on them.
How to avoid this money mistake: Start by reusing them. While you can’t reuse all of the sandwich bags, you can probably reuse many more than you think.
When we travel and store some personal care products in sandwich bags, we save the bags for our next trip.
Alternatively you can buy the store brand to save money. I would discourage you from buying them at the dollar store as this version tends to be thinner and lower quality.
Did you know that not only are you washing your hair too often, but you are probably using too much shampoo too?
How to avoid this money mistake: Cut back on the number of times you wash your hair.
Every other day is more than enough. And when it comes to the amount of shampoo you use, stick to a quarter size dollop or smaller.
#51. Fancy Gadgets
I love buying electronics but I quickly realized they are a waste of money. Why? Because they only decrease in value as time passes.
Remember when flat screen TVs first came out?
They were easily $4,000 or more. Now you can get a big one with higher quality for less than $1,000.
How to avoid this money mistake: First, figure out what you really need. Then see if you can wait a little while before you buy. Since prices come down in time, you might be able to save money this way.
Another option is to check out the open box or scratch and dent options. Many times you can save a lot of money going this route.
When we bought our last TV, we saved close to $600 because it had a scratch on it. But neither my wife nor I could find this scratch.
#52. Full-Priced Clothes
Clothing is expensive. Rarely should you be paying full price for clothes.
With so many retailers out there, you should be able to price compare to figure out what is a fair price for an article of clothing.
How to avoid this money mistake: Chances are there will always be some sale going on. In the event the item you want isn’t on sale, just wait for when it does.
If you really can’t wait, ask the cashier if there are any discounts that could be applied to the price or if there is a discount for paying in cash.
Most times you will be able to save money going this route.
#53. Holiday Gifts
Buying gifts for everyone is a great way to show your appreciation and love for them. But it is also easy to get too caught up in the holiday spirit and waste money.
How to avoid this money mistake: Luckily there are a handful of things you can do to keep money in your pocket.
- Stick to a budget. By following your budget and your list of items, you will be less likely to overspend.
- Pay attention. There are tons of sales during the holidays. Pay attention so you can ensure you pay the lowest price.
- It’s the idea that counts. I know this is an old saying, but it really is true. Handmade or really thoughtful gifts go a long way in showing your appreciation and love for someone.
By following these tips, you can limit the money you waste on holiday gifts.
#54. Valentine’s Day Flowers
This tip is related to the point above. You can easily overspend and waste money on Valentine’s Day flowers.
But if you are smart, you can save a lot money.
How to avoid this money mistake: First, find out what flowers your significant other loves the most and see if you can find these.
Odds are the price will be a lot less than with roses. Plus it shows you really know your significant other.
If you are buying roses, don’t buy them right before Valentine’s Day. Stores mark them up because of the demand.
A few years ago I did my own survey with a handful of local stores.
In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, a dozen roses cost on average $49.99. Then two weeks later, the same stores were selling a dozen roses for $18.99 on average.
The point is, if you can buy your roses earlier than the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
#55. Holiday Decorations
I know a lot of people who love to decorate their houses for each holiday. This is a fun experience and really brings each holiday alive and makes it memorable.
But you can easily waste money on holiday decorations.
How to avoid this money mistake: For starters, check out the dollar store for some basic decorations that you might be looking for.
After this, make it a point to shop after the holiday. You can easily save 50-75% on all sorts of decorations.
This is when we buy decorations and save a boatload of money.
It’s super convenient to have things delivered to you, including food, but many times you are wasting your money doing so.
The delivery service adds on various fees and then you have to tip the delivery person as well, adding to your cost.
How to avoid this money mistake: Pick up the items yourself is the best way to save money. Now for certain things, you have to have delivered, like furniture.
But this doesn’t mean you have to pay for it.
Take a few minutes and try to negotiate for free delivery from the store. Or ask when they offer free delivery and come back and place your order then.
When it comes to food, try to order take out at much as possible. Only opt for delivery when it is really necessary.
The fees some restaurants add on are ridiculous.
I recently ordered a pizza the delivery fees came to close to $9! And then I had to tip the driver. In all I could have ordered 2 pizzas for the amount of money I paid in fees and an a tip.
#57. Online Shipping
Related to delivery comes shipping your online orders. This fee can easily cost you $10 or more, depending on the retailer. Luckily, you can avoid this fee.
How to avoid this money mistake: With so much competition in the online world for your business, very rarely should you be paying shipping fees.
Most stores offer coupon codes for free shipping. The catch though is that some force you to spend a certain amount to get free shipping.
Don’t fall for this trap!
Do a quick search online to see if you can find a coupon for free shipping if the website doesn’t list one.
Another option is to use Amazon Prime. Yes you pay for this benefit, but if you order a lot from Amazon, the fee pays for itself.
You can try Prime out free for 30 days by clicking here.
As a last resort, you may be able to buy online and choose to pick up in store or have your item delivered to a local store for fee.
#58. Using Coupons
Using coupons to save money is a great thing. But did you know that coupons can end up making you spend more money overall?
How is this possible?
Many times we get caught up in the idea of saving money and end up buying items with a coupon to try it out.
While it is OK to try things out, you shouldn’t buy things just because you have a coupon for it.
How to avoid this money mistake: Before you buy anything with a coupon, ask yourself if this is something you really will eat or use.
If the answer is no, then you know the coupon does you no good and you can be happy that you didn’t waste money.
#59. Paying Full Price
If you are paying full price for things, you are wasting money, plain and simple. There are countless ways you can save money on the things you buy every day.
How to avoid this money mistake: The first thing you can do is do a quick online search to see if there are any coupon codes you can use that offer you a discount.
From there, if you are shopping online, use an online cash back site like Swagbucks.
You earn cash back for shopping at your favorite retailer through Swagbucks, saving you money.
New users get $5 when they join for free. Click here to get started.
Another option is to ask for a discount. You just have to ask the cashier if there are any coupons they have that can be applied to your purchase.
Many times you will find there are.
If not, ask if they offer a discount if you pay with cash. You will be surprised how often there is.
#60. Not Thinking Outside The Box
This one is related to being lazy, but I felt it deserved its own point. If you just go with the status quo, you are wasting money.
You need to start thinking outside the box to figure out how to save money on things you buy all the time.
By not thinking outside the box, you waste money.
For example, look at the salt you use for your driveway and sidewalks. Did you know you can use water softener salt and save a ton of money?
How to avoid this money mistake: Always be thinking and reading.
The more you do this and take in other people’s points of views and opinions, the more idea you will have for how to do things just a little differently and save money you otherwise wouldn’t be able to save.
Adding Up Your Wasted Money
In the moment, seeing how much you waste money might not seem like a big deal to you. After all, what is $5 here and there?
The reality is though that these small wastes of money add up. Just by looking a 3 or 4 of the ways you are wasting your money that I outlined, you could easily be throwing away close to $50 a month.
And most of us are guilty of many more than a couple of the items pointed out. So in any given month, you could be wasting close to $100!
Over the course of a year this comes to $1,200!
What would your life look like with an extra $1,200 a year?
By making a few small changes, you can keep more of the money you work so hard for and use this money to have a positive impact on your finances going forward.
How many of the above items are you guilty of wasting money on?
At the end of the day, many times you are wasting your money due to laziness.
In many of the examples, doing the alternative and saving money only takes a few extra minutes or some simple planning.
Take the first step and pick one or two of the ways you waste money the most and come up with a plan so you can start saving money instead.
After a few weeks, pick a few more items from the list and repeat the process. Slowly you will see more money in your bank account at the end of the month.
This will help you grow your wealth and put you in a better financial situation in the years to come.