There are many ways to waste money. Most times it’s because of a math error where we think we are getting a better deal than what we think. Other times, it simply because we get overly excited about something and the idea of being smart with our money goes out the window.
But whatever the reason, the fact is, the more we spend money unintentionally, the further away we get from reaching our financial goals. This means it will take longer for us to have the down payment for our house, it will be longer until we get to experience the tropical vacation we want to go on, and longer until we are able to retire.
The solution then is to stop all of the ways we waste money. But how do we do this and where do we typically waste a lot of money?
Below are 3 areas where many of us waste money the most. I’ll also talk about some simple tips to help stop you from wasting money in other areas of your life too.
3 Ways We Waste Money
#1. Getting In Shape
Whether it’s a pair of pants that just won’t button or an unflattering picture, when the idea pops in our minds that we need to lose a few pounds, smart money habits go out the window. We sign up for a year-long gym membership and visit for a few months before falling back to our old ways.
This isn’t just limited to the gym either. Infomercials touting the latest fitness gadget part us from our money too.
Of course there is the clothing too. If we are going to go to the gym, we need workout clothes. And a water bottle. And new headphones. And downloaded music to listen to as well. All of this costs money.
Before jumping headfirst into a new fitness routine and new lifestyle, slow down. Go for walks, runs or bike rides at first. Do body weight exercises at home like pushups, pullups, squats and burpees to get into a routine.
If after a few weeks you still have the desire to do more, then you can look into signing up for a gym membership or even consider workout routines at home. But even then, get a free trial and then sign up for only a month or two.
The gym rep might try to convince you that you will pay more each month by signing a month-to-month contract, but you are better off paying $70 for two months and finding out the gym isn’t your thing than to sign up for a year, pay over $500 and only go twice.
As a side note, if you did sign up for that gym membership and now want out, check out Clarity Money. They might be able to help you get rid of the membership and save money!
#2. Eating Right
The same idea with working out applies to eating healthy. Most of us dive right in. We buy $150 worth of fruit and vegetables. A few weeks later, we end up throwing most of it out either because we gave up or we simply bought too much and couldn’t eat it fast enough.
Take it slow at first. Buy enough food to last you a few days. When you run out, make a trip to the store and buy more. It sounds counter-intuitive to do it this way, but it will save you money in the long run for the simple fact that most of us will go off course.
When I started to eat healthy, I dove in and wasted a ton of money. I threw out close to 70% of what I bought. Frustrated, I gave up on the idea.
But a few months later, I was ready to try again. But this time I took a different approach. Instead of completely overhauling my diet, I made a plan to simply add a few fruits and nuts to my diet. I mainly ate these for snacks.
Once this new trend became a habit, I began to buy some vegetables. I slowly added them into my meals and again, after this became a habit, only then did I start going and buying larger amounts of healthy food. And when I did begin to buy healthier food, I learned what healthy foods cost the least so I didn’t destroy my budget.
#3. New Wardrobe
Let’s say you ended up sticking to your diet and workout routine and lost ten pounds. Congratulations. What you shouldn’t do is go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Many times we lose the weight and think that the diet is over and we can go back to life as it was before the diet.
This is not the case. You have a new lifestyle now. If you go back to living the life you were before the diet, you are going to gain those ten pounds back in no time, and maybe even more.
Wait until you have successfully kept the weight off for a few months. At that point, you can begin to buy new clothes. But don’t buy everything at once. Slowly add needed items to your wardrobe over time.
Start with the basics and go from there. In many cases, you should be able to avoid buying new pants. You could just buy a belt instead. Of course, if you lost a significant amount of weight this plan won’t work, but in many cases it will.
Finally, when buying new clothes, make it a point to buy quality. There is no point in buying the cheapest priced clothes you can find. Odds are they are poorly made and will wear out much quicker than higher priced, higher quality items.
You can read more about how to buy clothes the right way here.
Tricks To Help You Waste Money No More
So those are the main areas we waste money. But how do we overcome math errors or getting sucked into deals when we are out shopping? There are a few things you can do.
First, before you buy anything, stop and wait. Our greatest fault is that our emotions work faster than our logic. So we make emotional purchases and decisions and regret them later.
By stopping, you give yourself a chance to think things through. Leave the store and walk around some more. As you walk, think about why you want the item and if you really need it. Many times you will realize that buying it isn’t the best use of your money.
Second, learn the tricks advertisers and stores use to get you to spend your money. No sale is the greatest thing ever. And even if they say this sale will never happen again, odds are it will if it was a big hit in driving traffic and sales into the store.
We all waste money. Most of the time, we can overcome this waste by simply taking some time to allow ourselves to think through things. Always try to keep in mind what your financial goals are in life.
What are you saving for? What experiences do you spend money on that brings you the most joy? Remember these things when you are tempted to buy and odds are, you will begin to waste less money.
Over time, less wasted money means more money that you can spend on the things and goals that really matter to you.
Hi, my name is Jon and I run Penny Thots. I blog about many personal finance topics, but my specialties lie in investing, paying off debt, and achieving your financial goals. You can learn more about me on the Author Page.