You may believe you’re diligent with your dollars, but Dave Ramsey thinks there’s room for improvement. However, it’s not about the extravagant purchases, but rather your ordinary habits that might be nibbling away at your bank balance.
Here are 10 everyday ways Dave Ramsey says you’re wasting money.
Regularly Using Single-Use Items
- Why It Wastes Money: Buying single-use items — such as paper towels, bottled water and self-sealing bags — on the regular is one way you’re wasting money. Dave Ramsey suggests switching to reusable items.
- What To Do Instead: Rather than buying paper towels, start using hand towels. Instead of buying bottled water, buy a reusable water bottle. As for self-sealing bags, opt for plastic containers with lids that you can wash and reuse over and over.
Buying Only Name-Brand Items
- Why It Wastes Money: Store brands are often the same as — or very similar to — name-brand items, so, essentially, you’re paying more for the same thing when you buy the name-brand product. If you’ve never shopped generic or store brands because you’re worried about quality or taste, give them a whirl. Often, the only discernible difference is less eye-catching packaging. You might even find that you like the generic product better.
- What To Do Instead: Ramsey says you don’t need to buy only brand-names — especially at the grocery store. Compare prices between brand-names and generics when it comes to groceries, medications, trash bags and cleaning supplies, and you’ll likely realize big savings.
Eating Out for Lunch Every Day
- Why It Wastes Money: If you spend $15 for lunch every day, five days per week, that’s $75. In a month, it’s $300. You can prepare your lunch at home much more cheaply.
- What To Do Instead: Dave Ramsey suggests planning your meals in advance and eating leftovers when available. This can help you avoid eating out at lunchtime — and also getting food delivery in the evening after work.
Getting Coffee on the Way to Work
- Why It Wastes Money: If you spend $5 on coffee every weekday morning, that’s a $100 expense every month, which totals up to $1,200 per year. Surely, there’s a better use for over $1,000 — like padding your emergency fund.
- What To Do Instead: Dave Ramsey suggests brewing your own coffee, which you can do for around $25 a month.
- Why It Wastes Money: Overbuying produce — or any perishable food — means that you probably won’t be able to use it before it goes bad, Ramsey points out. The result is having to throw it in the trash.
- What To Do Instead: Buy only what you know you’ll be able to use within a few days. Also, find out ways to store produce so it stays fresher longer.
Not Using Cash-Back Apps or Coupons
- Why It Wastes Money: Not using coupons or cash-back apps, such as Upside, Ibotta, or Rakuten, will result in a missed opportunity for savings.
- What To Do Instead: Try out different cash-back apps and look for coupons when shopping.
Falling Victim to Mindless Scroll Shopping
- Why It Wastes Money: If you’ve ever been bored, you’ve probably found yourself mindlessly scrolling your favorite shopping app and possibly buying things you really don’t need.
- What To Do Instead: Ramsey suggests taking shopping apps off your phone. If you don’t want to do that, remove your credit card information from the app or site so it’s much less convenient to order.
Buying in Bulk When It Doesn’t Make Sense
- Why It Wastes Money: It’s true that you can potentially save a lot by buying in bulk, but only if you buy the right items. For example, buying non-perishable goods, such as toilet paper, that you know you’ll use and have storage room for makes sense. However, buying a bulk food item that will go bad before you can eat it all — or something that’s not a tried-and-true favorite of your family, such as two jumbo boxes of a new breakfast cereal — does not make sense.
- What To Do Instead: Only buy in bulk when it makes sense. And another smart money move from Ramsey is to always check the per unit price to see if you’re really saving or if it’s cheaper to buy the same product in a smaller quantity at the grocery store.
Buying Prepackaged Grocery Items
- Why It Wastes Money: Prepackaged grocery items, including fresh meals, cut-up fruit and bagged salads, are more expensive than doing it yourself, because you pay for the convenience. According to Ramsey, bagged salad with a packet of dressing and other fixings costs double what a head of lettuce and some homemade dressing would.
- What To Do Instead: Buy uncut fruit and vegetables and avoid pre-made meals.
Eating Meat at Every Meal
- Why It Wastes Money: Meat can be more expensive than other protein sources, such as canned beans.
- What To Do Instead: Opt for a meatless meal once or twice a week, says Ramsey.
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