Without a lot of financial discipline, it’s actually quite easy in this day and age to end up wasting money. Everywhere you look, temptations to overspend abound.
Add in the natural human tendency to overspend on “wants” instead of “needs,” and sometimes you can be wasting money without even realizing it.
To help protect yourself from falling into this trap, take a look at these common money wasters and see whether you can eliminate them from your life.
Eating Out Instead of Cooking at Home
This one’s obvious. Regardless of what you eat, it will almost always be cheaper for you to eat at home instead of dining out. In fact, you can often prepare even a gourmet meal at home for less than you would pay at a fast-food restaurant.
Paying Installment Fees on Your Insurance Policies
Most car and home insurance policies tack on fees if you choose to pay monthly instead of in a lump sum once or twice per year.
Paying Late Fees
When it comes to your finances, don’t be lazy. Always know when your payment due dates are, and don’t waste money on late fees.
Paying ATM Fees
Some banks charge high fees for using “out-of-network” ATMs, so that’s something you should avoid. Better yet, use a bank that reimburses you for any ATM fees that you are charged.
Paying Checking Account Fees
In this day and age, it’s easy to get a free checking account from an FDIC-insured bank. If your bank wants to charge you for the privilege, consider finding another one.
Paying for Streaming Services You Don’t Use
According to Forbes, nearly 50% of people subscribe to streaming services that they don’t even use. If you’re going to pay for something, make sure you use it. Otherwise, you’re simply throwing money away.
Not Comparison Shopping
Very few things in life cost the same amount at every single retailer. If you’re buying something, always comparison shop, especially if it’s a high-ticket item.
Using the More Expensive Grocery Store
Most towns have more than one grocery store. Do yourself a favor and check out the lower-priced option to ensure you aren’t wasting money.
Paying Bag Fees on Airlines
Some airlines, like Southwest, don’t charge for baggage. Others offer free bags to their elite customers or those with branded credit cards. If you must pay for bags, consider paying in advance, which often saves you money over buying at the gate.
Not Leveraging Points and Miles
If you earn points or miles through the use of a credit card, don’t let them expire. Do your best to maximize their value.
Buying a New Car
The cost of a new car now averages close to $50,000, but it will still depreciate just as fast as ever. Save yourself some money by looking at a pre-owned vehicle that’s a few years old.
Running Air Con (or Heating) 24/7
Give your heating and cooling devices a break once in a while. You’ll save both on your monthly utility bill and on wear and tear.
Buying in Bulk When You Live Alone
Warehouse clubs often have good prices; but, if you live alone, you’re likely to end up wasting a good portion of the bulk packs that you’re required to buy.
Leaving Lights on When You Leave the House
You don’t need to see when you aren’t there, so don’t waste money by leaving the lights on when you head outside.
Not Getting Regular Health Checkups
Annual checkups are typically covered by insurance, but chronic, long-term illnesses may cost you a lot of money beyond what your insurance company pays. Keep yourself in tip-top shape to avoid wasting money in the future.
Using Premium Gasoline When Unnecessary
Only cars that specify “premium gasoline only” really benefit from this higher-priced option.
Not Checking Interest Rates on Loans
The lending industry is a competitive one. Use that to your advantage when taking out a loan by shopping around for the best available rate.
Paying Credit Card Fees and Not Getting Value Out of Them
If you’re paying $350 per year for your credit card but aren’t even taking advantage of your perks, it’s time to look for a no-cost option.
Not Taking Care of Your Possessions
If you don’t take care of what you own, you’ll end up having to repair or replace things much more frequently, costing you money you really shouldn’t have to spend.
Buying Pre-Sliced Food
Buying things like pre-sliced vegetables is an expensive way to be lazy. It doesn’t really take much time to chop your carrots, for example, but you might end up paying twice as much if you let someone else do it for you.
Buying Insurance You Don’t Need
You don’t need to buy insurance on everything — especially when you’re already covered. For example, when you rent a car, you’ll always be offered insurance, but it’s highly likely that the credit card you’re using — or your own personal car insurance — will suffice.
Buying Everything That’s ‘On Sale’
Some shoppers buy things they don’t even need simply because they’re “on sale.” Knowing this, many retailers list things as being “on sale” when they’re really not, simply trying to lure in additional buyers.
Spending When You’re Having a Bad Day
So-called “retail therapy” is often just a euphemism for “wasting money.” If you need to buy things that you don’t even need just to cheer yourself up, it’s a sign that you’re a money waster.
Keeping Up With the Joneses
The age-old American obsession of “keeping up with the Joneses” is the perfect example of how many people waste money. Just because your neighbor has a new flashy car or is adding another level to their home doesn’t mean you have to.
Overpaying for Gas
Gasoline is the ultimate commodity. While you shouldn’t drive 50 miles in quest of cheaper gas, use an app and find where the cheapest stations in your neighborhood are, as they may be only a block or two down the road.