You know that moment where you ask yourself:
Why on earth did I waste my money on that?
Some people know that feeling a little more than others.
But here’s what it comes down to:
I hate wasting money. And you probably do too.
So to get your finances under control – you have to figure out what’s actually worth spending money on.
Every dollar you spend is a trade-off.
You’re giving up the choice to save money, get out of debt, or reach other financial goals. These things add up.
So let’s talk about the not-so-obvious leaks in your budget:
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“It’s not how much money you make, but how much you keep.”
– Robert Kiyosaki
1 | Interest
Here’s the thing:
Lenders make a killing from the interest we pay on our credit cards, student loans, and other debt.
Do you ever look at your payments and realize that most of your money is going towards the interest and not the principal?
Unfortunately, you can’t just tell your lender to put the payment towards your principal.
You either have to 1) Pay More Each Month or 2) Lower Your Interest Rate
If you’ve read our debt payoff story, then you know that we love and recommend a company called SoFi.
If you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of debt, SoFi can be a lifesaver for your finances.
SoFi stands for social finance. And here’s what they do:
They combine all your debt into a single loan with a lower interest rate. As a result, you’ll pay less interest and lower your monthly payment.
So like I always tell people:
Even if you can’t afford to pay off your balances completely, don’t just settle for a high-interest rate.
Know your options.
SoFi offers student loan refinancing and personal loans for other debt.
Note: The SoFi link above gives you a $100 welcome bonus
“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.”
– Will Rogers
2 | Bottled Water
In the US, we spend (on average) $100 per person on bottled water each year. Bottled water costs up to 2,000 times more than tap water.
Talk about wasting money.
Purchasing a water filter can save you a ton of money in the long-run.
Elite Daily published a hilarious article on why we’re being stupid if we still buy bottled water.
Here’s their short summary of why people buy bottled water:
– They think it’s safer. Not true.
– They don’t like the taste of tap water. Buy a filter.
– They aren’t thinking about the environment. Please do.
Saving money and saving the environment? Win-win.
So here is the purifier and water bottles we recommend:
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
– Dave Ramsey
3 | Upgraded Shipping
You use to have to leave your house to waste money.
These days, with the internet at our fingertips, you can waste money while lying in bed – without even touching your wallet.
And upgraded shipping is one of the easiest traps to fall into.
When you want something, you want it now. And that’s what causes us to spend twice as much in shipping fees.
Listen, here’s the deal:
If you’re a regular online shopper, it makes sense to upgrade to a service like Amazon Prime. The cost of the membership will be less than the amount of shipping you’d pay.
But if you aren’t an avid online shopper, then remind yourself to stay away from upgraded shipping.
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
– James Frick
4 | Brand Name Medicines
For most products that are exactly the same – people would normally buy the cheaper one.
But for some reason, this isn’t true for brand-name medicines.
Even though they have the exact same ingredients, many people don’t go with the generic.
There’s a $20 difference for those two medicines even though they the exact same ingredients. That’s insane.
“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.”
– Pablo Picasso
5 | Hot Water
Some old habits are hard to kick.
Admittedly, I used to have a bad habit of going for hot water when I brushed my teeth, washed my hands, or did the dishes.
But then I realized I was wasting money on hot water when I didn’t need it. You might be too.
Don’t overlook your washing machine, either.
Did you know that 90% of the energy used by our washing machines goes to heating the water?
This is why manufacturers have been lowering wash temperatures to meet energy standards.
But washers and laundry detergents have improved, so you no longer have to rely on hot water to get your clothes clean. This means there’s very little difference in wash performance if you go with cold water instead.
“Enough is better than too much.”
– Dutch Proverb
6 | Wasted Gym Memberships
It’s that time of the year where people start signing up for their local gym. But just a few weeks later, more than half of those people stop going.
So if you don’t go to the gym on a weekly basis then it’s probably best to cancel your membership. Work out at home.
“Know what you own, and know why you own it.”
– Peter Lynch
7 | Sandwich Bags
Sandwich bags make things easy.
But if you’re packing a lunch or storing food – it’s much cheaper in the long-term to use lunch containers instead.
“Rich people stay rich by living like they’re broke. Broke people stay broke by living like they’re rich.”
8 | Shaving Cream
Did you know that cheap hair conditioner works just as good as expensive shaving creams?
This conditioner is great because the bottles are huge and they last forever. Plus, the scent is amazing.
“Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both.”
– Benjamin Franklin
9 | Premium Gas
Buying premium gas costs around $0.20 to $0.40 more per gallon, and it’s probably not even necessary.
Today’s car engines are made to protect themselves. So most cars run fine with regular gas.
But if you aren’t sure whether your car needs premium, then take a look at Edmund’s Premium Recommended Guide.
“Being a smart shopper is the first step to getting rich.”
– Mark Cuban
10 | Cable
It’s hard to pull the plug on cable. I get it.
But sticking with cable could mean you’re wasting money – especially when services like Amazon Instant Video offer many of the same movies and shows.
So if you’re making the switch, I recommend checking out Amazon Instant Video, Hulu or Netflix to see if they offer your favorites.
You’ll save a ton of money if you switch. For example, Amazon Instant Video is only $99/year. Hulu is as low as $5.99/mo.
If you don’t like it then you can switch back. But, I’ve never known anyone to go back to cable once they made the change.
“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
– Benjamin Franklin
11 | Movie Theater Concessions
There’s a lot of great movies coming out this year.
But let me point this out:
The average ticket cost is $8. And according to AMC’s website, a large popcorn + 2 large drinks costs $20.79.
Movie theaters actually make more money from food sales than they do from movie tickets.
Yep, that candy and soda is the biggest waste of money. You can find them much cheaper at the grocery store.
So if you’re going to see a movie, then eat beforehand or bring your own snacks.
“A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.”
– William Feather
12 | Wasted Food
The average American household throws away $2,200 worth of food each year.
Impulse shopping, lack of meal planning, and throwing away leftovers account for about 40% of wasted food in the US.
If you really want to get smart about food, then start meal prepping for the week ahead.
That way, when you have those “I don’t feel like cooking nights” – you’ll have something to eat instead of hitting up the drive-thru.
And if you really want to be smart with your money, get a FoodSaver.
Here’s the thing:
Meat and produce are the two most expensive items in the grocery store. They also go bad the quickest.
So if you use a FoodSaver to seal your food, then you can keep it fresher 5 times longer.
And you’ll be able to stock up on meat when it actually goes on sale.
“Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior.”
– Dave Ramsey
13 | Extended Warranties
Extended warranties are great opportunities for wasting money.
Sure, the TV costs $650, but that warranty is costing you an 10% extra to protect it.
That’s a good deal when the alternative is paying another $650 if stops working, right?
Realistically, the TV you just bought has a very low failure rate (usually only about 2% – 4%)
So you should really be multiplying the cost of your purchase by the likelihood it will break.
“Money, like emotions, is something you must control to keep your life on the right track.”
– Natasha Munson
14 | Lottery Tickets
Where I live, everyone and their mom plays the lottery.
Playing the lottery can be fun sometimes, but overall – it’s money going down the drain.
You’re more likely to get struck by lightning twice than win the lottery.
“Money isn’t everything, but it’s right up there with oxygen.”
– Zig Ziglar
15 | Paper & Plastic Products
Paper/Plastic plates, cups, napkins, and utensils are convenient because there’s no clean-up.
But those things add up. (And they’re terrible for the environment)
And how many times do you wipe messes with paper towels instead of a washable rang?
Or use way too much toilet paper?
“You can have excuses or you can have success; you can’t have both.”
– Jen Sincero
16 | Appetizers
Randomly enough, Forbes recently wrote an article about the biggest ripoffs from restaurants.
The top of the list?
Yep, you guessed it. Appetizers.
Some restaurants think they can charge up to $14 for a bowl of mashed avocados with some spices and call it guacamole.
So, unless you’re sharing a meal with someone, then you’ll probably end up with more food than you can eat if you order an appetizer too.
If you have leftovers, make sure to get them to go.
“Look everywhere you can to cut a little bit from your expenses. It will all add up to a meaningful sum.”
– Suze Orman
17 | Regular Coffee Trips
If you’re like me, your day doesn’t start until you’ve had your first sip of coffee.
But if you spend $5 each weekday on coffee – that’s $100 a month right there.
Meanwhile, making coffee at home only costs between $0.16 and $0.18 per cup.
For most of us, the realization is that our beloved coffee trips are wasting money. It’s much cheaper to just brew it at home.
So invest in a coffee maker and take advantage of free coffee at work.
Since not everyone can afford a fancy Keurig, I like the Bella Coffee Maker from Amazon. It works just as good.
“A budget is you telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
– John C. Maxwell
18 | Vending Machines
Most places have them and it feels like they stare us down and tempt us into spending money.
But if you spend $1 each weekday, that’s $260 each year wasted on chips, sodas, or candy.
Since vending machine snacks and drinks are marked up so high, it’s smarter to just bring your own snacks instead.
“You must learn to save first and spend afterwards.”
– John Poole
19 | Nail Salons
Nail salons are great for special occasions.
But in the long-run, you can save a ton of money by doing your own gel nails at home.
Plus, Amazon has LED nail dryers that’ll cure your manicure if you do it at home.
There’s also plenty of nail sets that only cost a few bucks. You can’t beat it.
“Saving must become a priority, not just a thought. Pay yourself first.”
– Dave Ramsey
20 | In-App Purchases
It’s not that these are super expensive; they’re just a complete waste of money.
App revenue for Androids is up over 700% this year from last year.
Why are people spending their money on this stuff?
Make sure to have a password on your account if anyone other than you will be using your phone.
If you have kids, then you already know that leaving them with your phone can cause major issues.
Let us know in the comments: what are you going to stop wasting money on?
Thanks for reading.