Wasting money can be an easy thing to do if you are not careful. If you want to improve your financial situation and learn how to save money, you’ll first need to figure out how you’re wasting money.
Now, not everything mentioned in this post is a complete waste of money, but sometimes these things can lead to unnecessary overspending if you are not careful.
Many people just take an expense as-is, and don't question it.
However, you should be asking questions and shopping around because you may be able to save money by doing so. You never know, even the simple question of “how can I get a discount” can help you make a smart purchase while not wasting money!
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Instead of wasting money on the things below, you can be putting your hard earned dollars towards your next vacation, a retirement fund, a college fund, or something else.
I hope this article helps you analyze your expenses and see where you may be overspending. And, I do understand that there are plenty of reasons for why a person may spend money on some of the things below; however, the point is to see if YOU should be spending as much on these things.
Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong answer. I am a firm believer that money should be enjoyed and everyone enjoys spending their money on different things. However, that doesn’t mean you should be wasting money.
Here are 14 things that may be wasting money on.
While a wedding can be a special event to spend your money on, you may be wasting money by not finding ways to lower your wedding expenses.
I recently read that more and more brides and grooms are taking out wedding loans in order to fund this single event.
Considering that the average wedding is now over $30,000, wedding loans can be quite big, and this can be a terrible way to start a new life together. Starting your marriage with debt like this may lead to stress, unhappiness, fights, and even regret for spending that amount of money.
Nearly every married couple I’ve talked with says that they definitely did not need to spend so much money on this one day, especially if it could have led to negative financial implications.
If you cannot afford a wedding, there are many ways to have a more affordable wedding day while creating long lasting memories. These includes doing things such as:
- Limiting your guest list. You may really want to include your second cousin's best friend's sister, but trimming your guest list will cut down on costs related to food, alcohol, venue size, and more.
- Skipping the diamond. Engagement and wedding rings do not have to be diamonds in order to have a successful marriage. Other alternatives may be a ring that you make yourself, moissanite, a simple band, and so on.
- DIYing certain aspects of your wedding. DIYing isn't always cheaper, but there are some instances in which you may save money. This can include making the table decorations yourself, arranging your own flowers, making your own wedding cake, and more.
- Going to the court house. You don't need to have a huge and expensive wedding in order to be happy!
TV and cable.
I understand that watching TV can be fun, and it may not be a complete waste of money. However, if you are paying for an expensive cable package and are financing your TV, then you may be wasting money on things that you don't exactly need.
Really, the average household probably doesn’t need as expensive of a TV package as they have.
For us, we completely got rid of cable, Netflix, Hulu, and everything else. Now, we just watch local channels using a digital antenna, and we don't miss paying for TV at all!
According to the NPD Group (a market research company), the average monthly cable bill is around $120. By the year 2020, the average cable bill is expected to be around $200 a month.
Considering that the average person wastes over 30 hours each week on TV, I'm going to assume that most of these people aren’t very happy with the amount of time they are wasting.
Instead, why not try to get rid of TV completely? You’ll not only be gaining hours each week, you’ll stop wasting money at the same time.
Buying bottled water.
Water is valuable, don't get me wrong about that. But, in this section, I'm talking about buying individual bottles of water from the store that may cost $1, $2, or even more for just water!
According to The Water Project, the average person in the U.S. spends around $100 per year on bottled water.
Instead of spending $100 on bottled water each year, you can probably drink the water from your own faucet. You can even buy a water filter if you want to.
Note: I do realize there are some towns where water is not clean enough to drink, and in those places, water needs to be bought. However that is most likely not the average person.
Paying to see your credit score.
Some companies will charge to check your credit score, and some people even pay for this on a monthly basis.
The truth, though, is that you can receive your credit score for free a few times a year.
It never hurts to check your credit score, and you have no reason not to know what your credit score is.
Your credit score can affect whether or not you are approved for a loan, whether you are hired at certain jobs, your interest rate, and more. It’s relatively easy to raise your credit score, so you should start doing so today!
You can also receive one annual free credit report from the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). Yes, this means that you get one from EACH, so three per year. I recommend spacing them out so you get one every 4 months. You can read more about this here.
Paying for extra warranties.
Everyone has been hit with the question of whether or not to purchase the extended warranty when buying a particular item. Sometimes they are useful, but I have come to realize that, for the most part, buying one leads to wasting money.
Personally, I have bought numerous extra warranties that were not honored because of one ridiculous excuse after another. We recently bought an expensive item for our RV and were offered an extended warranty. We declined it, but the cashier said that they actually had a coupon to make the extended warranty free. We said yes since it was free, but I still can't believe they asked us to pay for it first.
Before you purchase your next warranty, you should analyze the agreement and see if it is worthwhile. In many cases, a warranty is not worth it because of strict rules, expensive deductibles, and more. Also, check to see what kind of free warranty already comes with the product. In many cases, it is enough.
Your cell phone bill.
This probably comes as no surprise, but most people are overpaying for their cell phone plan.
Cell phone bills can easily cost over $100 per month, and if you have a family, then you may be paying a few hundred dollars per month.
Even though most people are not happy with their cell phone bill, many have yet to take the time to look around to compare pricing. This is because many people are afraid of losing their phone number, the possibility of a different plan or company being worse, and so on.
In most cases, you may be able to keep your cell phone number. If you can't, saving hundreds of dollars over the course of a year often warrants the case for switching to a lower-cost plan. Not wasting money can make losing your number worthwhile.
And, if you can't afford a cell phone, then any plan would just be a complete waste of money. Yes, there are actually people who don't have cell phones and they do just fine.
If you are looking for a more affordable cell phone service, then I recommend looking at Republic Wireless. They have monthly cell phone plans for as low as $15 per month, and both my sister-in-law and mother-in-law use them for their cell phone needs.
Please read Saving Over $2,000 A Year With Republic Wireless Review for more information.
Accommodations on vacation.
Many people still think that hotels are the only places to stay at when on vacation. However, that's totally wrong!
Thanks to today's technology, you can easily find homes that other people own and rent out to travelers.
Hotels are still great for vacations, but they aren't your only option. You may be wasting money by only comparing hotel prices.
My preferred way to travel is to stay in short-term rental vacation homes such as Airbnb (this link will give you a $20+ Airbnb coupon code for your next stay).
Airbnb vacation home rates are usually comparable or cheaper than a hotel, plus you typically have more room and there is usually a kitchen as well. Also, if you have a lot of people going on vacation with you, you can split a house for a much cheaper price than it would cost for everyone to get a hotel room.
Read my Airbnb review The Many Positives Of Using Airbnb Plus a Coupon Code For Your Next Vacation!
Not being smart about vacations.
To go along with the above, many people are also wasting money on expensive vacations. Now, I'm not saying that vacations are a waste of money, because I definitely do not think that.
Instead, I'm saying that if you are smart about planning, you don't need to spend thousands of dollars in order to go on a fun and memorable vacation.
One of my favorite easy ways to save money is to get bonus points and cash back on my credit card purchases.
In 2016, me and my husband earned over $5,000 in free cash just by using our credit cards like we normally would. We put all of our expenses on our credit cards, completely pay them off each month, and earn free rewards points and cash back.
Plus, did you know that you can take a 10 day trip to Hawaii for just $22.40?
Yes, it’s possible! I recommend reading How To Take A 10 Day Trip To Hawaii For $22.40 – Flights & Accommodations Included for more information.
And, if you don't want to do that, there are still many other smart ways to save money on vacations, including:
- Being flexible with your flight.
- Traveling in the mid or off season.
- Staying in an Airbnb (mentioned above) for a better travel budget.
- Asking for a discount at the hotel you are staying at.
- Eating like a local.
- Buying groceries and eating out less.
Related: How To Travel On a Budget
Debt can be a waste of money.
Yes, there are strategic reasons to keep debt, but if you do not have a strategic reason, then paying it off is most likely your best bet.
Debt can lead to wasting money on interest charges, especially if you have high-interest rate debt. This is because the interest charges you are paying continue to build up until you are able to completely pay off your loan.
If you have never done so, I want you to add up how much interest you are paying each day and each month towards all of your debt. I bet you will be shocked!
Related article: How To Eliminate Your Debt
The average person spends way too much money on their car and is actually wasting money on it.
In fact, according to Edmunds.com, the average person in the U.S. spends $483 on a new car payment and $361 on a used car payment.
Yes, I was also shocked when I read that statistic!
This is sad, especially considering that many also take out high-interest loans in order to pay for their car. Back when my husband worked in new car sales, he often told me about new car buyers who had car loans at interest rates of 20% and above.
While $483 a month may be affordable to some, I’m going to assume that it’s a waste of money for the average person. Plus, once you add in gas, maintenance, insurance, taxes, registration costs, and more, the number is going to be much larger.
I think everyone should buy a car that they can actually afford. I am a big believer that your car expenses should be less than 10-15% of your monthly income in order for it to be affordable.
Only buying new.
I used to work at a used clothing store, and I would often hear people say that they were too good for anything that was used.
However, why would someone be too good to save money? If you can buy something that you need at a discount, while still being in good condition, then why would you turn that down and purchase the same thing for much more?
Purchasing used furniture, clothing, and more allows you to save money on the things you are already buying.
Sometimes, you can even get items for free by seeing what friends, family, and neighbors are trying to get rid of, or by perusing the free section on Craigslist.
Trust me, people want to give away their stuff! It’s much easier than trying to find a place to donate things (some places actually have too many donations and have to say no), plus it can mean the person doesn’t have to haul it away.
Wasting money at the grocery store can be an easy thing to do. You may buy tons of food with plans to make amazing meals, but often the items may rot away in your fridge and expire in your pantry. If you aren’t careful with your grocery spending, then this can be a huge waste of money.
Plus, learning easy ways to save money on groceries doesn't have to be difficult.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average family of four spends around $700 to $1,000 a month on food. That’s a lot of money, especially considering that most families waste around 40% of food each month!
You can save money on groceries by:
- Planning your grocery trips better.
- Using this cell phone app for cash back on your groceries.
- Start meal planning.
- Always shop with a grocery list.
- See if there are any sales for the items you are buying.
- Use coupons when grocery shopping.
- Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry.
- Skip the pre-made and pre-cut items.
- Sign up for the grocery store’s loyalty card.
Your gym membership.
You may be wasting money on a gym membership if you are not using it fully.
Sadly, though, gyms make their money off of people who don't come in to use their memberships. While it’s beneficial for some to pay for a gym membership, the majority of people do not get their money’s worth.
If you're not getting the full value of your gym membership, then you should cancel it ASAP. This is one of the easiest ways to save money, as canceling a membership is a monthly cost that you can get rid of completely!
There are so many ways to get a great workout both inside and outside your home. You can ride your bike, go for a hike, or even do circuit training from the comfort of your living room. As you can see, it’s easy to stop wasting money on a gym membership.
Your insurance premiums.
Insurance is a necessary expense, but you may be paying for extras that are a waste of money. Or, you may be wasting money by not shopping around for better plans and lower prices.
The average person does pay too much for various forms of insurance. Yes, I said too much! I know someone who has full coverage car insurance with a deductible on a car that is worth $500, I know someone who pays for towing even though their new car comes with free towing, and there are even more situations like this.
A lot of this is because the average person doesn't fully understand how insurance works. However, it's something that you'll definitely want to learn about because it can save you a great deal of money in the future!
Stop wasting money on insurance by:
- Shopping around.
- Evaluating whether or not you should change your deductible.
- Changing some of your coverage amounts.
- Understanding insurance terms better.
- Possibly taking a driving class.
I also recommend simply calling your insurance agent and asking for a discount, as many times they will offer a discount that will allow you to save money just for asking! This is one of the super easy ways to save money, as a simple phone call may only take a few minutes.
Many of these same tactics can be applied to your home insurance bill and travel insurance as well.
What expenses do you think are a waste of money? How are you currently wasting money?
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