Personal Finance

Top 20 Things That You Shouldn’t Waste Money On

stop wasting money chalkboardWe all do it from time to time — splurge on some self-indulgent purchase that you probably don’t need. But, hey, you have to treat yourself every so often. Those occasional expenditures are perfectly fine, but imagine if you were squandering excessive amounts of money for frivolous things on a routine basis. You probably couldn’t fathom it, because you don’t have that kind of cash to throw around with reckless abandon.

Well guess what, you’re already doing it. That’s right, you are spending far more money than you need to every month. Unfortunately it’s not on fun toys or an airplane ticket bound for somewhere exotic. No, you’re just paying through the nose for little things like coffee and ATM fees — but they add up. The bottom line is you need to stop wasting your money on things that you can spend less to enjoy or avoid paying for altogether with just a little bit of advance planning. The rest of it you can cut out of your life entirely.

Here are the top twenty biggest money wasters that most people blow their cash on with regularity and don’t even realize it. Don’t be one of them; wise up and save your money for something you really want instead.

20. Bottled Water

We spend millions of dollars a year on something that comes out of the tap in our kitchens and bathrooms. Sure, maybe your city’s drinking water doesn’t taste as good or maybe has a few contaminants in it that you might be concerned about, but you can slap a water filter on the tap at a few bucks every two or three months and still spend less than what most people drop on bottled water.

In fact, there’s really no reason to buy bottled water like Dasani or Evian unless you’re in a country where drinking the water can physically make you ill, like in parts of Mexico or some other far flung nation. Buying bottled water here doesn’t make much sense and it’s not so hot for the environment either.  You may feel warm and fuzzy tossing those bottles into a recycling bin but the reality is that you didn’t need to use those resources in the first place.

19. Coffee

Many of us can’t start our day without that first cup of coffee. But how many of us are spending five or six bucks each morning to have that cup of coffee? Don’t waste your money on the fancy labels and just make coffee at home instead. You can save major amounts of cash using the coffee maker on your counter and it’s still the same drink you can get at your local Coffee Bean. Some consumers will invest in a Keurig machine and buy 12-packs of K-cups for the same price as one Venti Half-Caf, No Foam Latte from Starbucks. You don’t need all that if all you want is a good hot cuppa joe; and you can get it for a lot less in the comfort of your own kitchen.

18. Insurance

OK, you do need insurance. Whether it’s health, home, or car insurance, you have to purchase at least one, if not two, of those types of policies. You can’t drive a car legally without holding some kind of responsibility in case of an accident. There’s no choice in the matter. What you can control, however, is the extent of your coverage. If you have too much then you’re likely paying for additions to your policy that you don’t need. Consider dropping certain things like rental car coverage or other components that you may never use. The best way to determine what is necessary and what is not can be based on your driving habits, where you park your vehicle, and how many miles you put on the odometer each year.

17. Bad Habits

Some bad habits are dramatically worse than others, not just on your health but on your wallet. So the best way to kick those habits is by refraining from spending money on them. This includes cigarettes, alcohol, even junk food. That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t enjoy a drink or a cupcake once in awhile but when these things become habitual, it might be time to slow down on consuming them.

Cigarettes, on the other hand, those are really bad for you and you should quit immediately. Easier said than done, I realize, but better you spend your money on patches or prescriptions to help you quit than keep throwing away good money on ruining your health.

16. Cell Phone Plans

Much like with your insurance policy, you may be paying too much for your cell phone. The big wireless companies like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile offer customers a variety of rate plans that include calls, texts, and data. Only you know how much you actually use each month but in case you’re not entirely sure, check your bills for a few cycles and see how much data you’re really using on a month-to-month basis. You may find out that you’re paying for a whole lot more than you need and you can drop your current plan for one that is a whole lot cheaper.

15. Designer Labels

We all enjoy wearing name brands that portray an image of luxury or status but let’s be honest: you’re paying more for something solely because it has a certain name on it. Some would argue that the name equals quality and in some cases this is entirely true. But when it comes to things like clothes, sunglasses, and shoes, you can find alternatives of similar quality that don’t have recognizable names embroidered upon them. In these instances, you can spend less for the same garment and still enjoy a well-made product. Saving money means not being a show off and many people buy designer items simply to show everyone else how well off they are, even if it’s not a truthful reflection of their reality.

14. Bank Fees

The two words seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Banks and fees come hand in hand when you’re trying to conduct any number of transactions that involve your money. Just three of the big banks, Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, brought in an estimated $5.8 billion dollars collecting overdraft and ATM fees alone in 2015. That is a mind-boggling number and it was paid out by people just like you and me who didn’t use the right ATM or overspent on a purchase by mistake.

To avoid being part of this staggering statistic, find ways to avoid falling into these financial traps. If you own a Chase ATM card, don’t use it at a Wells Fargo ATM. Both banks will charge you a fee for doing so. Instead, track down a Chase ATM to withdraw money from your Chase account. It will save you from paying exorbitant fees. Go one step further and eschew the banks completely in favor of putting your money in a credit union. They are smaller, more personal methods of banking and they charge barely a fraction of the ridiculous fees you’ll find at the bank.

lottery scratcher13. Lottery Tickets

They say all it takes is a dollar and a dream. Well, the dream part is easy (and free) but when that dollar turns into five or ten, then that can present a considerable drain on your finances. Let’s face it; the odds of hitting it big in the lottery are slim to none. You might win a few bucks here and there depending on how much you play, but when you compare how much you contribute against how much you may have won, it usually turns out that you’re down…by a lot.

Yes, the money is supposed to go towards helping fund schools in the community and, it’s true, people win these things all the time, but the likelihood of it being you isn’t worth the money spent whether or not the earnings do provide some much needed assistance to the public school system. Best you save your dollars instead.

12. The Extended Warranty

This one is an absolute no-brainer. Do not, in any way, accept the extended warranty on any products you buy. Most of the big-box electronics and other department stores will offer an additional extended warranty to protect your purchase. It’s supposed to give you peace of mind and reassure you that when the manufacturer’s warranty runs out, you’re still covered should whatever you bought break down or stop working for whatever reason.

In reality, it’s another way to get more money out of your pocket. That’s not to say it’s a total scam, should your item stop working the store will help out. But most well made products don’t falter that quickly or easily and if you think the item has the potential for failure within a year or two of buying it, then you may want to consider skipping the transaction entirely.

11. Grocery Shopping

Shopping for food is another necessity that we all have to spend our money on. But taking a conservative and practical approach to what you place inside your shopping cart is a good way to avoid wasting your money. Take a look in your pantry right now, how many of the items on your shelves have gone past their expiration or sell-by dates? Those items are no longer fit for consumption in most cases and you’ve essentially wasted money that is going to go right into the trash when you clean out the pantry. So next time you go shopping, don’t waste money on food and other items you or you’re family are not going to eat right away or at all. You can also avoid paying full price for some products by using coupons or using credit cards that offer cash back on groceries.

10. Paper Towels

Another way you can help out your bank account and the environment at the same time is by not wasting your hard-earned money on buying rolls of paper towels. For starters, the amount of trees and water that are used in the manufacturing process of that 12 pack of rolls from the supermarket represents a significant negative impact on our natural resources. Not to mention you’re paying good money for something you’re going to throw away, when there’s a cheaper, more long-lasting alternative in washable dishtowels. Buying a pack or two of those instead will conserve precious resources and save you money in the bargain.

9. Magazine Subscriptions

Think about any major national magazine that currently exists and then hit up the Internet to see if there’s an online version. In just about every case, you’ll find a digital website that mirrors the same content you can find in a print copy. Only the website is either free or mostly free. So why are you paying good money to subscribe to these magazines when all of the articles are online already? Cancel or don’t renew your magazine subscriptions when they run out and check out the online versions instead. Whether it’s Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, or any of the many titles on newsstand shelves, you’re probably going to be able to read the same content without having to pay extra to do so.

8. Cable TV

More consumers have begun “cutting the cord” when it comes to their cable television hookups. With the introduction of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Now and so on, the need for paying a hundred bucks or more for cable television every month has dwindled considerably. All the top shows and movies are just a click away on a slew of simple and convenient devices both in the home and on the go.

So if you’re paying too much for cable or satellite TV services call up your company and tell them you’re done. You will need to sign up and subscribe to these various streaming channels, but at about $9.99 a month for most, you’re still saving money on your entertainment. Even networks like MSNBC and ESPN have online components where you can watch their shows through your computer. That way you can still stay informed and catch the big game when you want.

7. Getting Around

That car in the garage may be costing you more than you need to spend. Just about every major city and small town in the United States has some kind of reliable public transportation. Have you seen gas prices these days? When the summer hits, it gets even worse. Then there are the maintenance costs of keeping your vehicle on the road, and if you’re driving something with a few hundred thousand miles on the odometer, you know how things can break down when you least expect. So consider alternatives that will also keep more money in your pocket. Get a bike or take the bus. If you want a more personal touch, download the Uber and Lyft apps and you can ride in comfort whenever you wish, without having to drive yourself. Sometimes that can be a luxury in and of itself, particularly in rush hour traffic. Explore the options in your town and stop wasting money on that car.

6. Updated Technology

There are some of you out there who are swimming in smartphones and tablets. The folks at Apple have made a cottage industry out of people who absolutely must stay ahead of the curve whenever a new update or minor tweak has been made to their iPhone or iPad. But you don’t actually need every single iteration of the newest devices. The one you bought not two years ago is really just as good as the newest one that just hit the market. Sure there may be a few extra pixels in the camera or it might operate 0.0000014% faster than the previous model, but honestly, you can’t tell the difference. No one can, except the people at Apple who are making billions of dollars year in and year out simply by making the new phone thinner by an 1/8th of a centimeter. Don’t waste any more of your money, wait a few more years before you upgrade.

5. Eating Out

Look, we all love having a nice dinner at a beautiful restaurant owned by a celebrity chef we see on Food Network every week. It can be a wonderful evening with a loved one or friends around the table. There is nothing wrong with going out to eat every so often. But when it becomes a routine habit, then you may be throwing away some of your money needlessly. So-called gourmet foodies may not appreciate this sentiment, which I can certainly understand since eating out is tantamount to sport for most of them, but for the rest of us who can’t tell the difference between a tangerine and a tangelo that are spending large amounts of money on fine dining (and even the fast food joints) as a routine are wasting it.

Hit the supermarket and start buying food you can make at home. You don’t even need to be that much of a chef as there are millions of simple recipes to find for a delicious homemade (and cheaper) meal.

physiotherapy-595529_6404. The Gym

Come on, when was the last time you actually used that expensive membership you were all gung-ho about back in January when you were making all of those crazy New Year’s Resolutions? The majority of us who purchase those memberships are literally throwing our money away since we hardly set foot in the place after that initial few weeks of determination dies down. Those fees are renewing on your credit card over and over and you’re literally getting nothing in return for your money. If you really want to work out, do it at home. Buy a few weights if you wish, otherwise find a nice soft carpet or yoga mat and do push-ups or sit-ups with the TV on in the background. You’ll be saving hundreds.

3. Jewelry

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. That’s fine and all, and maybe having one on an engagement ring is a sign of undying love. But anything beyond that can become draining on your finances. You may argue that jewelry is a smart investment but your argument would be somewhat incorrect. Gold is a smart investment; diamonds and precious stones are not. Yes, they do appreciate but not at a very high rate and sometimes you can’t even resell your pieces for what you bought them for all the time.

Appraisers may have a very different outlook on what your jewelry is really worth. On top of the money you spent to buy the stuff, you also have to insure it if it’s well and truly valuable. That’s more money out of your pocket on a routine basis.

2. College Tuition

This one is going to sound strange, but the truth is a college degree isn’t really worth what it used to be anymore. Some fields require it and for people pursuing highly technical career paths getting that degree can certainly help when trying to land that great gig. But for the most part, employers don’t put the same fine point on educational backgrounds when deciding who they want to hire.

Experience in the field, internships, training programs, and other elements that are relevant to that industry hold more sway now with the market for jobs so competitive in today’s climate. So instead of dropping hundreds of thousands on tuition, invest that money early so it begins to grow and find your education in more pertinent ways that will actually help you get that dream job.

1 .Your Home

Don’t waste money on keeping a home you don’t need. Consider where you live at the moment, how much of it are you really using? Are there empty rooms where children once slept who are now living away from home at college or with families of their own? Do you have more storage room than you do things to store in your house? Then maybe it’s time you downsized a little and held off on paying the high electricity and heating bills for rooms that you haven’t stepped into for months.

The home is the first place to start looking for ways to stop wasting money. If you’re holding onto too much home, sell it and get a place that’s smaller and a bit more affordable. The money you could bank from the sale could be considerable and wouldn’t you rather have that instead of a drafty house for five people that no one else is living in at the moment?

Our Final Thoughts

Money is a terrible thing to waste. Hopefully you’re not guilty of spending it on many of these things but if you are, reconsider your financial habits. If not, kudos to you. Now do a personal assessment of what you are spending your money on each month and see if there are any wasteful habits of your own that you can curb. Believe me, there are more than just twenty life hacks to save you money.

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