Personally, I despise wasting money. I look for every way possible to maximize my earnings because I work hard! I don’t want my hard word to go down the drain and when I see waste, I feel robbed. How about you?
Would you believe that even with a recession going on people waste money? Work, cash, time all down the drain, in the trash. The disgusting thing about it is, it’s all unnecessary. And it’s all behavioral – as such we have no one to blame but ourselves. Are you wasting money in one of these ten ways?
10 Ways We Waste Money
1. ATM Fees
Why in the world would you continue to bank with an institution that hits you for ATM fees? Much better options include banks like PerkStreet (which pays debit card rewards), ING Direct’s Electric Orange Checking (virtually no fees whatsoever), or Ally Bank’s checking account.
Better Checking Account Options
- Perkstreet – this is a rewards checking account. You actually get cash back similar to a credit card rewards program but without the entanglements of credit.
- ING Direct Checking – ING pays a small amount of interest with their checking account and was named best “No Fees” checking account by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in 2010.
- Ally Bank – No ATM fees nationwide and interest on your balance!
- Everbank Checking – talk about a HUGE interest rate … on a checking account no less. Plus Everbank has a bonus rate for new customers. Beats a toaster hands down.
2. Credit Card Interest
Why pay those exorbitant interest rates when you can STILL find cards with lower intro rates? Check out my Credit Card Rates page and find one that fits your needs. On that page you can search for cards with rewards programs, travel cards, business cards, balance transfer cards, or cards with low intro rates.
Regardless, stop paying too much credit card interest, particularly when issuing banks are making record profits.
3. Wasted Food
Some estimates put the amount that Americans waste in food alone at over $165 BILLION per year. That’s around $550 per person per year in the USA. I don’t know about you but that sickens me, especially when I’m constantly searching for ways to save money on food (read 101 Ways To Take A Bite Our Of Your Food Budget).
Search the Internet to find creative uses for leftovers, or better yet plan meals around weekly sales so you don’t overbuy. Another great option is to pile up your plate with veggies. They’ll help you lose weight, and are often cheaper than the packaged and processed goods at your local store.
4. Lottery Tickets
In 2010 we spent $59 billion on lottery tickets in the hopes of striking it rich and alleviating all our problems. The average lottery ticket pays 47 cents on the dollar, meaning that Americans wasted around $41 billion in 2010. I’ve even heard wealthy corporate executives say they play the lottery every single week because, “someone’s gotta win.” While that’s true, and while I too have bought lotto tickets, that’s really just a waste of money.
5. Traffic Tickets
Got a lead foot? Think you can park anywhere you want because “it’s only for a minute or two”? You’re basically spoon feeding both the government and your car insurance company the money you earn. The average ticket in the US is around $175 and the insurance surcharges total an additional $300 per year for those who rack up the traffic tickets. Slow down, obey the law.
6. Unused Gift Cards
Billions are wasted each year in unused gift cards, mostly either lost, discarded, or ignored in the bottom of your sock drawer. A much better choice is to use a company like Plastic Jungle where you can sell your unwanted gift cards for cash. You’ll get between 75 and 90 percent of its value … unless you lost it!
Warren Buffett says it was while watching people throw away money at a casino that he first realized how easy it would be to get rich. Why? Because everyone walking into a casino thinks they have a shot at making a fortune … even those who say they don’t. Casinos made almost $130 BILLION last year. It would be much better to take the cash you planned to use gambling, open a Scottrade account, and invest it in a casino or a casino ETF.
8. Energy Costs
That’s calculated based on $443 billion in annual home energy costs, and the claim that consumers could cut energy costs by a third if they followed recommendations from the government-backed Energy Star program.
Energy Star’s website has a long list of suggestions to save your energy dollars:
- Changing your A/C or furnace air filter every three months at the minimum
- Use a programmable thermostat (could save you over $180 a year).
- Lowering your water heat thermostat from 140 to 120 degrees can save you more than $400 a year.
- Replacing five light bulbs with Energy Star bulbs or fixtures can save you $70 per year, and Americans waste $9 billion on energy inefficient lighting.
- You could save $40 a year by only using cold water to wash your clothes and as much as $36 per year by using the right sized pot on your stoves.
- In the average home “75% of the electricity used to power home electronics and appliances is consumed while the products are turned off.”