10 Ways You’re Wasting Money

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

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!

7. Casinos

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.”
9. The 3,000 Mile Oil Change
It’s much better financially to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in regards to changing the oil in your car. I’ve been told, “yeah, the sooner your car dies from engine failure the sooner the car company can sell you another one.” I’ve personally never been big on silly conspiracy theories so why not say the oil company wants you to change your oil far too often so they can make a fortune? If the car manufacturer says change the oil every 7,500 miles, then over 100,000 miles you’ll save $800!
10. Tobacco Products
I feel for you if you’re addicted to anything, really. I do. Even though I’ve never chewed, dipped, or smoked, I understand that you can find yourself in a situation where you crave that nicotine. It’s hard to say no to a biological craving … it’s akin to dieting and being hungry. Maybe this will help: a pack-a-day smoker who spends $6/pack will spend $65,700 over 30 years … if cigarettes never increase in price! Get some help from your doctor, join a support group, do ANYTHING to save your health and your wallet!
And whatever you do, let’s all commit to ourselves and to each other to stop wasting money!
What about you? What other ways do we waste money? Leave your comments below.


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