We all waste money at one time or another. It’s not a good feeling to get into the habit of feeling like you’re wasting money on things you don’t really want or need when you have other financial goals to tackle. Plus, with the holidays creeping up in the next few months, expenses may increase temporarily and you want to have enough money to comfortably cover those costs.
Here are 9 things you might be wasting money on and cheaper alternatives to consider.
1. Impulse Purchases
Impulse purchases can leave you with the worst case of buyers remorse or guilt. Advertisers do a great job of marketing certain products and services to us and convincing us that we need them. If you make purchases based on emotion quite a bit, you’ve probably made a few impulse purchases. The problem with impulse buys is that you tend to regret it later because you find that you either don’t want or need the item, or you overspent and threw your budget off track as a result.
To get your impulse purchases under control, avoid stores you frequent especially if you don’t really need anything and ask yourself if the product or service will actually add value to your life and if you really need it. I like to give myself at least 24-28 hours to decide if I really need something so if I see something I like in a store, I’ll go home and think about it. Odds are, I realize I don’t really want or need to buy it and I don’t even want to head back up to the store to purchase it because it would be inconvenient.
If you have any unused magazine subscriptions, now would be the perfect time to cut them lose. There are plenty of free news sites that will post articles about everything you need to know so you don’t have to pay a subscription to magazines and other publications. Check your bank to see if you have any other monthly subscription fees flying out of your account each month.
If you use subscription box services, make sure you are getting bank for your buck and using everything you receive. If not, you might want to try going without the subscription for a few months.
How many clothing items do you have hanging up in your closet that you don’t even wear? I went on a clothes shopping ban last year for 8 months because I had this problem. I had tons of clothes in my closet, but each morning I was frustrated because I always felt like I had nothing to wear. I kept telling myself that I would wear certain outfits for certain occasions which never came even years later. The worst thing you can do to yourself and your finances when in this situation is to buy more clothes.
Even if you have a monthly clothing budget, it doesn’t mean you need to buy clothes each month. Consider making a capsule wardrobe which will allow you to rotate between outfits you love and wear often. Then you can sell the rest of the clothes you never wear. If you find that you really do need new clothes, you can always try to shop used first to see what you can find at a discounted rate. Local consignment shops and online stores like ThredUp are great options.
4. Overdraft and Late Fees
Overdraft and late fees are a pain because some fees can be as high as $35+. The good news is that these fees can be avoided. You can set up automatic payments for most of your bills and debt payments so you never have to worry about forgetting to make a payment and dealing with a late fee.
On the flip side, if you have too much money leaving your account automatically, it can be hard to manage which can lead to an overdraft. It’s important to establish a cash buffer in your checking account so your balance won’t ever get dangerously low. You can start setting aside a small amount of money like $25 every two weeks to build this up.
You can also set alerts to remind yourself when an automatic payment will be made and get into the habit of checking your bank regularly.
5. Bad Food
I’m not just talking about food that tastes bad. I’m also talking about food that is bad for you. Regularly eating food that is no good for your body not only wastes your money initially, but it can also take a toll on your health which will ultimately cost you more money not to mention your well being which is most important.
This is what keeps me from dining out so much and eating bad processed food. It’s expensive, and it’s not good for you. Instead, you can meal prep and create a grocery shopping list to make cooking at home seem more convenient. My family tries to eat most of our meals at home, and I create a detailed grocery shopping list to follow when we go to the store once every two weeks.
Some friends I have even take a few hours out of their week to prep fresh and nutritious meals so they can be all ready to go when they need them and are short on time.
6. Bottled Water
Bottled water isn’t super expensive, but the cost can add up especially if you have a dispenser in your home and purchase the gallon-sized water jugs. We used to purchase bottled water a ton because I didn’t like faucet water for obvious reasons. However, a few months ago, we decided to purchase a water filter and that solved my issue with not wanting to drink tap water because the filter cleans it.
Now, make pitchers of filtered water from our faucet each day and save by not buying any more bottles of water.
7. Lottery Tickets
Do you know anyone who blows money on lottery tickets and scratch offs? If that’s you, you might want to consider slowing down or ditching the habit even if only until the expensive holiday season is over. Buying lottery tickets can get addicting, but unless you’re winning the Powerball, you’re probably receiving a few bucks here and there and spending it on more lottery tickets which defeat the purpose.
I’m not a big coffee drinker, but even when I used to buy Starbucks coffee every now and then, I felt like I was wasting so much money even if I only bought two drinks per week. Plus, companies like Starbucks offer discounts for customers to come back in the afternoon and purchase more coffee since it seems like they thrive on money from repeat offenders.
There’s nothing wrong with having a daily coffee habit. However, to save money, you can commit to purchasing your coffee at the grocery store and preparing it at home. You can invest in a Keurig, or even pick up a basic coffeemaker from the thrift store and save so much money.
Insurance is often a necessity and requirement by law so you can’t really get rid of this expense entirely. You can however, negotiate your premiums and shop around for a better deal. When I started shopping around and comparing other auto insurance rates, I realized I was wasting a ton of money by paying my current provider at the time.
Insurance companies are all in competition with each other so you can use that to your advantage by comparing premiums and plans to see who offers they best coverage for your budget or a lower rate.
Think of How Much You Can Save
Saving is not as hard as it seems when you cut out many of these expenses to free up some of your income. It’s so easy to get caught up with life and get into the habit of spending money each day. This is why it’s important to do a regular spending audit to make sure you aren’t wasting your money in various different areas of your budget just because it’s convenient or a comfortable habit.
Are you wasting money on any of these things?
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