15 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Money On

By Sara


Last Updated: August 28, 2023


It's alarmingly easy to fall into spending traps in our everyday lives.

Whether it's that extra cup of coffee from our favorite barista, a subscription service we've forgotten we even had, or a brand-name product when a generic one would suffice, small expenditures can add up fast.

These habits might seem trivial, but they can significantly drain our finances over time.

We’ve all heard the advice to make our coffee at home to save money, but there are so many other places where you may be wasting money without even realizing it.

This article will shed light on common examples of money wasted and explore some creative and unexpected areas where you might be losing your hard-earned dollars. 

Keep reading as we delve into 15 things you need to stop wasting money on and discover alternative solutions that could lead to substantial savings.

From unused subscriptions to impulsive shopping, we'll cover it all, and by the end, you may find yourself looking at your spending in a whole new light!



What are things we waste money on?

Here are the most common but often overlooked areas where most people waste money. 

Unused Subscriptions and Membership

On average, a person will spend $300 a year on unused subscriptions.

This may not seem like a big deal, but that $300 could have been used when you needed new tires.

Find a system where you keep track of your memberships and regularly review what you spend money on. Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions. You can always re-subscribe to that subscription if you need to. 


Expensive Gym Memberships

Premium gym memberships can cost $800 a year.

A gym membership is even worse because most people don’t use it enough to lower their cost per visit. Consider joining a cheaper, local gym or find ways to work out at home. Your work may even supply you with a gym membership. 


Brand-name Products

Many people believe that brand-name products are better quality, which isn’t necessarily true.

Brand-name products also come with a higher price tag of about 20-50% more than a generic brand. Usually, the quality difference is negligible, so buy generic to save money. 


Buying Lunch Every Day

We are all busy, and it’s easier to buy lunch out or at your work cafeteria, but this convenience comes at a cost.

Eating out just for lunch daily can cost $2,000 a year! Cook and pack meals in advance to help you avoid these daily costs.

If you want to take it to the next level, you can cook one of our weekly budget recipes, like this Savory Chicken Thigh Stew, to save even more. 


Excessive or Impulsive Shopping

While this may seem vague, this is a common way people waste money.

Picking up something you weren’t planning to buy at the grocery store may seem harmless, but cutting this habit by creating a shopping list and sticking to it can save you hundreds of dollars a month. 



What is the fastest way to waste money?

It’s easy to waste money if you leave your spending unchecked. The two quickest ways to waste money are gambling or buying lottery tickets and paying unnecessary bank fees. 


Gambling and Lottery Tickets

This habit of gambling or picking up a lottery ticket (or two) at the gas station can be a habit that will quickly drain savings. These things are highly addictive and can make you think you are earning money on some wins, but overall, you are losing money.

Consider investing in stocks as an outlet. There is always risk in investing, but there is a higher likelihood of gains.


Bank Fees

Never pay bank fees.

This is one of the easiest and dumbest ways to waste money. Overdraft fees can quickly add up. If you are in a pinch and cannot avoid a bank fee, doing this one time off is okay, but it becomes a money waster when it’s always occurring.

Choose a bank with fewer fees or plan your next ATM withdrawal to avoid them. 



How do I know if I'm wasting money?

There are two quick ways to know if you are wasting money: Ignoring statements and bills and buying extended warranties. 

If you ignore your monthly statements or bills, you may think you are spending money on things you shouldn’t.

Even if you don’t have this feeling, ignoring these statements and bills can lead to unnoticed wasted money. Opening up a monthly credit card bill can be scary, but this is the first step to seeing your true spending habits.

Make sure you regularly review statements to catch unnecessary spending. This habit can lead to better spending decisions. 

Another way to quickly know if you are wasting money is if you buy extended warranties on electronics. This purchase may have good intentions, but warranties are rarely used. 

Warranties can cost up to 20% of the price. Instead of this, see what standard warranties are included and if your credit card has additional warranties you can use for free. Taking good care of your items can also go a long way.  



Waste of money examples

Here are some more examples of things that waste money. 

Purchasing a New Car

Cars are an expensive purchase. If you need a new car, buying a brand new car can be a big waste. New cars depreciate 20% in the first year. Instead, consider buying a certified pre-owned vehicle. They will depreciate less quickly and will be cheaper. 

That said, with the car market the way it is, it may be hard to find a pre-owned vehicle, and prices may be jacked up due to higher demand. The point here is - do your research and don't just automatically aim for brand new!


Overusing Utilities

Water and electric utility costs are hard to avoid, but many people waste money by not fixing a leak or leaving the lights on.

This can add $100-$200 a year. Fix any leaks to avoid extra water consumption, and be mindful of your utility usage. 


Upgrading Gadgets

Buying the newest or greatest tech gadget can be exciting, especially if you’ve had an older model.

These upgrades can be great! However, if you are constantly upgrading, you are wasting your money. New gadgets year after year can be expensive. Keep your gadgets longer to get the most out of them, and only upgrade when necessary. 


Luxury Items

With social media, it may seem like everyone has luxury items, and it can be hard to stay away from these things.

However, luxury items have a huge markup. Consider buying quality items that will last you longer over brand prestige. 


Buying Books

Reading is great. You can learn so much and escape reality. However, buying your books new can be a huge waste of money. Books can cost anywhere from $10-$30. Instead, use your local library or buy from local second-hand bookstores to save money


Trendy Diet Products

There is always an ad for the newest and greatest thing to make you healthy and lose weight.

So many of these products are unnecessary and expensive. Instead, focus on eating a balanced diet made of whole foods and exercise. 



Stop Wasting Money! Final Thoughts 

Navigating the financial landscape of everyday life can be a minefield of unnecessary expenses.

From the typical culprits like eating out too frequently to more obscure and creative examples like mismanaging energy consumption at home, how we might inadvertently waste money is vast and varied.

But now, armed with a greater understanding of these common money-wasting pitfalls and equipped with alternative solutions, you are ready to take control of your spending habits.

By applying these insights, you can avoid the fastest ways to waste money and actively redirect those funds towards more meaningful purposes.

Whether it's building an emergency fund, contributing to a retirement plan, or simply enjoying a more intentional and fulfilling lifestyle, the savings can make a real difference.

Remember, financial well-being isn't just about cutting costs; it's about making conscious decisions that align with your values and long-term goals.

You take a critical step toward financial empowerment by identifying and eliminating these 15 areas of wasteful spending. The power to change your financial future starts today and begins with a closer look at where your money is going. Take charge, and embrace the freedom that comes with mindful spending.

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash


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