Looking to save up a few bucks? Sure, you could cancel Netflix for a few months and donate plasma for some extra cash, but I’ve got a better solution for you: Study your habits. You’re probably wasting money in alot of places, and chances are good that you’re not aware of all of your unnecessary spending.
Here are 10 things that you need to stop wasting money on now!
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1. Bottled Water
The average American spends an average of $100 per year on bottled water. This is for each person in the family.
So a family of five like ours is spending $500 per year on the convenience of bottled water. Bottled water costs 2500 times more than tap water, and studies show that most bottled water is just packaged tap water.
If you like the idea of drinking filtered water then opt for an inexpensive water filter pitcher or filter that goes directly onto your sink. While you need to spend a bit of money periodically on replacement filters you will be still be saving hundreds by avoiding bottled water.
By avoiding buying bottled water you are not only saving money but also saving the environment.
2. Extra Food
We are guilty of wasting a ridiculous amount of food that we are spending our hard earned money on.
Roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away, that equates to over 60 million tons and $160 billion worth of produce annually.
The main reasons for all this waste are impulse buying at the grocery store, lack of meal planning and cooking portions that are too large.
For the average family of four, this food waste amounts to over $1600 per year. Imagine if you put that $1600 into an IRA each year and by retirement age you could have amassed over $200,000, assuming an 8% return on your investment.
To stop wasting money on food, make weekly meal plans and shop from a list. Don’t shop while hungry, and don’t throw away leftovers — take them for lunch or freeze them for later meals on nights you’re too tired to cook.
3. Fancy Coffee
The average American spends about $20 per week on coffee, which amounts to $1040 per year. This seems insane when you can brew your own coffee for about a dollar per week.
Let’s say you’re spending $20 per week on coffee, which would add up to $1040 per year. If instead of buying the fancy coffee, you invested that $1040 each year from when you were 25 until your retirement at 65, you would end up with more than $170,000, assuming a 6% rate of return.
Alternatively, if you spent $1040 on coffee each year for the next 40 years, you’ll have spent $41,600 on coffee.
4. Paper Towels
Oh the quicker picker upper, how I love thee. With three kids, a dog, and my own clumsy tendencies having something easily accessible to clean up messes is a must for me.
And how great are paper towels? Just tear off what you need, clean up your mess, and toss. And I am not the only one who loves paper towels, as the average person uses 45 lbs. of paper towels per year.
The average family spends about $200 per year on paper towels. Also, paper towels are horrible for the environment. Even though some may be made with recycled materials, paper towels themselves are not recyclable. Once they are full of dirt and grease they go directly to the landfill.
Instead of choosing paper towels, opt for microfiber cloths to wipe down your kitchen and clean up spills. You can get a 24 pack of reusable microfiber cloths for less than $10, and these will last you for years.
5. Cable TV
The average cable bill is over $100. Mine is over $150, which means I am spending over $1800 per year just to watch tv.
Like most people, my family also subscribes to the alternative tv options including Netflix, Hulu, and Vudoo.
But I think that it is time to cut the cord to cable. We can’t watch all 500 channels and there is not much on there worth watching anyway.
And when it comes to catching up on your favorite show? There are so many good alternatives to cable that will cost you less and cut down on wasted commercial-viewing time.
6. Lottery Tickets
Americans spend over $80 billion on lottery games per year. Yet realistically, the odds of winning the Powerball are around 1 in 300,000,000.
While it may seem fun to take a chance and spend a few dollars with the possibility of winning big, you’re far better off investing your lottery funds in something that will actually give you a return on your investment such as stocks or bonds.
7. Bank Fees
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans pay over $17 billion a year in bank fees for insufficient funds and overdrafts. Bank fees also include ATM fees, monthly maintenance fees, and other bank costs charged back to you. Look for a bank that provides free ATM use and reimbursement if you use a foreign ATM.
Find a bank that won’t charge you a maintenance fee if your daily balance drops below a certain level.
Whatever you do, avoid overdrafting your account. You can do this by keeping extra money in the account if you have it, or by carefully tracking your balance.
8. Late Fees
Credit card late fees are usually between $15 and $35. Paying your mortgage, utilities, or rent after the deadline also typically results in late fees.
Being late with payments not only costs you money, but it could potentially hurt your credit too.
To make it even worse, credit card companies like to jack up your APR if you miss a payment, so your interest rate could go from 3% to 18%.
9. Name Brand Medications
Generic medications cost 30% to 80% less than brand-name counterparts for essentially the same drug. The FDA imposes stringent requirements on generics, including mandating that a generic medication have the same dosage, effectiveness, strength, safety, stability, and quality as brand name drugs.
There’s no reason to ever buy the name brand if a generic alternative is available.
Ask your doctor to always write prescriptions that specify that a generic medication should be substituted for any name brand products, and look around for generic meds when you purchase over-the-counter drugs.
10. Convenience Foods
Buying convenience foods also comes at a really big cost. The grocery store is completely full of pre-washed lettuce, pre-cut fruit and veggies, and other pre-prepared food products.
Unfortunately, you pay for not having to wash your own lettuce or cut up your own carrots.
In fact, if you buy 20 pre-packaged salad mixes instead of heads of lettuce you’d have to wash, you’d waste around $60 per year just on that one item alone.
As you can see, many of the items you’re wasting money on are likely costing you thousands each year.
If you pick just a few items on this list to stop wasting money on and you divert that saved cash into a retirement account or another savings account.
Stop wasting money and put that money to work helping you achieve your financial goals and building a more secure future.