Saving money for a rainy day is tough, especially when you get used to living a certain lifestyle. Sometimes, it feels difficult to recognize when we are spending too much money on certain things in our day-to-day lives. Thankfully, making a few small changes in life can add up to saving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every year. Here are 50 money-wasting habits that you might have without even realizing it.
50. Having Too Many Monthly Subscriptions
With subscription services like Netflix costing only $10 per month, it feels too easy to keep saying “yes” to every other streaming or delivery service that you could possibly want. However, those prices can seriously add up. Try to re-evaluate which monthly subscription services you actually use the most, and which ones can go.For example, if you are done watching all of the shows you want to see on Netflix, you could always pause your membership and come back later when you are ready to use it again. Netflix will save all of your account settings for you.
49. Dry Cleaning Too Many Things
Some people choose to get their entire wardrobe dry cleaned, or at least the clothes they wear to work. Some people think that it is easier to let the professionals handle it. However, not everything has to be dry cleaned. Check the label of your clothes. The only garments that actually need to be dry cleaned will say “dry clean only”. Otherwise, there is usually instructions about how to clean it at home. Usually, you can hand wash delicate items in a tub of water and some detergent, or buy zip-up laundry bags to separate your special items. If you want to be extra careful, get some perfume and dye-free detergent (sometimes called “baby detergent”).
48. Getting Traffic and Parking Tickets
If you live in a city, finding street parking can sometimes be a nightmare, and you decided to roll the dice to see if you can get away with parking in an illegal spot, or letting the meter run of time. Unpaid parking tickets tend to pile up for some people and accumulate to hundreds of dollars. Instead of letting this go, consider finding a parking garage that offers monthly passes, or leave your house early so that you can find a good parking space that will not get you into trouble. When avoiding traffic tickets, just try to use common sense. Don’t drive over the speed limit, and don’t drive under the influence if you want to avoid getting pulled over.
47. Buying Last-Minute Holiday Gifts
There can be some great sales during the holiday season, but a lot of stores will over-charge on items around Christmas time, because they know everyone needs to snag some last-minute gifts. You can save a lot more money by finding the best sales and clearance items all year long, and hiding those gifts for your friends and family in a closet.
The best sales of the holiday season are on Black Friday, so if you are going to shop during the holidays at all, it’s best to get out there the day after Thanksgiving To compare the best Black Friday deals all in one place, check out BestBlackFriday, and for weekly sales and coupon deals on just about everything, check out TheKrazyCouponLady.
46. Falling For Those Sneaky One-Month Free Trials
Companies that offer a month-month free trial are banking on the fact that a lot of people will forget to cancel their subscription, and they will be charged the full price the next month. If you ever sign up for a free trial like this, write yourself a sticky note, or create an alarm in your cell phone. Sometimes, you can even cancel a subscription right after you sign up, and it will automatically allow you to have the remainder of the month for free without charging you money.
45. Over-Paying For Car Insurance
Did you know that you can customize the amount of car insurance coverage you pay for? When you first sign up for car insurance, the provider may charge you the highest amount, but you really only have to pay your state’s minimum requirements. Go on your online portal, and check out everything you are paying for, and adjust according to your own needs. You should also try to shop around and get quotes from other car insurance companies, like Clearcover
44. Ignoring Your Student Loans
If you are paying off student loans, don’t forget to deduct the interest you paid on your taxes. You may also have the option to refinance your loans, or work on an income-based repayment program with your lender. If you are not sure if you can be saving money on your monthly payments, don’t be afraid to call up your loan company and have a conversation with someone in customer service. They will be happy to know that you are willing to work with a payment plan, instead of ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. You may be surprised at how flexible they can be.
43. Buying All Name Brand Items
Some people swear that expensive name-brand items are far superior to the store brands, but most store brand items actually have the exact same ingredients. They often taste or work the same, as well. In most grocery stores, it is tricky to find the cheaper brands, because they always put the most expensive products at eye-level. Next time you go shopping, look down on the bottom shelf, because that is usually where the cheapest store brands are hiding.
42. Forgetting About The Dollar Store
If you are trying to save money, don’t forget to check out your local dollar store. If you shop at Target or Walmart on a regular basis, you may be under the impression that you are getting a great deal on cleaning supplies and other household items. Even if you are paying $1.50 or $2.00 for an item on Walmart, it only makes sense to buy the same item for $1, because that spare change adds up over time. If you aren’t doing it already, visit your nearest Dollar Tree, where every single item in the store is just $1.
41. Paying ATM Withdrawal Fees
If you are in the habit of withdrawing cash from a random ATM, you are most likely paying $5 in fees every time you take money out. Try to plan your your weekly budget of the cash you will need, instead, and go to your bank’s ATM directly, where you can make a withdrawal for free. Most stores will also allow you to make a purchase on your debit card and get cash back for free, as well.
40. Shopping at Big Box Stores
There is a common misconception that buying in bulk from wholesale stores means that you are saving money every time, but the reality is that not everything from big box stores like Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s are cheaper than your local grocery stores. Do a little bit of research on your commonly used items before you splurge on a membership and a cart full of jumbo-sized items. Also try to avoid buying too much food that will go bad before you can use it all.
39. Taking Trendy Exercise Classes
Trendy exercise classes like yoga, spin, ballet barre, and martial arts are more popular now than they ever have been before. At a private studio, these classes are typically $20 to $30 each, so they can add up to over $100 a month if you make it a regular habit. If you really love it, but you want to save money, try to find a gym membership that offers free exercise classes as part of its total package. This is usually offered at the upscale gyms, so they usually also include the added perks of a spa, pool, and sauna.
38. Paying For Unnecessary Vehicle Maintenance
Whenever you get an oil change, the mechanics will always leave a sticker on your car telling you when to come in for your next service. If your car takes fully synthetic oil, you only need to get it changed every 10,000 miles, but your mechanic will recommend 2,000 to 5,000 miles. Instead of listening to the sticker, check your oil periodically, or wait for the oil light to come on. You should also check your tires to see if they actually need to be changed before you run out to get a new set once a year or every two years.
If you find out that you have to get a major repair done on your car, but you can still drive it temporarily, it is okay to hold off until you call to other mechanics. Ask them for a quote to get the job done, and if you can find a cheaper price, take it somewhere else, or ask a mechanic if they will match a price.
37. Shopping at Whole Foods (And Other Fancy Grocery Stores)
Everyone has heard the joke that the Whole Foods grocery store should be called “Whole Paycheck”, because their food is so expensive compared to almost everywhere else. And yet so many people continue shopping there despite knowing that they are wasting money.
There is a common misconception that in order to eat healthy, you have to pay a lot of money, but there are tons of ways to save and still stick to your diet. Check your local area for a farmer’s market that sells “seconds”. These are fruits, vegetables, and flowers that may look less-than-perfect, but they are sold at discount prices. They are also usually locally grown and organic. Aldi’s also has a section of organic and gluten free foods that are a fraction of what they charge at Whole Foods.
36. Paying a Fortune On Your Cell Phone Bill
Some people pay as much as $100 a month for their cell phone bill, and they even go over their limit with their data plans. This is totally unnecessary, and all it takes is doing a little bit of research. Check out the pay-as-you-go plans from companies like Tracfone and Republic Wireless. They offer plans starting at just $10 a month for talk, text, and data. You can put these plans on any phone you want, and save your existing phone number, too. Your friends will never know the difference, and you can pocket the savings.
35. Eating Too Much Meat
If you cook at home on a regular basis, you already know that meat can be one of the most expensive things to buy at the grocery store. If you want to save money on meat, try to put smaller portions into your meals, and freeze the rest to use another day. Adding more vegan and vegetarian recipes into your life, is both healthy and helps save money. Last but not least, check for meat wholesalers in your local area, because you can save a huge amount of money from buying directly from them, instead of the grocery store.
34. Online Shopping Without Looking For Discounts
Before you buy something online or pay full price for shipping, do a quick Google search for coupon codes, or use add-ons like the Honey for Google Chrome. This will automatically find savings for you without any extra effort. Also take your time to compare your price to other websites like eBay to see if you are really getting the best deal.
33. Paying For Clothing at Full Price
If you love to go clothes shopping, you might feel tempted to buy an item that you love as you see it. Keep in mind that nearly every store keeps multiples in stock, and they will eventually have a sale. If you are afraid that it might be gone later, take a picture of the tag, so that you have the garment information. This way, if it really does sell out, you can find that exact piece of clothing later. Ask a store employee if they know when the next sale will be, and come back another day. If they sell out of the item or size you are looking for, you may be able to have it shipped to your house from another location.
32. Paying For Professional Car Washes and Detailing Services
Keeping your car clean is a chore, which is why a lot of people will pay for someone else to tidy up their vehicles for them. On average, a car wash may cost $20 after tip, and a professional detailing service can be over $100. On the flip side, a self-service car wash is usually under $5, but you have to do the labor. Consider also taking a vacuum into your garage to clean the inside of your car. This way, you can take your time cleaning at your own pace, instead of fighting against the clock.
31. Paying Full Price For Movie Tickets
Going to the movies has become extremely expensive, with one ticket averaging $10 to $15 each. Most movie theaters have a discount night on either Tuesday or Wednesday, because it is their slowest business day, and they are trying to attract people to come to the theater. These tickets cost $5 to $7, so you are paying half the normal ticket price. Popcorn and other snacks are also discounted in these days, or sneak in some cheap snacks in your pocket or purse.
30. Buying The Newest Tech
Some people are hardcore Apple fans, and they just have to stand in line to get their newest gadget right away. At this point, we all know that every single tech company is going to come out with a new version next year, and last year’s model will be hundreds of dollars cheaper. If you are trying to save money, hold on to your old tech for a little while until the price drops on the thing you want.
29. Boredom-Induced Shopping
Just about everyone has made a questionable purchase at the mall or while shopping online simply because they were bored. Try to hold back the urge from making spur-of-the-moment purchases, and don’t let money burn a hole in your pocket. It helps to make a list of things you really, truly want. If you see something you like, add it to an Amazon wish list, and give yourself 24 to 48 hours before you buy it. You might decided that you don’t want that item as much as you thought you did.
28. Buying Pre-Sliced Produce
If you are trying to eat healthy food, you may have fallen into the habit of buying trays of fruit and vegetables that are pre-cut for you, or prepped salads. Yes, this makes it easier to eat the right foods, but you can save a significant amount of money by purchasing the produce separately and taking the time to wash, peel, and cut all of it yourself.
27. Trying To Keep Up With The Newest Trends
Envy is a wicked beast, and almost everyone is guilty of eyeing up what their friends and neighbors have in order to compare it to themselves. With Instagram and Facebook, comparing ourselves to others is something we almost cannot avoid. This idea of “Keeping Up With the Joneses” can waste a lot of money for the sake of appearances. Before you spend money on something, ask yourself what your motivation actually is, and if you actually need it. If you are only buying something to impress your friends, it’s probably a good idea to skip it and save the money, instead.
26. Paying For Hidden Airline Fees
Some airlines will seem cheap for a ticket, until you realize that they charge an arm and a leg for baggage fees, snacks, and so much more. Before you go on your next trip, double check all of your airline’s fees and make sure you come prepared to avoid them. You may actually find that a “discounted” ticket is actually more expensive than a competing airline.
25. Wasting Your Amazon Prime Subscription
For some people, the mere suggestion of giving up their Amazon Prime subscription is blasphemy. The service really does give you a lot, but not everyone actually fully utilizes the service. You pay roughly $100 per year for free shipping, but if you go over the minimum threshold of $25, you get free shipping on Amazon, anyway. Go through your purchase history on Amazon Prime to see if you are actually using the service to the fullest extent. If not, cancel it to see if you can live without it.
If you want to keep Amazon Prime, or if you have already paid for your year up-front, you should check out all of the other perks that come with your membership, like Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Video, and so much more.
24. Drinking At The Bar Every Weekend
Everyone knows that going out for drinks at a bar or a brewery can cost 4 or 5 times more than it does if you drink at home, but so many people choose to pay the price, since it may be their only chance to socialize with their friends. Suggest to your friends that you go somewhere that is “BYOB” or “Bring Your Own Beer”, or spend a night at your house watching a movie and having some home made cocktails.
And, of course, drinking in general is an expensive habit. If you drink more than once a week, maybe you should consider cutting back if you want to save money.
23. Buying In-Game Items
If you love games like Pokemon Go and Fortnight, the temptation to pay real money for digital in-game items can be really addicting. If you are one of these people, try to take a deep breath and remember that it’s just a game. Sometimes, it helps to disconnect your credit card. Consider giving yourself a weekly or monthly budget with an iTunes or Google Play Store gift card, instead.
22. Forgetting About Airline Miles and Award Points
If you have a credit card that does not earn airline miles or award points, you are seriously missing out on a golden opportunity. A lot of credit cards have signup bonuses of 50,000 points or more, which can equate to a free international airline ticket. If you plan to make a big purchase sometime soon, you might as well get an airline points card, and then pay off your balance right away.
21. Over-Spending On Gasoline
The GasBuddy app will tell you where to find the cheapest gas in your area. More often than not, the cheapest place to buy gas will be a big-box store like BJ’s, Sam’s Club, or Costco. You don’t even need to have a membership to get gas there. Also consider trading in your current car for one that is more fuel efficient, like a hybrid. While they may not be the sexiest cars in the world, a Toyota Prius can get roughly 50 MPG, and people who learn to hack their Prius to the fullest extent can even get 60 to 80 MPG.
20. Paying Late Fees
If you are a really busy person, you might have been late paying one of your bills simply because you forgot to pay them on time. Late fees are usually around $25. If it was your first offense, you can call and ask if they will remove the fee, but if you do this every month, you will be forced to pay the fee no matter what. To avoid missing your bills, set up alarms on your phone, or create a spreadsheet on your computer that lays out when you need to pay your bills. You can also arrange for automatic payment to be taken out of your bank account.
19. Paying For A Cable TV Package
If you haven’t joined the “cord cutter” bandwagon yet, it may be time to start. With so many things to watch on YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu, you don’t even really need a regular cable package anymore. There are also streaming options like YouTube TV and Hulu TV that may be cheaper than your local provider. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription already, you even get to watch live streams of NFL games for free as part of your package deal.
18. Wasting Your Gym Membership
You would be shocked at just how many people sign up for a gym membership in January, and they never bother to cancel it if they stop going to work out. The mindset of most people is that they will eventually find the motivation to actually use it, or they simply do not want to go through the hassle of the cancelation process.
Remember that you can never form positive exercise habits if you don’t enjoy the activity. So, if you signed up for a gym that you don’t feel comfortable going to, cancel the membership, and find some other form of exercise that free, like hiking or running.
17. Buying Too Many Books and e-Books
If you love to read, you might love to indulge in a weekly trip to Barnes and Noble, and your Amazon wishlist is probably huge. Most books are only read once, and they sit on a bookshelf, or eventually get donated to the thrift store. Instead of paying full price for a book, you can check your local Goodwill, where paperbacks are typically only 25 cents each. The library also usually has multiple copies of best sellers, and they even offer free e-books and audio books.
16. Buying Bottled Water
For a lot of people, grabbing a bottle of water before you go to the gym or work becomes a habit. Disposing of so many plastic bottles is not good for the planet, and it also wastes a few extra dollars a week. You may want to invest in a Brita water filter and a nice reusable bottle, instead. If you find a good sale, you can find a Brita water pitcher for around $15. If it stops you from buying cases of water bottles every week, it will pay itself off in about a month.
15. Buying Lottery Tickets
The idea of winning the lottery and becoming a millionaire overnight can be incredibly tempting, but let’s be honest- Your chances of winning the jackpot is slim-to-none. Even if you are only spending a couple dollars at a time, this habit adds up. Skip your lottery tickets from now on, and try to use that money to pay off debt or invest in stocks, instead.
Everyone knows that smoking is awful for your health, and it is a really expensive habit. In fact, if you are a smoker, you might be rolling your eyes. But one pack of cigarettes costs anywhere from $5 to $14 in the United States, depending on where you live. If we average that to $10 a day on cigarettes 365 days a year, that’s $3,650. That’s just silly. If you are a smoker, try to cut back, switch to a vape, or quit cold turkey.
13. Buying Over-The-Counter Magazines
Buying a magazine over the counter usually costs anywhere from $5 to $8 per issue, but you can buy an entire year for around $20. By signing up for a subscription that comes to your door, you save tons of money. You can also download magazine apps for your iPad or Kindle, where the digital version is usually a lot less expensive than paper. Local libraries and universities will also have magazines for free, so you can sit down and browse as many as you want. These libraries usually have copy machines, or you can take a photo on your phone of a recipe or information you want to use later.
12. Buying Travel Souvenirs
Some people have to buy souvenirs when they travel, because they make it a tradition. Maybe it’s a little shot glass, magnet, or post card. While these things can be inexpensive, they are not exactly adding any value to your life. Usually, when you move to a new house or apartment, those souvenirs are some of the first things to get donated to the thrift store. Try to take more photographs and videos of your trip instead, and those can serve as your memories.
11. Drinking Soda
Everyone knows that drinking soda and energy drinks are really unhealthy, and yet it is a very hard habit to break. It can also add unnecessary expense to your grocery budget. If you drink bubbly flavored beverages, try to cut back by drinking more water, instead. If you are at a restaurant, choosing water over a soda will save around $2 every time. If you really, really must drink your fizzy stuff at home, trying to buy them in bulk so that you are at least saving money.
10. Paying For All Of Your Home Repairs
For anyone who is not handy at fixing things, they might call in someone to help them for every little problem, because they don’t trust themselves. Even if DIY freaks you out, try to find some YouTube videos of people explaining how to do the repair. You may be surprised to see just how easy some things are to fix. But save the major jobs like plumbing and roofing to the professionals.
If you don’t own any of your own tools, check out Harbor Freight. They sell some of the cheapest tools around, and they also have a lot of coupons in weekly circulars, and on their website.
9. Using Too Much Shampoo and Conditioner
Did you know that just about everyone shampoos their hair too much? The bottle even says “wash, rinse, repeat”, as if you are supposed to wash your hair twice per shower, but this is clearly just a way to get you to use more product. Too much washing can dry out your scalp, and cause dandruff. Try wearing a shower cap, or keeping your hair out of the water and just clean your body every-other-day. It is also very easy to combine sales and coupons for shampoo at stores like Rite Aid and CVS, so keep an eye out for a good deal.
8. Paying For Food Delivery Services
If you have a busy lifestyle, you might order delivery from your local restaurant, or indulge in apps like Grubhub or Postmates. Every time you get a meal delivered, it costs an additional $5 to $10 for the service fee and tip, plus they usually expect you to buy a certain dollar amount of food before they will deliver to you.
Instead of using delivery services, try to incorporate your takeout into your current schedule. Most restaurants will even have your food ready at a certain time. For example, call the restaurant to order food when you are about to get into your car and commute home, and time it so that you can simply pick up your food at go.
7. Eating Out Too Often
Speaking of ordering food, you may be guilty of eating out far too much. Apparently, Millennials go out to eat far more than any other generation. If you are not a good cook, start out slow with meals you know that you can handle, like pasta. YouTube is full of easy recipes that you can make for under $5. Once you learn how to be a good cook, the process of making your own food is really satisfying, and it can even become a stress reliever at the end of the day, instead of a chore. Plus, it saves you a ton of money.
6. Accuring Overdraft Fees
Most banks charge a $30 overdraft fee every time you accidently spend too much in your bank account. A lot of people are too embarrassed to admit that they have made this mistake, but trust me- millions of people have done it. Call your bank and ask if you can opt out of overdraft. This will prevent you from making a purchase at the store if you ran out of money. Also make sure you download your bank’s app so that you can periodically check your balance throughout the day.
5. Drinking Fancy Coffee
It might be tempting to spend $5 on a cup of Starbucks or a local cafe, because it tastes so delicious. If you are freelance, or a college student, you might also use a cafe as a place to work on your laptop. However, habit of drinking coffee out of the house seriously adds up over time. Just about every major coffee brand sells bags of coffee and K-cups, so you can make them at home for less than $1 per cup. Instead of working in a cafe, consider going to your local library, instead.
4. Accumulating Credit Card Interest
It can be painful to look at, but the majority of our monthly payments on a credit card is actually going towards the interest, and not the principle balance. If at all possible, consider doing a balance transfer from a high interest credit card to one that is offering a 0% interest for the first year. Also make a game plan about how you are going to pay more than the minimum amount due. If you save money in one of the many other areas on this list, you should be able to put those extra dollars towards paying down your debt!
3. Wasting Money On Electricity
If you want to save money on electricity, switch out your old light bulbs for LED’s. They are brighter and cheaper, overall. Try to also find a power strip where you can turn your items on and off when you are not using them. There are lots of solar-power gadgets out there too, and they can save a little bit of money over the course of time. If you can, you should charge your laptop and phone in your car or at work, too.
If your heat runs on electricity, start blocking the draft on your windows by covering them in plastic, and using fabric to block the draft, as well. Try turning down the heat when you are out of the house, and turn it back up when you get home.
2. Donating Valuable Things To A Thrift Store
Donating to a good cause is great, but a lot of thrift stores are selling for-profit, and they only give a small portion of their proceeds to charity. If you have an item that is still brand new with tags, don’t just donate it to the thrift store right away. Try to set up an ebay or Poshmark account to sell your old things. This way, you will at least get some of your money back.
1. Getting Manicures and Pedicures
Getting a manicure or pedicure costs an average of $20 after tip, just to have your nails look good. If you work in a professional environment where you feel as if you need to get your nails done to keep up appearances, that’s one thing, but most women get manicures simply because they enjoy it. If you want to save money, start doing your nails at home with a bottle of nail polish, or get reusable press-on gel nails for around $8. Reserve professional nail treatments for special occasions.