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10 Activities That Waste Your Money and What to Do Instead



When that paycheck hits your account, it can make you feel euphoric. Having money left over after paying bills feels even better. But spending too much on frivolous stuff doesn’t feel so great.

Too much spending is a nationwide trend, in fact. According to the 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics research on consumer spending, there was a significant increase in how much money consumers spent on food both in and out of the home. Entertainment, personal care, and apparel expenditures also rose.

While many of these costs make sense, you may actually be wasting your money on one or more activities. Click or swipe to see if any of these money-wasting habits sound familiar and learn how to build a better budget.

1. You watch too much cable

Cable and satellite television have been the norm for so long that it’s difficult to imagine not having these services. Knowing that they had a captive audience, these companies could essentially charge what they liked.

However, that’s no longer true thanks to a wide array of content streaming services and devices that drastically lower cost while increasing variety. Thanks to new types of antennas, you can even continue to enjoy local channels and sports that might have kept you attached to the cord. From Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ to Roku, Fire Sticks, Sling and more, you can save hundreds of dollars per year. You just need to cut that cord.

2. Spending too much at Starbucks

The average cost for a Starbucks beverage is about $4.50. If you pick one up every day on your way in to work, then multiply that by five. That’s $22.50 per week. That’s not even accounting for a seven-day-a-week habit, those breakfast sandwiches, or a drink for a colleague.

Now project that $22.50 across an entire year. That totals $1,170, just on coffee. If you don’t know why you can’t build up a savings account, it could be because you are drinking it. Instead, make your coffee at home (you can even buy a hand-held milk frother on Amazon for under $10 and pick up some low-cost flavor add-ins) and bank that money you would’ve spent.

3. Ordering take-out

After a long day at work, it’s easy to understand why you are not enthused about whipping up a meal and doing all those dishes. Whether it’s drive-thrus on the way home, pizza on speed dial, or the GrubHub app enticing you to eat out, these food costs quickly skyrocket. On top of the food, there may be service fees and tips.

It can be challenging to save money this way when you work long hours and have multiple places to be, but you can find some solutions. Tally up what you spend and compare that to meal subscription boxes. Or go the next step and do grocery delivery services and weekend meal prepping for the week. You may find that you can eat healthier meals while still spending less.

4. Buying products just to buy them not actually use them

Those who shop regularly will tell you that they often use shopping as therapy. They’re not actually buying essentials. That could explain why so many people end up stuffing rooms and closets with things they don’t use or even paying for storage units to house the rest. Shopping can become an addiction that costs you in more ways than one.

Become more mindful about shopping and commit to buying only what you need, rather than what’s on sale that week. Avoid temptation by steering clear of the mall and outlets as well as shopping apps or sites.

5. Picking up more from the grocery store than you can use before it goes bad

Even with the best intentions to use all that produce to make a salad or finish all those bananas, food goes bad before it’s consumed. The U.S. is one of the top five countries when it comes to food waste.

Whether you’re in a rush to get the grocery shopping done or doing it while hungry, it can be easy to overbuy during this weekly errand. Instead, mindfully plan your weekly menus and create a shopping list based on that. Ordering groceries online can help you stick to the basics. Plan your meals so that you only buy the specific ingredients you need.

6. Not using subscriptions or memberships you pay for

There’s the gym you don’t go to, the magazines you don’t read, and the apps you don’t use. They may only cost a few dollars a month, but the reality is that it’s still wasted money because you aren’t using them. With auto-pay, it’s easy to forget you have them.

Go through your bank or credit card statement and make a note of all the memberships. Take the time to call and cancel each one. If you want some assistance, apps like Trim can find all these subscriptions and help you cut the costs.

7. Buying too many clothes

Most likely, you can get by on a fraction of your current wardrobe. Most of the time, all those clothes, shoes and accessories are gathering dust, especially if you follow fashion trends and the majority of your closet becomes “so last season.”

Get on Poshmark, LetGo, Mercari, and OfferUp to start simplifying your closet. Then only buy clothes when you actually need them because of wear and tear or a special occasion.

8. Getting a new car every two years

Whether it is leasing or buying a car, doing so every couple of years wastes a considerable amount of money. Driving a car off the lot regularly leads to significant depreciation that you can’t recover. Research notes that cars may lose more than ten percent of their value during the first month after purchase and then more than 20 percent after the first 12 months of ownership. Additionally, there is money wasted on licensing, financing, and more.

9. Buying the latest gadgets

Every year, companies come up with some new product or an upgrade to a device you already own. It doesn’t help that your friends are sharing pictures of themselves with the latest and greatest gadgets.

If your gadget works, then you don’t need the next version. It’s money that you would only be spending to keep up with others. The only thing you need to impress is your savings, retirement, and emergency fund accounts. Make a change only when and if it breaks.

10. You don’t shop around for better rates on services

Our busy lives distract us from many things, including what we are paying for services such as insurance, mobile phones, house cleaning, and the Internet. You may not even know if those service providers recently raised rates.

Not shopping around for the best deals at least once a year can mean losing money. Although it may take time to do the research by calling around and using online rate comparison engines, the savings make the effort worth it.

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