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It is so easy to waste money even when you think you’re frugal. These 29 ways you’re wasting money prove that. If you’re doing any of these, you are keeping yourself broke!
Do you often waste money? Yeah, I didn’t think I did either until I started taking a good look around. It is so easy to spend money but it is even easier to waste money when we don’t really see something as a waste of money.
Dave Ramsey (Amazon) often says that “finances are 80% habit” and that has never been more true when you’re trying to find ways you’re wasting money. We all fall into habits that are wastes of money but even worse, we also fall into the habit of ignoring the fact that we’re wasting money.
Easy Ways to Waste Money Without Knowing It
And let’s be honest, wasting money is the reason that the vast majority of us never get ahead financially. It might only seem like nickels and dimes but nickels and dimes over the course of our adult life add up to big dollars and bills.
How Am I Wasting Money Without Knowing It?
With so many people currently living paycheck to paycheck (Six Dollar Family) or who are trying to survive with no income (Six Dollar Family), knowing those tiny, little ways that you’re wasting money can make a huge difference in your budget.
In fact, depending on how much money is actually being wasted, you may find your finances easing up once you put a stop to the waste.
It really can be surprising just how much wasting money can hurt your finances and how blind we can be to that waste.
How to Stop Wasting Money
1. Leaving Obscure Lights On
We all know leaving lights on is a waste of money and while we might try to turn them off, it always seems that there are one or two obscure lights that inevitably get left on.
In my house it’s the pantry light.
While it may only be one light, it is a waste of money in both electricity and in the cost of light bulbs. If you’re having trouble remembering to shut these lights off, consider putting them on a timer (Amazon) or turning them into smart lights (Six Dollar Family) that are easier to remember to shut off.
2. Not Cleaning Your Own Home
Look, I get it. You are just as busy as I am some days and most days – at least for me – it can be hard to find the time to fully clean your house.
But paying someone else to do it is a waste of money pure and simple. This is especially true if you have kids or teens who can help.
Grab a bucket, grab a rag, make a DIY cleaning recipe (Six Dollar Family)and stash the money you would have spent in your savings account.
3. Throwing Away Meat
Meat and produce are two of the biggest grocery costs hands down. And if you’re like I used to be, you have a habit of sticking meat in the fridge – and then forgetting about it only to remember it a week later after it’s long spoiled.
If you are making this same mistake, decide right now that you will put all meat in the freezer where it belongs as soon as you bring it home and that you will cook what you thaw.
Because to do otherwise is to quite literally throw money in the trash can along with the food you’re wasting.
4. Not Saving Leftovers
In my own home, we rarely have leftovers. Because Steve is a truck driver (Six Dollar Family), anything left over from dinner gets vacuum sealed and frozen for him to take on the truck, but for most families dinner means leftovers.
And if you’re not saving them, again, you’re throwing out money.
Instead, save them in airtight food storage containers (Amazon) and have them for lunch the next day.
5. Paying Bills Late
Do you pay your bills on time? If not, chances are you’re wsting money by paying late fees every month. This doesn’t just apply to credit cards, but also your regular utilities.
Even if you’re only paying $1 a month per bill in late fees, that is $12.00 each per year and will really add up. Instead, pay your bills on time each month, even if that means splitting the payments up weekly to help you do so.
6. Having Multiple Streaming Services
How many streaming services do you pay for? If you’re like most families, the answer is “more than two.”
Why? Do you watch them all? Probably not. Why? This especially doesn’t make sense when you realize that most people signed up for streaming initially to avoid high cost cable bills. But in the end, having too many will end up costing you just as much, if not more, than cable.
And to pay for things you’re not watching is a great way to waste money. Instead, knock it down to one or two that you will actually watch and save the rest of your money.
7. High Bank Fees
Your bank is a company and this means that they are only out for their best interest. And trust me, it is in their best interest to charge you as many fees as possible. Monthly charges, ATM fees, overdraft fees and more can all do pretty serious damage to your budget.
But not all banks do this and if you are currently banking with one that does, I highly suggest that you switch banks to one that offers fee free checking accounts (Qapital).
Your savings account will thank you.
8. Using Too Much Product
My kids are especially fantastic at this one and I’m sure yours are too. But to be fair, I am sure that you and I are just as fantastic at it too.
When you do laundry, cook or use anything else in your home, make sure you’re not using far more than you should be. In fact, with most things – such as cleaners or detergent – you can use less than they recommend because they’re so strong.
But if you’re using more than you need, you’re wasting money. Instead, try experimenting with smaller amounts. Chances are you’ll find that you’re more than able to succeed with the smaller amounts.
9. Not DIY’ing
There really is money saving in DIY’ing your own household and beauty products, so if you’re not doing these things, you are wasting money. Even if you don’t have the time to do every product you use, you will still save money by making it yourself.
Now, I do want to address something very quickly: A lot of folks see the cost of DIY supplies like beeswax, coconut oil and so on and they will automatically assume that those products are more expensive to make.
The truth is that yes, initially you will pay more for your supplies, however, you will use such small amounts of those supplies that they will pay for themselves in savings over and over.
If you’re unsure where to start with DIY’ing things, THESE 30 things I stopped buying to save money (Six Dollar Family) are a great place to start.
10. Buying New Instead of Repairing
My vacuum cleaner is the bane of my existence. Since we have pets, there is almost always pet fur to clean up and this stupid machine clogs super easily. And yes, I could buy a new one – one that won’t clog as often and can handle the hair of 4 cats and a dog – but why would I waste the money on it when my current one just needs cleaned out.
It takes me 10 minutes to unclog and each time I clean it out, it saves me the cost of a brand new one.
If you have something break, do you instantly rush out to buy a new one? If so, you’re very likely wasting money since most things can be repaired quite easily. This includes everything from vacuum cleaners to a pair of jeans with a hole in them.
11. Not Choosing Utility Providers
Most people don’t realize that in a lot of states energy providers have been deregulated meaning you can actually choose who delivers your power and/or natural gas. While this creates competition for the utility companies, it also allows you to save big.
For instance, my own power plan allows us to have free electricity from 8 pm to 5 am each day. Can you guess when things such as laundry and showers get done? During these free times so that I don’t have to pay extra for the power costs to do them. When we found this particular electric plan, our electric bill was quite literally cut in half.
ChooseEnergy has a great list of deregulated energy states HERE as well as more info explaining how it works.
12. Not Finding Discounts You Qualify For
It may seem silly, but if you’re not using them, you would be surprised at how much money simple discounts can save you. Things such as a military discount, a senior discount and others are all great ways to save money.
For instance, Dollar General does a military discount for veterans once every few weeks. This discount gives you 11% off your total bill. While it may only be $0.11 off every dollar, that amount will really stack up over time. Often you can find discounts for stores, restaurants and even some cell providers – like Verizon – offer them!
*Please do not use military discounts unless you genuinely qualify for them.
13. Not Comparison Shopping
If you have a habit of running into the store and grabbing the first item you need without looking at prices elsewhere, you are wasting money. This is especially true if you’re making big ticket purchases without checking prices in more than one place, you are wasting money.
Comparison shopping is a must-do for anyone who is looking to purchase anything. It’s really the only way you can ensure that you’re not overpaying for what you’re buying.
14. Not Stocking Up on Sale
Sales are there for a reason; to help you save money. If you’re not using them as an opportunity to save money over time, you’re – to be blunt – shopping wrong.
Now, I think I should mention that when I say to stock up using sales, I don’t meant to go into the store and buy 500 of the same item. I do mean to buy extra for your family. If soup is on sale and you would normally buy five cans, go ahead and buy ten. Ten is not likely to keep anyone else from saving too and it will help you save later on.
The next time you’re in the store, do the same thing. You will eventually build up a multi-month supply (Six Dollar Family) without stocking so many that others can’t buy as well.
15. Not Shopping Sale Cycles
Along with stocking up while an item is on sale, you should look at shopping the sale cycles to save money (Six Dollar Family). Stores follow a generally set pattern for when certain types of items go on sale. A good example of this is that baking ingredients usually go on sale around the end of October or early November in preparation for holiday baking.
By shopping these sale cycles while you’re working on stocking up, you are making sure that you’re not wasting money and are always getting the best price. This method works well for almost any item you’ll buy including big ticket items such as cars.
16. Not Reusing As Many Items As You Can
I am a huge fan of upcycling just about anything I can and there is a reason. It saves me so much money! Not only that but having a zero waste home (Six Dollar Family) is a great way to save money by itself.
In my home, if it can be reused, we do. If you’re not used to reusing things, THIS list of 52 things to reuse to save money (Six Dollar Family) is a great place to start.
17. Throwing Out Too Much Waste
I touched on this in the last point, but the amount of waste you’re tossing out will affect how much you’re spending. Instead, finding ways to move toward a low waste or ways to have a zero waste home (Six Dollar Family) will help you save money in those areas that you may not be seeing due to the amount of waste.
18. Using Too Many Disposable Products
Do you enjoy throwing away money? Of course you don’t, but when you use a disposable product, that is exactly what you’re doing. The more frugal (Six Dollar Family) option is to find a list of reusable products you can switch to (Six Dollar Family) so that you still have what you need and are able to save money at the same time.
Driving Too Often
Transportation is a huge part of most family budgets and if you’re driving more than you absolutely need to, you’re wasting money. Chances are good that you can find a cheaper option that won’t cost you in gasoline, insurance costs and wear and tear on your car.
For instance, if you’re just planning on running to the store for one or two items and the store is within a couple of blocks, why not throw on a good backpack and walk or ride a bike? You’ll be healthier and you’ll save a little bit of gas costs too.
Paying too Much for Insurance
How much is your car insurance each month? Or your home owners (or renters), health or dental insurance each month? Could you save a bit?
There is a very good chance that you could by simply requesting a new insurance quote from different companies than you’re currently doing business with.
19. Not Having Insurance
As someone who did not have health insurance for years, let me tell you that not having insurance can cost you so much more than having it. Aside from doctor visits, the costs of medicines, hospital emergencies and more can quite literally bankrupt you.
Just ask me about the $7400 kidney stone.
Car insurance is another must have as not having it can cost you in fines and accident costs.
20. Paying High Credit Card Fees
High credit card fees are a huge waste of money these days; especially when your debit card will function as a credit card in most situations.
If you’re currently paying high fees, consolidate your cards and pay off the balances for all but one of them. Then, keep the balance on the remaining card low enough that you can pay it off quickly and avoid high interest rates.
21. Paying High Loan Fees
Like it or not, most of us have or will take out a loan for something at some point. High loan fees can really be a huge waste of money and it’s a waste that can last for years.
If you’re paying high loan fees, it can be worth taking a look at different loan options and applying for those that have lower interest rates. The difference the interest can make in your monthly payment a huge difference.
If you’re interested in checking out the different options available to you, a site like THIS can be a good place to start. They do a soft credit check so it won’t affect your credit score.
22. Not Doing Regular Car Maintenance
Let’s get one thing straight about your car; new or old, it’s a money pit. But it doesn’t have to be a big money pit. Making sure that you perform regular maintenance on it will help keep it from becoming a total loss.
Things such as making sure your tires are in good shape and rotated, making sure you get oil changes every 3-5,000 miles, a tune up when needed and more are all going to keep you from wasting money on your mode of transportation.
23. Not Doing Regular Home Maintenance
Your home, like your car can also be a money pit if you allow it to be, but the damage can be minimized the same way by keeping up on home maintenance too. Things such as making sure your air filters are changed monthly or quarterly, making sure the roof and foundation are in good shape and that your heating and cooling unit are in good working order.
If you’re like me, remembering to change your air filters can be a hassle and can sometimes feel like you’re fighting a losing battle to remember. That’s why I have my own air filters on auto delivery through Air Filters Delivered HERE. It really makes things MUCH easier to remember and the cost is pretty good for the size of filters our own HVAC system needs!
24. Buying New When You Could Buy Used
Buying new is great for certain things, but I have always been of the mindset that it’s always best to buy a used option if you can. This is especially true for things such as cars and clothing.
I actually believe this so much that I actually have a list of things that I will never buy new HERE.
Buying new when you are able to buy a quality used alternative is really and honestly just a huge waste of money.
Now with that said, I also have a list of things I go by that I would never consider buying used right HERE. Before you buy anything, I recommend you check both.
25. Buying a Brand New Car
This technically goes with the last item, but I felt that it’s so important I wanted to mention it on it’s own.
Buying a new car is nothing but a waste of money. There is truth to the thought that your car depreciates the minute it leaves the lot. Not only that, but you will typically pay thousands of dollars extra in interest from a loan and more.
It’s really just a huge waste of money. Instead, buy a quality used car and try to pay cash if possible. You’ll save far more than you ever realized.
26. Not Having Multiple Streams of Income
Most of us have jobs – and if not, I have tips for surviving on no income right HERE for you – but having only one stream of income is a great way to not only waste money but also to find yourself struggling financially.
With this one, you don’t waste money in the typical fashion. Instead, it’s wasted by simply not being earned. It’s sort of a “leaving money on the table” situation.
My Favorite Side Hustles
Having multiple streams of income is sometimes the only way to have a fully funded budget each month. It can seem complicated to do though; especially if you’re already stretched to the limit on time.
But having multiple streams of income doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be as simple as working for a few minutes a day online. Two of my favorite side hustles are just like this.
27. Boredom Shopping
I will admit that this is one that I have fallen victim to in the past. Boredom or comfort shopping is a fantastic way to waste money. In fact, it’s one of the most common ways you’re wasting money without realizing it.
What’s worse is that a boredom or comfort shopping habit can easily turn into a compulsive shopping problem. If that’s you, don’t be ashamed. A lot of people have the same problem, but it isn’t talked about often.
One of my fellow frugal bloggers, Lauren Greutman once had the same problem. She talks about it and how she beat it in her book “The Recovering Spender” HERE on Amazon. It’s a great read if you have the same issues.
28. Constantly Reminding Yourself that You’re Broke
You may not realize it, but your thoughts absolutely an help you be broke and stay that way. It’s a trap that most of us fall into one time or the other.
If you are constantly telling yourself that you’ll never get out of the financial situation you’re in, you will ultimately self-sabotage yourself. This self sabotage can lead to overspending (Six Dollar Family), not following your budget and more.
Seriously. Just try being positive for a while. You’d be surprised at what a new outlook can do for your budget.
29. Not Using Rewards to Your Advantage
If you have to spend money, why not get rewarded for it? If you don’t seek out and use all the rewards you can get, you’re again wasting money by leaving it laying. And trust me, rewards are out there if you’re looking for htm.
For instance: Does your grocery store have a fuel rewards program? If so, you’re wasting money by not using those fuel points.
As you can see by the last time I filled my car up, you could be wasting a whole lot of money. Another store I shop at frequently offers a rewards program that gives you coupons for free food.
Other common ways to use rewards to help you waste less money is by using a site such as Rakuten to get cash back when you shop (Get a FREE $10 gift card HERE with your first $25 purchase from Rakuten) or by using Amazon’s 2% gift card reload bonus HERE.
I hope I’ve shown you that you are wasting money in ways you never expected or realized. As I said earlier, it can be super easy to do. If you’ve noticed yourself doing any of the things I’ve listed, make an effort to stop doing them.
Your budget will thank you and over time, you’ll start to see even more places where you’re wasting money without realizing.