Have you been guilty of wasting money? Is there something that you’ve bought, or spent money on, & regret? Or there are just some things you spend money on, that sneak past your nose? Usually my blog is dedicated to beauty / fashion, but I’m here to save YOU money! I have seen other lists that people have made of ‘ways you’re wasting money’, but I’d thought I’d come up with my own list!
1. Gym / other related memberships. I’ll admit I’m guilty of this one. Not the gym, but there was a time in college where I signed up for a membership to a Yoga center, thinking it was a great deal: thinking I would go, & that it would be good for my health. In all honesty I went once & never went again. And I did end up having that membership for a couple of months. I’m sure there are those of you who have signed up for the gym, personal training, or some type of classes, but hardly gone; & couldn’t bring yourself to cancel the membership. If you really must join a gym there are inexpensive ones you could go to like Planet Fitness ($10 a month), Blink Fitness (starts at $15 a month), Lucille Roberts (they have different promotional offers; as of the moment you can join, & the 1st 2 months are free). Whatever you choose, make sure you give yourself the conviction to GO on a regular basis. Or you could go jogging through your local park, get some free weights / yoga mat / work out at home, watch exercise dvds / videos on Youtube (there are hundreds of them!) and save yourself some money.
2. Bottled Water. I admit I was guilty of this one too. I do have some rust in the tap water of my house, & at one point I was afraid that the water filters weren’t doing their job. So there was a phase where I did buy cases & cases of bottled water. Unless you live in a country where the tap water isn’t safe to drink, there’s no need to constantly buy bottled water. According to Forbes, human beings are now making a million bottles a minute! And not all of that gets recycled! For the sake of the earth, & for the sake of your wallet, get a water filter. Get more than one, if you need it! If you install a faucet water filter, you can use it up to 3 or 4 months! That could be a 100 gallons of water! Do yourself another favor, get a reusable bottle (they can keep your drinks warm / cold longer than usual) & a bottle brush, & save yourself money on bottled water.
3. Using too many paper towels. Why are wasting your money on this when there are more affordable & environment friendly options? If you haven’t heard, there are Swedish dishcloths on the market now, that are reusable, & when they’re dirty you can toss them in the laundry machine. 100% natural, biodegradable, & kinder on your wallet & the environment. Click here if you would like to see a wider variety of dishcloths.
4. An overpriced cable / cell phone bill. Every cable provider nowadays offers package deals these days; whether its tv, internet, or phone. But are you actively using all the subscriptions that you’ve paid for? I think every cable tv provider has a list of “music channels” where they simply play, well music & nothing else. Do you need that? If you have a landline, how often do you actually use it? Or do you use an expensive provider, when you could change to a less expensive one? (Fyi for those of you who subscribe to Verizon, keep in mind that they were one of the companies that lobbied to end net neutrality) Or could you cancel cable tv & live with just the internet, Hulu & Netflix? Take a closer glance at your cable / cell phone bill, & see what you can cut out, or trade in for a better deal elsewhere. Shopping around & comparing prices quite often pays off.
5. High End Designer Goods. Many of us are a sucker for these. Whether its a bag, an expensive pair of shoes; most of us have indulged it in some way. But especially living in the US, you can always find people that live beyond their means. i.e. I have a friend who loves to buy Gucci bags, (mind you, they can cost like $3,000) but yet dreams of buying her own house. I feel like her love could take a back seat when it comes to the bigger picture. If you are insistent on getting designer things, you can get them on sale, or secondhand to save money. Me, personally if I want something high end I tend to get it on sale, & at an outlet. And it definitely has to be something that you can get a lot of use out of, not something you use once & then forget in your closet. (If you’re going to spend a lot, you’d better get the best bang for your buck)
Fyi, On a separate note, I had spent some time in Italy, & noticed that Italians love to live la vita bella (the beautiful life), but are not necessarily able to afford it. Sometimes I would hear of men who would buy Ferraris, but couldn’t afford their groceries afterwards. And also it’s very common for Italians to take out loans to go on vacation in the summertime. Prioritize your expenses, & don’t live beyond your means.
6. Buying coffee / freshly squeezed juices. And who doesn’t love a fresh cup of coffee or fresh juice from Starbucks or Jamba Juice? In all honesty these drinks on the go put a nice dent in your wallet, especially if you drink them on a regular basis. If you bought 3 lattes a week, you’d be spending $500 a year on coffee alone! You could take advantage of the free coffee (at work), get that juicer, espresso or french press maker if you really want to. I have a friend who says that her coworkers take turns buying the coffee for the office. Save yourself the money, & make your own coffee, or juice at home. (The reusable bottle is useful here too!)
7. Having More Than One Credit Card. I think that credit cards are generally a bad influence & a very slippery slope to accruing more debt. Sure it has its usefulness, every card has perks, & it helps build up credit. But what’s the general reason why people open up a 2nd or 3rd card? Usually it’s because they’ve maxed it out & need another one. If you paid the minimum balance every month on your credit cards, you could spend years paying off just the interest. The average American pays about $2,600 a year in credit card interest! Think about what you could’ve done with that money! In all honesty I do have a credit card (haven’t used it in years) I’ve been using my debit card for years & have not had a problem.
I used to have a coworker who was horrible with them; he had raked up 10 credit cards; all to whom he owed debt. Think about it: every time he got his paycheck he had to split it 11 ways: 10 ways went to his credit card bills, & the 11th portion went to himself. And bear in mind he wasn’t a young man either, he was in his late 50s. Don’t go into retirement in massive debt. You’ve got a card that has great perks? Perhaps you travel & you get mileage out of it? Or maybe one that doesn’t charge international fees? Or you get great cash back? Whatever it is, pick one, stick to it, & don’t bite off more than you can chew. Helpful hint: Call your credit card company (they might have a promo offer) & always try to whittle down the interest rate.
8. ATM fees (other bank / credit card fees). This is the easiest money that banks will ever make. Every time you use an ATM that’s not a part of your bank, you have to pay the ATM a fee, as well as the bank fee itself. (Unless you have an account that waives these fees) Not to mention that ATMs that are not affiliated with banks, are considered unsafe. (People will want to attach skimmers to them all the time, to collect bank account info. So stay away from the ATM at the local deli) One time I read a piece of advice from Nina Garcia: leave a $50 bill in the back of your wallet, & then forget about it. If you’re ever stuck in a situation that’s cash only, or you need to catch a cab ride home, you’ll always have that $50 there to back you up.
9. Throwing out leftovers / overbuying food. I think LOTS of people are guilty of this one. I was definitely one of those. And this is a good question: how many people do you know actually eat everything in the fridge? And here’s another good question: do you know everything’s that’s in your freezer? How long has it been there? Do you plan on using it? I think the freezer is the biggest culprit in forgotten food: we just throw food in there to freeze, & then forget about them.
I remember one time I had a friend who worked as a nanny. She worked for a wealthy family & their fridge was constantly stocked. However, every week they would wait for food to go bad, throw it out, & then go buy more food. All I could think about how that was a horrible waste it was.
Helpful hint: Keep a log of every time you buy groceries, & review your previous list the next time you go grocery shopping. Ask yourself every time you view the list, did I use everything I bought? This will help you budget your shopping, & clarifies what you could buy, what you need, & what you don’t need.
Another helpful hint: Don’t buy in bulk if you don’t need to. Stores like Costco, BJs, Sam’s Club all like to entice you with their lower prices, in store exclusives, & membership perks. I’m a member of BJs, & they send me their coupons in the mail; & in all honesty looking at the prices it really doesn’t vary much from Target or Walmart (except they come in larger sizes). You don’t need a 30 oz. jar of mayonnaise if you’re a single person living by yourself. Unless you’re shopping for a family of 4 (or more), here’s another membership fee that is basically a waste of money.
10. Movie theater food. Here’s a little known fact: Movie theaters don’t actually make money off of the movies. It has to do with copyrights & fees they pay to distributors; they don’t actually make money until a movie has been in the theaters for a month or 2. So where do they make their money? The concession stand, of course. There is a movie theater near me that charges $5 for a soda. And that’s a SMALL. And this theater is infamous for watering their sodas down. In general they love to offer combos with LARGE sodas, knowing that you will never be able to finish the soda in 1 sitting. Either skip the food, or if you want to be tacky like me, I hit Duane Reade right before the movie & I sneak some Raisinets or a drink in my bag.
11. Lottery Tickets. There are people who have a weakness for these. I have a friend who constantly buys scratch off tickets. Sometimes she wins $5, $10, sometimes nothing. And it can be addictive; I see it as another form of gambling. If you absolutely love getting lottery tickets, you can always sign up at Lucktastic, the website that offers scratch offs for free. Otherwise, save your money on something more fruitful.
12. Eating out every day. Yes I know, there are lots of people who love to eat out, are foodies, & there are also lots of people who don’t like to cook. But however, in the long run you are spending a lot more money if you do. Let’s do some basic math: let’s say you eat $10 a meal out every day of the year. That’s $3,650 already out of your wallet. What happens if you eat out for lunch & dinner? That’s $7,300! And don’t give yourself poor excuses like ‘It takes too long’; the internet is chock full of recipes for 20 min dinners. You probably spend 20 min just waiting for your food at the restaurant. And there are lots of recipes that are designed to be simple or for beginners, and cooking videos, as well. And there are also videos online of people who meal prep for the whole week! (You could watch them & be inspired!)
‘It’s too expensive’ is another poor excuse as well; it is if you’re shopping at Whole Foods. Check out your nearest Trader Joes, Fairway Market (they’re not super cheap but they have lots of sales). Checking out the grocery section of your local Target or Walmart doesn’t hurt either. Helpful hint: if you happen to live near an ethnic supermarket, definitely take a look. Whether they’re Latin, or Asian, their produce is priced lower than most American supermarkets. It never hurts to take a look. I’ve given you a bunch of options now, & start saving money on food!
13. Buying books. This is hard because I am a book lover & do have a small collection of books. There are some of us who have dreamt of having our own personal library at home. But in all honesty: how many books have you picked up to read more than once? I’m guessing not that many. So most books, you read once, & you put it back on your shelf, never to read it again to collect dust. Unless you work in a field that requires you to have a library of books on hand for reference, I’m guessing you’re not getting a lot of mileage out of them all.
Helpful Hint: Do yourself (& your community) a favor by donating them to the public library. And the plethora of items they will accept is WIDE: they will take books (in foreign languages too!), magazines, comic books, newspapers, as well as cds, & dvds! Call or ask your local library for more details.
If you’re adamant on having your own personal library, consider ebooks. They cost less, obviously take up less space & by far are more portable.
14. Forgetting to return things. How many of you (especially ladies) out there have clothes hanging in your closet that you’ve never worn? & that still have the original price tag on it? I’m guessing more than 1 of you. Have you ever bought anything that you didn’t like, didn’t fit, & for whatever reason forgot to return it? Or perhaps you missed the deadline of returning items? There are stores that are very forgiving, (Target gives you 6 months! Macy’s give you up to a year!) whereas others are not (Forever21 only gives 28 days). What about beauty products? I’m sure there are things that you’ve tried that you ended up not liking. Sephora, Ulta, Rite Aid, as well as Target, will take back used products that you weren’t happy with for a FULL refund! So if you tried it, didn’t like, by all means you can return it to these stores. Don’t let these things sit around your house when it could be (literally) money in your pocket. Return that stuff!
15. Buying things you end up never using. I’m sure we’ve all done this. I’m sure we were all in an ambitious mood to do something, but for whatever reason, our interest fell short. I think that new year resolutions quite often fall into this category. My guilty indulgence is that I have a stocked pantry full of canned goods, just in case for a rainy day. And this ‘rainy day‘ has never come, & the food I have is mostly expired & needs to be tossed. And this could be anything, not just food. Did you buy the latest food processor, exercise machine, air purifier, blender, or whatever funky gadget you thought you were gonna use, but never ended up using?
Helpful Hint: make a list of the things you want to buy (like a wishlist), & hold onto it. Let a month pass by & take a look at the list again. Have you forgotten about these items? If you have completely forgotten about them, then it’s probably wise not to buy them. However, if a month has passed & you’re still mulling it over, then it’s worth a consideration. If it is a gadget, then wait for a good deal, or for something to go on sale. From my experience impulsive decisions tend to be regretful ones.
16. Overspending on tickets to concerts / events. I’m guilty of this too! Of course this doesn’t help when a big music artist comes to town & their tickets start at $130. I have a friend who went to 3 concerts (of the same artist) in a row! That’s a terrible waste of money. Also I live in NYC, & i.e. Broadway shows are horribly overpriced.
Helpful hint: Consider sitting higher (even nosebleed), because as much as you would like to sit closer, it’s only for 1 night, & it’s 1 event. ($200 is a lot to blow on 1 concert) And me personally, I love to sit in the center back (even in movie theaters) so I get a view of everything. In NYC if it’s a Broadway show you want to see, there is TKTS, which allows you to buy same day tickets at a discounted price! Or for Broadway shows you could wait for the popularity to die down (the price of the tickets usually go down with it, therefore scoring a better deal) If you live in a big city, there are always free events, i.e. in Central Park they always have free concerts in the summer. Otherwise, there’s always Groupon, LivingSocial, Goldstar, & even Fever for discounted tickets!
Another helpful hint: Consider going to a music festival. (i.e. Coachella) Check out to see what musical festivals are in the city near you! They’re outdoors, there’s no seating, so the vibe is already different than a concert. I read online that the tickets to Coachella are about $100 a day, but the great thing is that these are all day passes & you can see as many artists as you would like that are performing on that day. Not cheap, but definitely you get more bang for your buck. 1 perk about no seating, is as that as people leave the concert, you can shimmy a little bit closer to the stage. I speak from experience 😉
17. Buying Everything Brand New. In all honesty you don’t need to do it. I used to have an ‘ick’ factor, but for the most part I’ve gotten over it. In our house, most of our electronics are bought secondhand. I’m not saying we necessarily go meet someone off of Craigslist, but i.e. Amazon will offer lots of products with 2ndhand (or refurbished) options that are much cheaper than their brand new counterparts. And I have bought i.e. clothes from places like Poshmark & Thredup, at greatly discounted prices because they’re 2ndhand! And sometimes I save more than 50% off the original price of the garments! So what are you waiting for?
Helpful hint: When it comes to electronics, buyer an older version. You didn’t need to get the Iphone X when it came out. And when it did, all of the older versions of the Iphone were automatically cheaper. (You could i.e. get the Iphone 7 at a much lower rate once Iphone X came out). And this doesn’t just apply to cell phones! And for household appliances make sure you get energy efficient ones!
18. Not Comparing Prices. This is a big one. If you don’t shop wisely & compare prices with different sites / stores; you are doomed to waste money. And this could be on anything. One time I wanted to buy a Vince Camuto dress; just doing a simple google search I found the dress 40% cheaper at another store! I mentioned once before a skill I learned from my husband: be patient, shop for deals, & constantly compare prices. You could save hundreds of dollars when you wait for the right sale! There are also price comparing websites likes Paribus, & Pricegrabber that you should check out! There’s also Camel Camel Camel (I know, amazing name, right?) which keeps track of the fluctuating prices of the products sold on Amazon. If you are an Amazon shopper, you should definitely check that out to see if you are indeed paying the best price for a particular item. Also there’s an extension called Honey, which you can download onto your internet program & every time you shop it automatically searches coupons for you online!
19. An Expensive Beauty Regimen. I read an article somewhere, where a woman claimed that she “spends $3,000 a year on her beauty routine” and doesn’t regret it one bit. I can only imagine how devastated she’d be if one day she should lose her job. You don’t need to get that vampire facial just because Kim Kardashian got one. If it’s something you need health-wise, then go for it. I have a friend who used to get a professional gel manicure (with tips) every week, & every week she’d pay at least $30. That’s $1,560 a year! If there is some treatment that you absolutely want / need, whether it’s facials, or hair removal, Groupon & Living Social are your best friends.
20. Your Laundry. Oh boy where do I begin? Let me list these so it’s easier to see:
-Use an energy efficient washer / dryer. Don’t waste money on your water / electric bill.
-Air dry your clothes will help elongate their life; as well as save you money also on the electric bill.
-Only wash full loads of laundry; on the coldest temperature the fabrics will allow.
-Don’t wash your clothes after only wearing it once. Unless you work in a field where your clothes are constantly soiled; there’s no need to wash it so frequently. Also this is damaging to your garments.
Have I saved you money somewhere? What are you guilty of wasting money on? Share your thoughts below! And check out some other money saving articles below!
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