Just last week I read the article “Ten Biggest Money Wasters” over on CNNMoney.com and was fascinated at the types of things that people tend to waste their hard-earned money on. While a lot of us go way out of our way to clip mounds of coupons, drive an extra mile out of the way to save $0.03 per gallon of gasoline, or buy the cheapest items we can find (which only need to be replaced every few years rather than lasting forever), many of us waste money each and every day on little things that really add up — and are mostly avoidable. While I encourage you to go read the entire article I referenced above, I wanted to mention a few items on the list for your perusal:
- ATM Fees – Chances are that your bank charges you a hefty fee to use “out of network” ATM machines, while the owners of said machines also charge you a fee for the privilege of using their machine. Those fees add up quickly at $5+ per ATM transaction! While you can avoid those fees by either using only your bank’s ATM machines and/or getting cash back on debit transactions, I have avoided ATM fees altogether by switching to Charles Schwab bank, which reimburses any and all ATM fees you may be charged by using any ATM machine.
- Lottery Tickets – Often called a “Tax on the Poor”, spending a fortune on lottery tickets is a foolhardy way to try to get rich. Sure, it happens to some people once in a great while but it’s probably not going to happen to you. That being said, I myself do buy the occasional $1 ticket just to give myself a quick boost in the “what if…” section of my brain, knowing full well I am not going to win. $1 isn’t going to break me anytime soon, but consumers spend $70 billion per year on lottery tickets. That’s a lot of wasted money.
- Gourmet Coffee – I disagree 100% with this item on the list, as coffee is my savior in the morning…and afternoon…and sometimes even after dinner. I buy only organic (as coffee is one of the most pesticide-laden foods for sale) and fair-trade coffee for my house, and it’s worth every penny — for my sanity and my health. There really is a difference between cheap coffee and organic, fresh, well-grown beans.
- Infomercial shopping – $400 billion dollars per year is spent on infomercial shopping. Yes, I said BILLION. And on stuff that the average person neither needs or actually wants. The impulse shopping that takes place from TV advertising is a plague on people’s wallets and bank accounts, and 99% of the time I would say is a complete waste of money. The solution? Either DVR only the TV shows you want to watch and watch nothing more — or ditch the TV altogether. Raise your hand if you don’t own a TV! It’s been a great decision for my wallet and my head, ditching the tube.
There are six other money wasters on that published list, and chances are that you probably do some (if not all) of them on a daily or weekly basis! If I had to come up with my own small list of things that people waste money on, it would include:
- Buying a bigger house than you or your family needs
- Not spending money on proper insulation and HVAC equipment for long term utility savings
- Buying higher-octane gasoline for your car than it needs
- Wasting money on bottled water, most of which is basically just filtered tap water
- Home phone service if you A. rarely use it and B. have a good cellphone
- Buying loads and loads of books and DVD’s. Not only do most people read a book/watch a movie only once, but chances are that anything you may want is available at a local library — for free
So this brings me back to you – what do you waste money on? What do you see other people waste money on? For some money wasters, going through checklists like the one containing all the items above can save a lot more money than searching for a “Save $0.10 on your next bag of potato chips” coupon before the next trip to the grocery store. By using common sense and by monitoring where your money truly goes, saving some money on “money wasters” can go a long way to keeping that bank account balance up where it belongs!
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