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If you’re like most people, you probably don’t always recognize the ways you waste your money. No matter what kind of life you lead or career you have, you probably throw away at least some of your precious green.

Maybe you tell yourself it’s okay that you pay the extra bank fees or that the cable bill increased. You think to yourself, “It’s too much trouble to unplug the laptop,” or “The charger’s not really using any power unless I have the cell phone plugged into it.”

You may have some money-wasting habits that you don’t even realize you’re doing.

I want to give you all the ways you can hold onto YOUR moola instead of losing it. Why waste your money when you could put it to good use?

You’ll discover a variety of alternatives to ensure you make your money extend as far as possible, ranging from bargaining with the department store clerk to buying items for lower than advertised costs or phasing down expenditures for costly and unhealthy habits.

Top 17 Ways You’re Throwing Money Away And What To Do About It

1. Practicing Pricey and Unhealthy Habits

Buying expensive coffee drinks four or five days a week can cost you enough money to buy two or even three meats for dinners at home

If you’re in the habit of stopping by your local watering hole for a couple of beers on your way home from work, you could be spending anywhere from $4.00 to $7.00 per beer or mixed drink.

The costs of unhealthy habits add up and cramp your budget big time. These habits are not only pricey – they take a toll on your physical health as well, which can cost you even more in medical bills and missed time at work.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Make your own coffee at home and place it in a travel mug for your commute to work. If you like more than one cup of coffee or iced coffee drink a day, take a thermos of your favorite beverage to the office. Keep straws in your car or bag for quick sipping.

‣ If you smoke, limit the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. You could allow more time between each cigarette. One way to cut back is to smoke only one cigarette per hour. After a week, extend the time to one and one-quarter hours. The third week, make it one and one-half hours. Work up to waiting as long as possible between cigarettes.

‣ Yes, it’s best to quit, but cutting way back on what you smoke will at least get you started in the right direction and save you some money. If you’re not ready to stop smoking completely, strive to save half the amount of cash you now spend monthly on cigarettes.

‣ Although there are plenty of reasons to avoid alcohol, you can, at least, save money by limiting how much you drink when you’re out. Better yet, drive straight home and have a beer in your favorite chair with your feet up. You’ll save a decent amount of green when you buy alcohol by the 6-pack or fifth and drink it at home.

2. Giving Your Money to a Bank for Monthly Fees or Credit Card Charges

If your bank is taking one cent of your money for your checking account (other than to charge you for printing new checks), that’s one cent too much.

These days, many banks are looking for any excuse possible to tack on extraneous fees, like charging you for your monthly statement or making you pay ridiculously high monthly balance fees.
What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Go talk to your local credit union. Many credit unions have free checking accounts where they only charge for bounced checks or ordering new checkbooks from the printer. Find out in advance what fees you’ll be billed for before you put your money in any financial institution.

‣ Ask your current bank manager to reduce or remove the fees they’re charging you. Sometimes, they will.

‣ Ensure you don’t carry any credit card balances from month to month. Pay off all credit card balances each month – otherwise, you’re wasting your money paying extravagant interest fees.

3. Phone Plans

Do you really know what you’re paying for on your cell phone bill? If you’re getting charged for 750 minutes per month during business hours and only using about 100 a month, it’s wise to know. Also, unlimited texting or data plans can add an additional $20 to $30 to your monthly bill.

Unless you use your cell phone for work, the company’s best “package deal” might be full of charges for services you don’t even need – at a higher cost than what you would pay by only ordering the size plan that’s best for your own circumstances.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Re-read your cell phone plan to determine whether it’s the lowest and most cost-effective plan to fit your specific needs.

‣ Know your approximate minutes used each month. Find out the quick way to access your usage statistics on your cell phone. All cell phone companies have this feature available to their customers. Once you have this knowledge, you can ask informed questions about the types of plans to fit your needs.

‣ Have a clear idea of the approximate number of texts you send and receive in any given month. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying the $20 or $30 extra for unlimited texts when you may save way more cash by merely paying the 20- or 30-cent per text charge.

‣ In the event, you have an atypical month with a huge number of texts and don’t have the unlimited plan, call your cell phone company right away. Some will change your rate plan right then to the unlimited plan for that month and the next two months.

‣ Then, if by the fourth month your texts are back to normal, you can call the company to switch back to paying per text.

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life unless I buy something

Jackie Mason

4. Not Asking Enough Questions

When you aren’t asking questions, you may be spending more cash than is necessary.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ When you’re shopping, ask for an extra 10% off or inquire if they have a coupon you can use for bigger savings. And be ready to walk without any items if you can’t get an extra percentage off. Why? Because there are department stores willing to give you extra dollars off your total amount spent. You just need to find out which stores will do it.

‣ Call your credit card account carriers and ask for a lower interest rate on your credit purchases. If they want to keep your business, they’ll lower it. If they don’t agree to reduce the fees, stop using the card, and take your business elsewhere.

‣ Before starting a new banking or credit card account anywhere, ask these questions:

‣ How much interest will you charge me?

‣ Will the rate change? When? Under what circumstances?

‣ What extra fees will be on my bill, including taxes?

‣ In sum, ask questions of everyone you can think of who has anything to do with your money. Step up to get the answers you need.

5. Ignoring the Coupons in the Newspaper and Mailed Brochures

Most people simply don’t look at the coupons that come in the newspaper. And what do you do with those leaflets you receive in snail mail – do they just go into the recycling bin?

You’re throwing your money away when you ignore the special offers that local and national companies are making an effort to tell you about.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Rather than ignore these two simple ways to save a few bucks, why not take 15 minutes a week to look through the coupons that are delivered right to your door? Save the coupon leaflets before you throw your newspaper out for recycling. There’s free money in them!

‣ Challenge yourself to use at least three or four coupons a week for items you normally use or want to try. You’ll see that you spend less by doing so.

6. Not Being Informed About Your Finances

If you’re used to spending your money first and then later trying to figure out what happened to it, you’ll find that you invariably move to a more secure financial position if you pay attention to the details of your cash flow before spending that paycheck.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ When you get paid, really think about what you’ll be using the money for. Pay yourself first – put 10% of your funds into savings. Then budget the rest. You’ll avoid wasting money on items that really make no difference to you in the long term.

‣ Spread out your expenditures over time, so you’re not over-spending when you get paid. For example, if you buy that new electronic tablet you’ve been wanting, plan not to spend for extras for the next three to six months.

‣ Keep orderly records on what you spend so that you can look back through your documents or financial software program to see how you’re doing.

‣ Knowledge is power! Use it to help you achieve your financial goals.

Money talks, but all it ever says is good-bye

American Proverb

7. Paying Extra Fees because You Missed Bill Deadlines

You’re pretty much guaranteed to be charged extra fees if you don’t pay your bills on time. Banking institutions just love to add on these fees, and a huge portion of their income comes from late payments – possibly yours included!

You’re giving money away if you’re paying bills late. Firstly, you’re likely paying an inflated interest rate on the unpaid balance, and secondly, you’re likely being charged a late fee as well. Thirdly, you’re building a financial reputation with the company that you may not be proud of.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ The best way to be responsible about your money and to save some money is to always (yes, always) pay your bills on time. Develop and use a system that helps you pay before bills are due.

‣ Whether it’s the old-fashioned “envelope method” with separate envelopes of cash for each of your monthly payments, or a bank account designated just for paying the house bills, establish an efficient system you can use.

‣ Get a calendar to record the dates that each of your monthly bills are due. Use highlighter color-coding or whatever will help you to pay bills 7 days before they’re due. Endeavor now to never miss a payment. You can be successful if you focus your efforts.

8. Not Paying Attention

When you talk to your local cable company, banking institution, or another merchant about their products or services, do you fall for the hard-sell tricks they use to get you to sign on for more services?

Keep in mind that the phone representatives you’re speaking with might be getting paid on a commission basis. Their goal is to convince you you’re getting a good deal if you allow them to bump up your bill a bit.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Focus your attention on what the company representative is saying. If you’re unsure about any offer they’re pushing, decline it. Be proactive when it comes to the businesses you work with.

‣ Before agreeing to any additional fees, re-state what you believe the rep is telling you so you can clarify and ensure you understand the situation. Ask questions and listen carefully to their responses.

‣ Paying attention when talking to representatives of the companies you do business with can put you on the path to financial success.

9. Faulty Vacation Planning

If you’re planning your vacation when most other vacationers will be visiting the locale, you’ll pay top dollar for flights and hotels.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Schedule your vacations, so they’re during the off-season. This way, hotels will cost less, plus you’ll enjoy the added benefits of no waiting in restaurants or at local tourist attractions. And you’ll likely get the flight you want at a reduced rate as well.

Never spend your money before you have it

Thomas Jefferson

10. Eating in Restaurants Too Often

In the evening after a long day, you might often feel too tired or busy to cook and serve a meal for your family. It’s so tempting to pick up fast food or take the family out for dinner. But one dinner out can sometimes cost as much as groceries for several days or even a whole week.

Here are some ways you can save money and have the time to serve cheap tasty meals.

What You Can Do Instead:

Plan your evening meals for the following week on Saturdays or Sundays. Choose meals that are simple to prepare, healthy, and that most family members like.

‣ Develop your store list from the meals you planned. Shop on Saturday or Sunday for the following week.

‣ Place meats in the freezer if you won’t be cooking them for 4 or 5 days. Learn to use the “Defrost” function on your microwave or move frozen meats from the freezer to the refrigerator one or two days before you plan to cook them.

‣ Make your own “fast food.” When you cook, make larger quantities and freeze the leftovers. This way, you’ll always have nutritious, heat-and-serve meals available for fast, easy dinners. Just think of the money you’ll save by being able to pass up the fast-food joints.

‣ Make at least one meal a week in your slow cooker to save both time and money.

‣ Talk to your partner for assistance with meal preparation. Also, make meal preparation a positive family affair by assigning each child a task to do to get ready for the meal.

11. Keeping Your Business with the Same Company for Too Long

You know how it is: you get comfortable with your cell phone or cable company, pest control business, or other merchant. You stop asking questions, and your rate gradually increases over time.

You recognize the cost of doing business rises so you just go along with it. You simply accept the fact that “things are getting more expensive.”

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ When you notice a rate increase, call the company and inquire about it. “What is the charge for?” “Why did the price go up?” “What can I do to get a lower rate?”

‣ If the company isn’t willing to lower their rate, tell them you plan to check the rates of their competitors and then make some calls to other companies who offer the same services.

‣ Make an effort to bargain for only the services you want.

‣ Contact the competitors of businesses you regularly use to check on their fees and service offerings. Strive to get a better deal. Confidently make a switch if you need to.

12. Not Thinking About the Number of Electrical Items You Have Plugged in

Electronics and appliances use power and cost you money even if the item isn’t turned on. So, too, do your chargers for your cell phone, tablet, and laptop.

Even when you aren’t charging the devices, if the charger is plugged in, it still raises your electric bill.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Unplug chargers when you’re not actually charging an electronic device.

‣ Unplug your morning appliances like toasters and coffee brewers after you use them.

‣ Always turn off your laptop and unplug it when you’re finished using it. Even though it has a “sleep” function, “off” and unplugged cost you absolutely zero.

If you make a habit of unplugging as many of your electronics and small appliances as possible when you’re not using them, it will become just an automatic move for you, and you’ll not even notice the effort. However, you’ll notice the savings on your electric bill!

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income

Errol Flynn

13. Spending Too Much On Your Car

Of course, it’s important to take care of your cars. But maybe you’re getting your oil checked more often than you really need to.

Plus, do you pay attention to how much you’re spending per gallon on gasoline? Or do you just pull into the closest gas station? Many times, another station that’s only a block away could be charging much less per gallon!

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Read your manufacturers’ manual for your vehicle. You’ve probably stored it in your glove box. Look up what the recommendations are for when to get your oil changed and the grade level of gasoline to use to get the best gas mileage and motor performance.

‣ These days, most of the newer car manuals state it’s appropriate to change your oil every 6,000 to 7,000 miles. So, even if your mechanic says it’s every 3,000 miles, follow what your manual says.

‣ Smartphone users can download apps that tell them where they can go nearby for the cheapest gas. For example, try the free app, GasBuddy. You’re just a few clicks away from finding the lowest cost gas near you.

‣ Before you pump, double-check the price you’ll be paying for fuel. Stations often post their cash only prices on their billboards. You’ll pull up to the pump, thinking you’re about to get a good deal. But then if you pay with a credit card, you could get slammed with four to eight cents more per gallon.

‣ Carry enough cash for gas, just in case. Rather than paying a higher price per gallon, have a secret stash of cash to pay the lowest rate for fuel.

14. Purchasing Books, CDs, and DVDs at Full Price

Reading books, listening to music, and watching movies are wonderful pastimes. But they can also cost a lot of money.

Books can cost $15 or more. The world of music is so vast that if you’re a music lover, buying many CDs to have a varied collection can be expensive.

You’ll also put down a healthy chunk of change to indulge your viewing habits if you buy at full price.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Rather than pay full price, why not check out your local second-hand book trade shops? It’s likely you’ll pay just half the cost of a new book, CD, or DVD.

‣ Better yet, visit your local library! That’s right – don’t spend a dime to indulge your reading habit. The library also carries a plethora of CDs and DVDs you can check out for free.

‣ Also, for free music, try downloading the free Pandora Radio Smartphone app. You can choose the music genre you want to listen to and then groove to all the tunes you want for free.
Strive to enjoy your favorite habits without paying out hard-earned money.

15. Impulsively Buying the Latest Thing

Are you an impulse buyer? If so, you’re no doubt wasting your money!

Grabbing what you want at the moment and then spending your money frivolously is a good way to kiss your money good-bye.

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Jot down the name of something you see that you want. Then, go home to research it online. What does it do exactly? How does it work? Educate yourself about what you think you want to buy. Otherwise, you may impulsively buy an item and get it home to find it doesn’t do what you thought it would.

‣ Find reviews online of products you’re interested in. You might find a different brand for half the price of what you were about to buy that works just as well.

Perform comparison-shopping online to ensure you get the best deal possible for the item you want or to discover a similar item for less cost. For online items, remember to include shipping in your cost. You’ll save money and still get what you want. Now, that’s living the good life!

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like

Will Smith

16. Avoiding Generic Brands for Food, Household Goods, and Clothing

Do you consistently prefer name brands? If so, you’re spending a lot more money on food items and clothing than you have to.

For example, if you prefer Tide Liquid HE Laundry Detergent for your energy-efficient washer, you’ll pay $7.54 for a 50-ounce bottle. And when it comes to clothing, a Polo Classic Fit Mesh Shirt for men costs $85.00.

Thankfully, you can spend much less for a similar quality and look!

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ If you’re willing to switch to the lesser-known laundry detergent brand, Wisk 2X Laundry Detergent, it costs only $9.97 for 100 ounces. Therefore, you’d save $5.11 over what you would have spent on an equal amount of Tide.

‣ For men’s short sleeve shirts, you can buy a Lands’ End Peruvian Polo Shirt very similar to the Ralph Lauren Polo for $35.00 to $40.00. That’s less than half the cost!

‣ Open up your mind to the idea that you don’t have to purchase expensive name brands to feel better about yourself. After all, how good will you feel when you have extra money in your pocket at the end of the week? Strengthen your resolve to avoid pricey brands.

17. Using Credit Cards with No Rewards Programs

Many card companies are all about charging extravagant interest rates, high late payment fees, and even monthly costs to carry the card. You could be carrying a credit card now that doesn’t offer you much in the way of benefits.

However, when you’re savvy about the world of credit cards, you’ll save a lot of money and enjoy valuable perks as well!

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Know everything about your credit cards: how much interest you pay for balances carried from month to month, any late fees you could be charged, and anything else pertinent to using the card.

‣ Never pay monthly or annual fees to have a credit card. That’s money you could be banking or paying toward your monthly bills.

‣ Only use credit cards that offer you rewards for using the card. Whether you earn mileage for your flights, credits to trade for gifts of all types, or a check for cash at the end of the year for 1-2% of your annual charges, ensure you’re getting something tangible back for using the credit card.

‣ No matter what type of credit card you use, avoid charging more than you can pay off at the end of the month. In other words, refrain from carrying month to month balances. This can save you more than you imagine. Think positive – you can do it!

18. Using the Hospital Emergency Room When It’s Not an Emergency

When you think you have the flu and can’t get into your doctor’s office, what do you do? If someone in your immediate family has a minor accident at home and sustains an injury, where do you take him to get quick medical care?

The fact is that many Americans use hospital emergency rooms for all types of medical issues, especially those that occur after normal daytime business hours. Unfortunately, emergency room patients wait excessive amounts of time and then get charged incredibly high fees.

But there are alternatives!

What You Can Do Instead:

‣ Go to a local walk-in clinic, minor emergency care provider, or 24-hour medical care facility if you can’t get into your doctor quickly enough or someone in your family experiences an accident in the evening or on the weekend.

‣ Such facilities are set up to expedite medical assessments, cost less money, and may not even charge you a co-payment.

‣ Like emergency rooms, they often have an x-ray and other diagnostic equipment. So, even after business hours, you can still get the care you need and save hours of time and perhaps hundreds of dollars by visiting one of these clinics. Of course, use your best judgement and go to a hospital when it is, indeed, an emergency!

The waste of money cures itself, for soon, there is no more to waste

M.W. Harrison

Once you accept the fact that you waste at least some of your money, you can then change some of your money-managing behaviors to keep more cash in your bank account.

Regardless of whether you spend more money than you should, pay more in monthly fees and payments than necessary, or use expensive ERs to get medical care, make a firm decision to alter your financial habits, and discover a whole new way of living.

Let’s strive to live a more financially responsible, less wasteful life. After all, you deserve it!

Waste not want not

American Proverb

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