- Even the most budget-conscious people can be prone to wasting money.
- If you take hot showers, buy pre-cut veggies, clip coupons too much, or own a car, you might be costing yourself in the long run.
- Here are 11 ways you’re throwing money away without noticing.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Even the most budget-conscious people can unknowingly spend too much money.
Many personal finance experts advise ways on how to save as much as possible, but all of us are prone to being “bad with money” from time to time.
“Worrying about waste is a poor use of your mental resources,” Ramit Sethi, best-selling author and CEO, wrote to Business Insider. “The truth is that you will waste some of your money.”
If you’re still worried about trimming your budget, there are some sneaky ways many of us can be wasting our money or spending too frivolously. From over -clipping coupons to taking hot showers, here are 11 ways you’re wasting your money without noticing.
You never check how much you’re spending.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with money is not knowing where it goes, says best-selling author and personal finance expert Ramit Sethi.
“How many times have you opened your bills, winced, then shrugged and said, ‘I guess I spent that much?’ Sethi wrote on his website, I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
To stop being caught off-guard by where your money goes, Sethi recommends being more conscious about your spending. Sethi suggests spending 50% of your income on home and groceries, 5% on investments, and the rest on savings and fun.
Follow Your Money Savings for more detailed tips on how to budget.
Your rent costs more than a fourth of your monthly paycheck.
Housing accounts for the bulk of Americans’ budget, taking an average 37% out of their take-home pay.
Cutting down on your housing costs can lead to far more significant savings than if you were to stop buying coffee and avocados, says Business Insider writer and certified financial planner Lauren Lyons Cole. Cole suggests looking for housing that costs 25% or less after your post-tax income, and use the cash you saved toward your retirement accounts.
“The best financial move you can make is to literally move to a less expensive home,” Lyons said. “Once you do, you can celebrate at your local coffee shop.”
Your monthly car payment digs into your savings.
After housing, transportation is typically a household’s second-largest cost, according to NerdWallet. If you can’t figure out where your money is going, look in your driveway.
Americans spend an average of $US725 a month (or $US8,700 a year) on a typical midsize sedan, and the cost of insurance could be even higher if you have bad credit. Many people overspend on cars to the point where they can’t pay down other debt or save for retirement, says certified financial coach Shirley Benning.
“My clients have incomes that range from $US25,000 to $US225,000, and they all have the same problem,” Benning told NerdWallet. “Their eyes are always bigger than their stomach.”
You’re using your credit card too much (even if you have a good credit score).
Even if you have a good credit score, you still may be overspending with a credit card, according to NerdWallet.
A big indicator that you’re spending too much on your credit card is if you start online shopping or going to the mall when you’re bored. Ruth Soukup, author of “Living Well Spending Less,” fell into that mistake after her husband went to work and she had nothing to do as a stay-at-home mum: “”I was overspending, even though I wasn’t spending more money than we had,” Soukup told NerdWallet.
To help break the cycle of overspending with credit, try setting weekly spending limits or go on a temporary spending freeze, Soukup suggests.
You think clipping coupons will automatically save you at the grocery store.
Clipping coupons sometimes gets shoppers good deals at the grocery store, but often time, the sales are for pre-packaged snacks that are a waste of money anyway, Beth Moncel, the chef behind the food blog Budget Bytes, told MONEY Magazine.
Instead, Moncel recommends purchasing nuts or snacks in bulk, and packaging them into smaller portions yourself. Finding deals on meat and produce using the Flipp app can also help you prepare in advance, she added.
“If I have the time, I’ll also go to farmers’ markets and international grocery stores because they have certain ingredients that are way less expensive compared to regular grocery stores,” Moncel told MONEY.
You haven’t checked what you’re spending on subscription services in a while.
You’re probably spending more on digital subscriptions thank you think.
In fact, 84% of Americans grossly underestimate how much they spend on tech subscriptions, according to consulting firm Waterstone Management Group.
If you want to cut back on your subscription services, MarketWatch suggests cancelling services you haven’t used within the past month or split services among your friends.
You buy your produce pre-cut.
Buying pre-cut vegetables and fruits may save you time in the kitchen, but you’re paying for that convenience and packaging.
“They will up that price as much as possible,” Amiyrah Martin, blogger at Four Hats and Frugal, told MONEY Magazine. “People are coming in because they really need [a product] – they’re trying to save time, but they’re actually spending way more money.”
You’re buying non-food items at grocery stores.
Buying your plates and pans at Kroger could be another way you may be unknowingly spending more than you need to.
Grocery stores can be a great place to find discounts on veggies and produce, but the shops overcharge on non-food items like housewares, soap, and diapers to appeal to shoppers’ impulse.
Martin suggests waiting to buy housewares on IKEA or Home Goods: “I highly suggest people just wait; get your food and go to a store that specialises in housewares and you’ll save a ton of money if you do that,” she told MONEY.
You’re buying premium gasoline.
If you’re constantly buying premium gas, you’re wasting money without knowing it.
Americans waste over $US2 billion annually on premium gas above 91 octane, according to a report by AAA. What’s worse: the cost of premium fuel has risen since 2009.
“Based on AAA’s testing, vehicles that only recommend premium gasoline can’t take full advantage of higher octane fuel and, as a result, the benefit that comes from upgrading to premium gasoline may not offset its high cost,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair, said in a statement.
You’re buying a bottle of water every day.
Attention water-bottle drinkers: Not only are you killing the planet, you’re wasting your money. A $US20 reusable bottle will save the average American $US6,180 after five years of use according to Penn State University. If you insist on picking one up every time you go to the store, you’re spending money unnecessarily.
“By switching to a reusable water bottle, Americans can save themselves thousands of dollars, help the environment by lowering the amount of plastic waste in the United States, and keep their families safer,” Penn State University stated in a blog post.
You’re taking long, hot showers.
The feel of hot water on your back in the wintertime may feel pleasant, but you’ll pay for it later.
In fact, heating water accounts for 12% of a household’s energy bill, according to the Department of Energy.
To save money and become more energy efficient, hop out of the shower quickly, use incandescent bulbs, and close the refrigerator when you ponder what to eat.
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