Overspending can be easy to do, though most people attempt to be as money conscious as possible to avoid debt or exceeding their budget. However, there are many common money wasters lurking in the background, waiting to silently strike at your finances. So, let’s work together to ditch the most common money wasters!
Rest assured, you’re not alone — the average American wastes approximately $18,000 per year — so don’t feel discouraged if you check every box on this list. Instead, it’s an opportunity to take a step back and recognize where you may be wasting money on unnecessary expenses and determine how to ditch those habits.
1. Unused Subscriptions or Memberships
With the ever-increasing number of subscriptions and memberships out there, it’s likely there are one or two (or even more) that have fallen to the wayside.
Netflix isn’t the only streaming giant anymore; there are close to 50 movie and television streaming services in North America alone. Perhaps you signed up for a limited time subscription to watch one show or movie, but now it sits unused. That’s anywhere from $10 to $50 coming out of your bank account every month depending on the service.
This can also apply to things like gym memberships. It’s important to consider how frequently you truly use the facility (rather than how much you’d like to) because even a cheap membership can cost you $15 or more per visit if you’re only going once a month or so. While we don’t discourage striving towards a workout schedule, if you will realistically underutilize your gym membership, perhaps consider exercising at home, outside, or through another avenue.
Unused services even extend to things like VIP retail memberships for one-time discount offers, monthly subscription boxes for food or clothing, and more.
2. Letting Food Go to Waste
How many people can say they’ve never watched a bag of lettuce go soggy, had to dump a half gallon of milk down the drain, or left last night’s dinner in the fridge for far too long? Spoiler alert: not many.
This is an extremely common money waster but one that can be pretty easily avoided with a bit of planning. When it comes to buying groceries, take a few minutes to decide exactly how much (or the closest estimate) and what kinds of food you or your family goes through in a week. While buying in bulk may save you some cents on the dollar upfront, that goes to waste when you have to throw the food out a couple weeks later.
Do you have a lot of leftovers that go uneaten as well? Lessen your portion sizes while cooking or stay on top of clearing out the fridge of expired foods so it’s easy to see what needs to be eaten. Another option is to put whatever you can in the freezer to keep it fresh longer.
3. Paying More for Convenience
Convenience stores are just that — convenient. But there is a trade off when it comes to how much you spend. Buying in bulk can be wasteful for fresh foods and produce but can save you money on nonperishable items or foods that have a much longer shelf life. For instance, purchasing a six or 12-pack of Coca-Cola can save you 30%-60% compared to purchasing a single can or bottle.
In addition, items that are packaged for convenience, such as a 20-pack of individually sealed Goldfish versus a 30-ounce box, will cost more for the extra packaging because it’s more expensive to produce. Convenience stores also charge more per item because they don’t purchase their goods at the same volume as grocery stores.
4. Minimum Credit Card Payments & Unnecessary Bank Fees
It goes without saying that you should pay the minimum payment on a credit card if that is all you can afford. However, if you are financially able to pay more at a time, this will save you from higher interest fees over a longer period. There are also balance transfer credit cards that offer a low introductory APR, some starting at 0%. If you are able to pay off your debt within the intro period, you can avoid interest fees completely.
Additionally, if you’re not already aware of it, figure out what your bank charges you in the form of fees. This can include checking or savings account fees and minimums, overdraft fees, ATM fees, and more. If you find that you’re getting hit with a lot of fees, see if your bank offers accounts with little to no monthly fees and research debit cards that either have ATM fee rebates or allow you to withdraw from a wide range of ATMs.
Take time to look at your expenses.
With just a few simple adjustments, it’s easy to avoid and ditch the most common money wasters. The most important steps you can take are to research the areas you might be overpaying and determine whether they are completely necessary — and if they fit into your budget! For more advice on saving money, we have bankers and financial advisors ready to help. Call us at 800-526-9127, or read more financial tips on our website.