10 Wasteful Spending Habits You Can Easily Change

wasteful spending habits

Money doesn’t grow on trees. And if you’re like most people, you probably work very hard for what you have. You would think then that most would pay close attention to their spending habits to preserve as much of their hard-earned capital as possible.

You would think.

There are many common things that people tend to overpay on. Good news: Once you identify those things, you can very easily change those wasteful spending habits and realize some quick savings.

Here are 10 things you may be wasting money on:

1Buying Name Brand Products

You can really save big by buying generic or store brand products instead of name brand groceries and other merchandise. In many cases, the generic products are just as good as the name brands, without the higher prices.

2Overspending on Car Insurance

When was the last time you shopped around for car insurance? If it’s been a few years, you might want to get quotes from a few agencies to check out the current rates.

Don’t forget to get quotes from some of the online insurance companies. The fact that they don’t have local offices is the main reason why their prices are as low as they are. The primary difference is you have to call a customer service rep instead of visiting an agent in person if you have a problem or need to file a claim.

3Unused Gym Memberships

Here’s a crazy thing about gym memberships: only about one-fifth of all people who have them actually use them on a regular basis.

If you’re one of the many who got a gym membership with the best of intentions but then got distracted by life and mostly forgot about it, you’re basically throwing your money away. Before you cancel a gym membership, however, check to see if you are under contract. In some cases, it may be cheaper to ride out the contract than to cancel the membership right away.

If you do want to get some exercise on occasion but aren’t sure if a gym membership is something you’ll use on a regular basis, consider an alternative like bike riding, yoga, or walking.

4Overspending at Restaurants

There’s nothing wrong with eating out on occasion. We all do it. It’s a great way to enjoy a relaxing evening. But too much of a good thing can get expensive in a hurry.

Prepared meals are considerably more expensive than meals you make yourself. And if you eat out several times a week, it can really add up. It’s possible to spend a few thousand dollars on restaurants in a year without even realizing it.

If you do eat out several times a week, why not run an experiment and keep track of how much you spend on meals for a couple of weeks or a month. If you are surprised by the total, consider cutting back. You could also create an entertainment budget for restaurants and other things to help keep your spending in check.

5Your Cellphone Plan

A common money pit for many is their cell phone plan. It’s easy to buy into the idea that you have to have a large plan – much more than you may need – because overage fees can get expensive in a hurry.

Instead of going with a major carrier that forces you to sign a lengthy contract and hits you with expensive overage charges, why not go with a carrier that only charges for your usage, like Ting?

Ting charges in blocks of usage. Instead of charging overage when you exceed 500 minutes of talk time, for example, Ting just bumps you up to the 1,000-minute block for that billing cycle. Pretty neat, eh?

Ting charges a small fee for each line you have. Talk, text, and data are available. And you aren’t charged at all for a service if you don’t use it. If you don’t text in a billing period, for example, you aren’t charged for texting.

Ting does not require a service contract, and it may be possible to use a mobile device you already own for even more savings.

6Buying New Vehicles

A brand new car starts to lose value the moment you drive it off the lot. Cars are depreciating assets. In accounting speak, that means they go down in value instead of up. There are some exceptions to this, of course, like some rare collectibles, but most vehicles do not retain their value.

Here’s something about new vehicles you really should consider: New vehicles depreciate at a much faster rate than those that are a few years old. New vehicles go down in value an average of 19 percent in the first year alone. That’s a lot. If you buy a $30,000 vehicle, for example, you can estimate it being worth about $24,300 after a year.

You can save a bundle by buying gently used vehicles with low mileage that are at least a couple of years old. Just let someone else take the financial hit while you enjoy the financial savings.  

7Buying Fancy Vehicles

Why do we own vehicles? It’s to have a means of transportation to safely get us where we need to go. That’s it. Why then do so many spend a lot of money on mobile status symbols?

Vehicles are expensive enough without paying thousands extra for something fancy to be seen in. Unless you live in a small town where everyone knows everyone else, then it’s not going to matter anyway. Most people you see on the roads don’t care what you drive. They are usually concerned with their own affairs – like reaching their destinations.

8Not Unplugging Your Electronics

There are many electronic devices in homes that continue consuming power when turned off. When in standby mode they never completely power down, and this can really increase your monthly electricity bill – often dramatically.

Some of the most common culprits of standby energy usage are cable boxes, DVRs, desktop computers and accessories, and audio systems. As a general rule of thumb, any electronic device that has a clock or is operated by a remote is suspect.

You can very easily put a stop to this by simply pulling the plug on your devices if you know you are going to be away for a while.

9Buying Premium Gasoline

Many buy premium gasoline for their vehicles in the belief that it will make their cars run better. But this isn’t necessarily the case. If your vehicle was designed for regular gasoline and you fill the tank with premium, you are most likely overspending on fuel.

Different engines were designed for fuels with different octane ratings. And the best type of fuel for your vehicle is the one recommended in the owners manual.

10Always Buying New

New things are nice – there’s no question about it. But you pay a premium for the privilege of being the first to own something. You can save big by buying many items used. Just check Craigslist, your local flea market, or a local trade publication for some great bargains.

The Savings Add Up

A few dollars in savings here and there may not sound like anything to get excited about, but the savings can add up fast. It’s about the total savings, not the individual savings on each purchase.

You work hard for your money. Shouldn’t you also work just as hard to protect it?  

Cyrus Vanover

Cyrus Vanover is a freelance business writer who helps marketing managers position their companies for success.Based in Virginia, he enjoys hiking the local trails, exploring new restaurants, and live theater when not writing. You can learn more about him here.

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