Have you ever taken a serious look at your spending and noticed any trends or habits you weren't too happy about? Maybe it's that $5 coffee you get every day on your way to work, or perhaps you've wasted money buying more luxury items than your budget can handle. We all have our bad money habits, but it's essential you do your best to cut expenses and save money when possible.
A personal finance study asked 2,000 people across the United States to share their two cents about the various ways they wasted money, and the results were very interesting! The study was done across different categories and age groups, yet there were similar patterns of wastefulness.
Below, I will share some tips to combat this wastefulness that will hopefully help you reduce overspending and save some money!
1. Eating out
70% of people admit to wasting money on eating out. That is most of us! And it's no surprise because the majority of us tend to eat out at work. One way to curb this is by looking at your schedule ahead of time and planning accordingly.
For instance, if you have dinner one night, you may want to consider taking breakfast and lunch to work that way, you are not eating three meals out in one day. Also, eating out for lunch is usually cheaper than dinner, so you may consider planning to eat out around lunchtime as opposed to dinner.
Another way to curb eating out so much is by meal planning on a budget. Pinterest has tons of really excellent meal planning ideas that you can change up each week, so you never have to take a boring lunch to work ever again. You can create meal planning challenges with your co-workers too. The great thing about meal planning is that it helps you eat better since you are planning in advance. Check out our 30-day meal planning challenge to help you get started.
2. Uneaten or expired food
Ever find that you go to the grocery store and buy all this food, but then you end up eating out so much that most of it goes uneaten or ends up expired? Expired food equals wasted money; you are literally throwing your money in the trash. Again your solution here - meal planning.
Also, when you plan out your meals, you'll get a better idea of how much you should be buying and what your leftovers will be like and so you can freeze stuff. When you freeze food, it lasts well over the expiration date, which means you'll have less wasted food.
3. Grocery items
Can you say meal planning again? You want to plan out your meals for the week before heading out to the grocery store and plan your spending according to your grocery budget. You also want to make sure to go to the grocery store with a full belly and with a list of items you want to buy, this way, you don't get sidetracked.
Better yet, if online grocery shopping is an option for you, take advantage of it. Sometimes the $5 or $10 delivery fee is much less than what you would otherwise pay for groceries due to the extra unplanned items you might end up adding to your cart each time you visit the grocery store.
4. Credit card interest
Credit card interest is how the credit card companies make money and how you stay in debt. Ever feel like you aren't making a dent in your debt even though you are making payments religiously every month?
Well, making only the minimum payments on your credit debt will do this. The way to combat it? Pay more than the minimum each month. Pay as much as you can towards your credit card balances every single month until you can eventually pay them off. In other words, get aggressive. Check out these 10 quick tips to reduce credit card debt.
5. Alcohol or drinking
Alcohol costs a lot of money, especially at restaurants and bars - the mark up is ridiculous, it's more than ridiculous, it's crazy. My advice, if you are seriously trying to save money and have to drink out, stick to one glass or avoid it completely. Rather than regretting another night of wasted money, have your friends over and enjoy an evening in.
6. Streaming services
Streaming services make sense if they are in replacement of something, for instance, Netflix replacing cable. However, if you are paying for streaming services just to have them or just to watch certain shows and you find yourself with Cable plus Netflix plus Hulu etc., and you are trying to save money, then this really is a waste of money, and it's time to cancel some of those services.
7. Entertainment and hobbies & activities
Entertainment, hobbies, and activities can be costly, add in kids, and the costs can skyrocket. To save money, think of free things to do; Pinterest is a great "go-to" for me (can you tell?) because it has tons of ideas; all you have to do is search using the word "Free" at the beginning of your search term. You can also find free or low-cost things to do in your city. Simply type "free things to do" followed by the name of your city on Google.
Trends come, and trends go - and clothes really are not a worthwhile investment at all. That being said, buy quality over quantity, plan out your wardrobe, and think cost per wear. You can also save a bundle by shopping pre-owned on sites such as Poshmark or hitting sales and shopping the clearance racks too.
9. Cell phone bills
Have you called your cell phone company to find out if there's a cheaper plan lately? Cell phone service and data rates are so competitive these days there's always some special offer going on. Plan to call every six months or so to see if you can get a better rate. It never hurts to try.
10. Tech gadgets
Every few months there is a new must-have tech gadget out such as phones, smartwatches, and headphones. In fact, the average American spends $1,200 a year on electronics. Talk about some serious wasted money! You can save a ton of money purchasing gadgets and electronics used on sites such as Facebook Marketplace or at secondhand shops. For new items shop blowout sales and discounted items to save a bundle.
You can stop wasting money
Maybe you know you've wasted money but aren't quite sure how much and how often it happens. You can start keeping a spending journal to track exactly where your money is going. By taking initiative and learning how to curb your spending, you can stop wasting money and work towards your financial goals instead!