It’s the little things in life that make all the difference in the world. The same thing can be said about money. A few pennies here and there can quickly add up. Think about it this way: Ten cents times ten cents is a dollar. If you keep multiplying by ten you quickly reach 100.
Think you can’t save 10 cents on 10 items? We think otherwise. Here are some of the ways you’re wasting money, probably without even knowing it.
1. Using Gas Cards From Big Oil Companies
Sure, it’s convenient to charge your gas and to pick from a station on every corner, but you’re paying 20 cents extra per gallon, plus finance charges if you don’t pay off your bill at the end of the month (another way to waste money). By the time it’s all said and done, figure on paying upwards of 30 cents more per gallon than a so-called “cheap” station.
Related: Check out the best wealth management & personal finance apps reviewed here.
2. Not Finding Hidden Charges
They’re everywhere – lurking in your phone bill (surcharges) in your power bill (peak hour charges) and you’re bank accounts (minimum balance charges). The trick is to look at your bills, spot the hidden charges, then eradicate them so that you’re no longer wasting money on unnecessary fees. Here’s a great article on “cramming,” the process of sneaking hidden fees into your phone bill.
3. Having A Cell Phone Contract
These days there’s no reason to be paying hundreds of dollars per month for a cell phone. Yeah, it’s nice to get a free phone every year, but when you do the math it makes more sense to pay for that $500 phone upfront. Unlimited plans, such as StraightTalk’s, offer the same service at a fraction of the price.
Do you really need an appetizer, plus a house salad, plus the main entrée? Some restaurants even have entrees that could be split in two. Think about sharing a meal. Don’t be afraid to order an appetizer as your main meal because taking food home that sits in your fridge for a week is not only a waste of money, it’s a waste of good food.
5. Not Clipping Coupons
We’re not just talking about grocery stores. Be on the lookout for restaurant coupons and clothing store coupons. Sign up for the e-mail alerts. Some big-box stores even offer friends and family days where you can save up to 20 percent off everything in the store – on top of the normal discounts.
6. Buying “Specialty” Pet Food
Did you know that a lot of that “specialty pet food” has the same amount of protein as the cheaper box store food? A savvy pet owner can check the back of a bag to determine nutritional value. Here’s a quick and easy article to help you spot the best dog food for your money.
7. Carrying A Balance Forward
Psst. Here’s a secret. If you pay off your credit card every month, you won’t get smacked with finance charges. Sure, you might want to improve your credit score, and carrying a balance can help you with that, but why waste money if you don’t have to?
8. Skipping The Grocery Store Discount Sections
Look for butcher’s discounts. Every meat department has them. Find your store’s discount shelf. You’d be shocked to see what’s on sale for half-price. Shop at the discount outlets, such as the dollar store, for basic necessities like sandwich bags and aluminum foil.
9. Not Refinancing Your Mortgage
Don’t be afraid to refinance. Don’t waste cash by paying one cent more in interest than you have to pay. You can take a look at a list of mortgage refinances options here.
10. Buying New Wheels
We know you like to zoom around town in your spiffy sports car, but there comes a time when being reasonable makes more sense (and saves you cents). When you factor in fuel mileage and the cost of car insurance, not to mention the potential speeding tickets, you might be better off trading in your Corvette for a Coupe.
11. Tossing Your Recyclables
Hey. Those aluminum cans are worth something. So are your bottles. Throwing them away is like throwing away cash. Save the earth and stop wasting money at the same time.
12. Not Planning Your Meals
Plan your meals ahead of time. Take one meal and turn it into two. It’s easy to do with a dish like pot roast. Entrée one night, enchiladas the next.
13. Buying Brand Names
Why are you buying name-brand clothes when an ordinary pair of jeans will do? Do you really need that expensive brand of coffee? Why buy something new when you could find it at a garage sale? Wouldn’t you rather spend the cash you’re throwing away on a cool vacation instead?
14. Not Joining The Club
Sign up for your grocery store’s club card. Take advantage of the discounts offered at clothing stores by adding your name to their e-mail list. If you’re worried about being spammed, set up a new email account just for club cards. Every time you pay full price it is a complete waste of your hard-earned money.
15. Paying For Stuff With Credit
Many gas stations offer discounts for paying cash. Similarly, car dealerships do the same thing. Here’s an article on things you should always pay cash for.
16. Ignoring Your Monthly Statements
Don’t get complacent with monthly bills. Shop out your homeowner’s insurance every year. Review your bills on a regular basis. Don’t be a sucker for “cost creep,” a tactic used by companies to increase your bills slowly.
17. Running For The Border
Remember what we said up above? Ten times ten? Think about how quickly those ten-dollar trips to Taco Bell add up every month. Resist the urge. Save cash by packing around your own food and don’t waste cash at fast-food restaurants.
18. Not Applying Yourself
You’re letting cash fly out the window – literally – by not updating your appliances. Things like window fixtures, ovens and dryers cost a bit to upgrade, but they’ll pay for themselves eventually, and stop you from wasting cash along the way.
19. Paying For Basic Services
Dump your own garbage. Fetch your own propane. Haul in your own water. Just kidding! Seriously, you’re wasting tons of cash by paying for curb-side service. Haul your own stuff around.
20. Ignoring Fraternal Love
They’re called service organizations, or fraternal organizations. You might know them under the name of Veteran, Moose, and American Legion, and they all come with member perks. Most of the time it’s cheap to join, too. Here’s a list of organizations.
21. Remodeling Instead Of Refurbishing
Don’t throw out your old cabinets when a fresh coat of paint will do. And those old countertops? Slap a piece of granite on them instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. These days there’s no end to little tricks contractors can use to refurbish your old fixtures and make them look new. Don’t waste money on new when re-working the old will do.
22. Buying New
Don’t waste money on buying new electronic products. Cell phones, alarm systems, laptops, or even gaming systems. Box stores have gotten wise to reselling them all, often times with the same warranty as a new item, at a fraction of the price. Here’s all you need to know about buying refurbished.
23. Buying From Big Box Stores
You’d be surprised how much cheaper it is to buy that big blockbuster on Amazon or Ebay. Don’t be suckered in by the big box stores. Purchase electronics on-line and stop throwing your cash out the door.
24. Not Bargaining
This goes along with paying cash, but it really is true that most companies want your business. Don’t be afraid to threaten to take your business elsewhere. Tell a store manager you saw something cheaper elsewhere. Don’t waste money on a higher priced item just because it’s convenient to buy it right then. Ask the store to match the price. Go on – try it!
25. Too Many Gadgets
So you’re reading this article on a tablet. Bet you could have read it on your old laptop instead … and saved yourself $300 along the way. Resist the urge to go out and waste money on the latest electronic device. At the very least, wait a few months until the next generation comes along; that’s when you’ll find the best deals on so-called “older” models.
Whether it’s waiting to buy the latest cell phone or simply taking the time to review your monthly bills, we bet you’ll find many ways to stop wasting money. Take our advice; it’s easy to stop wasting money with a little help from your friends at SuperMoney.
Pamela is the author of thirty-eight romance novels with more coming out every year. She’s best known for her NASCAR romance novels, but writes non-fiction, too. Pamela’s a regular columnist for the American Quarter Horse “Journal” and writes for SuperMoney.com where she shares her personal finance tips on how to thrive in this economy.