Top Ways to Waste Money at Home

Top Ways to Waste Money at Home
Written by Irina Vasilescu

Do you feel like you’re working harder but earning less? You might belong to the small percentage of the population who is earning more than before, but considering the constantly increasing price of goods and services, the increase is for naught. When you combine such situations with the poverty rate, inflation, and other key factors, it is easy to say that saving money is a must.

The bad news is that not a lot of people are aware that they have plenty of every day or monthly habits which can be considered huge money wasters. In the following section, we will take a look at the top ways that individuals and families unintentionally waste money at home – and what can be done about it.

Top 15 Money Wasters at Home & How to Ditch the Habit

Money is something that people work so hard to earn. Since it doesn’t come easy, that’s more of a reason why you should eliminate those money-wasting habits. To give you an idea about exactly what these wasteful habits are, take a look at the following list:

1. Annual credit card fees

Most credit card companies offer the option of clients enjoying the first year without having to pay for an annual fee. For the succeeding years, however, you will be required to pay the annual fee. If you have good credit standing, you can actually negotiate with your bank to have this fee waived. Better yet, cancel all the other credit cards which you are not using and simply keep one or two for emergency expenses.

Another credit card-related money waster is carrying balances. If you are unable to pay the full amount of your credit card bill come the due date, you are not really doing a good job at managing your finances. You are simply giving your credit card company more profit by paying for interest, late fees and similar payments which are big money-wasters.

2. Appetizers when eating out

There’s absolutely nothing wrong in enjoying a good meal at nice restaurants every now and then, but you should not pay a higher bill than you have to. Most dining establishments offer big servings for their main course, so you can easily skip the appetizers. Besides, there’s always some dessert that you have to make room for, so you can cut back on the bill by saying no to appetizers.

3. Beverages

Bottled water, designer coffee, and soda are beverages which are huge money wasters. If you’re an office worker and you stop by a nearby coffee chain branch every day for fancy lattes or cappuccinos, that will cost you a lot of money on a yearly basis.

To save on your hard-earned bucks, why not simply brew your own coffee at home, or simply wait until you arrive at the office to enjoy a cup of joe? You can also ditch bottled water and soda by opting for natural juices and filtered water which you can easily get at home.

4. Bank fees

If you are withdrawing money from an ATM which is not owned by your bank, you will get an extra $3 to $5 fee. This amount eventually adds up, so it is best to look for a cash machine that will not charge you extra.

Another bank fee which is a total money waster is overdraft charges. To avoid this, all you need to do is add correctly and spend less than you make so you would not have to issue bounced checks.

5. Brand new items

Those who want to save a lot of money can make do with second hand or slightly used items. This can easily save you half or even a quarter of the original price. With sites like eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and all the others, you can easily purchase practically any item second hand.

6. Brand name items

For parents of babies and young kids, you do not really have to splurge on designer clothes for the little tykes. Remember that babies and kids have sudden growth spurts so the winter clothes that you bought for them last year may not fit anymore this year. When buying costumes and seasonal clothes, you can simply go to consignment stores or borrow from friends and relatives.

The same thing holds true for all the other designer brand items that you are buying for yourself or for the household. There are cheaper, generic items that you can purchase without having to sacrifice the quality and functionality of the product.

7. Convenience store items

Convenience stores and gasoline station stores tend to overinflate the prices of their items. The locations of these establishments may be very easy to reach, but if you constantly buy your snacks and other everyday items from them, you will be wasting a lot of money in the long run.

8. Deals on discount websites

Laser hair removals, discounted hotel rooms and travel deals are plentiful – but there are restrictions to the Terms and Conditions which a lot of buyers fail to meet.

For example, an online deal for 75% on a laser hair removal treatment may sound too good to pass up. But when you read the fine print, you will find out that you need to make reservations two weeks in advance and before you know it, the deadline is soon coming. If you must take advantage of such online deals, make sure to read the fine print so you won’t end up wasting money on an expired merchant offer.

9. Fast shipping

Unless you’re beating the holiday rush, it does not make sense to pay extra for fast shipping especially when buying items from online stores. Practice patience and wait for regular shipping to arrive so that you can save money.

10. Gym membership fees

After the holiday season, a lot of people find out that they have gained extra weight so they impulsively sign up for pricey gym memberships. Unless you have the time and patience to commit to a full-fledged gym workout, paying for this fee might as well be a big money-waster for you.

11. Insurance premiums

Insurance plans are a must, but there’s no reason for you to overpay for the monthly premiums. The competition in the industry is stiff enough for customers to have plenty of choices. If you feel that you’re paying too much on health, life, car, home or any other type of insurance plan, you can always switch.

It also pays to consider umbrella plans where you will be getting all your insurance policies from one provider to take advantage of discounts. Yearly, review your premiums and ask for discounts so that you can save money without sacrificing the comprehensiveness of the coverage.

12. Mobile phone calling, text or data plans

Depending on whether you use mobile browsing a lot or if you’re a frequent texter or caller, you might be paying too much on your mobile phone plan. If you only use the most basic services, consider getting pre-paid calling plans or ditch your mobile phone altogether. If you do use mobile browsing a lot, look for plans which will give you unlimited data without having to pay too much for the privilege.

13. Premium cable or satellite TV subscriptions

If you have Internet connection at home, there’s really no reason to pay extra for premium cable or satellite TV subscriptions. You can always have those amazing cable shows streamed for a minimal fee.

14. Services that you can perform yourself

If you need an oil change, if the kids have a craft project that they need to finish or if you want to sew a costume, you can always go online and look for videos with step-by-step instructions. With plenty of DIY help online, you won’t have to pay extra for services that you can perform yourself.

15. Unhealthy habits

Finally, smoking and drinking are unhealthy habits which are huge money wasters. Although there’s nothing wrong in enjoying a good drink every now and then to unwind, it does not mean that you should spend a fortune for it. Check out which watering holes hold happy hours so that you can enjoy drinks with friends at a fraction of the price.

You should also consider quitting smoking if you haven’t already done so. In the US, the average price of a cigarette pack is around $7 – but the health-related costs that you would have to pay for later on is $35. This figure is from the American Cancer Society. Instead of spending thousands of dollars per year on nicotine, you can quit, save money and enjoy a healthier lifestyle all at the same time.

Taking Control of Your Finances

Now that you already have an idea about the top money wasters at home, you can do something to prevent such wastage. If there’s one thing that you should not be pouring down the drain, that is none other than those hard-earned cents and dollars. You already have an idea about the culprit money wasters so you know exactly what to do about them. The final step to take is taking full control of your finances.

If you have a big family and you know that everybody is doing their share in committing the aforementioned money-wasting mistakes, gather everyone together and tell them the steps that you can all take together to put your finances back in order. The same thing applies for those who are living alone.

It may take a lot of self-control to curb those retail therapy temptations, but you will get used to it eventually. Setting short-term and long-term financial goals will definitely help in putting some order into your finances.

You should also be a conscientious instead of an impulsive buyer. If you have some extra money which you are tempted to spend on a luxury item, give yourself a couple of days to think it over. You might be surprised at how you will realize later on that you can live without such a pricey splurge.

If you have kids, you should prioritize saving up for their college and your own retirement. You’ll never know what will happen in the future so it pays to have an emergency fund set aside for unexpected expenses.

All in all, taking full control of your finances is all about eliminating all the money wasters and practicing enough self-discipline to manage your finances better.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.


  • My family and I use to be really guilty of wasting money at home. We’ve fixed that and I have to agree with a lot of the tips mentioned above.

    We cut the our cable and took out a membership with Hulu and Netflix. Fifteen dollars versus eighty dollars make a major difference in our checkbook.

    Buying used is also a great tip. I buy the majority of my clothes at secondhand and thrift stores – and I’ve been able to find brand new items on several occasions.

    Currently, I use a prepaid phone because I don’t go through a lot of minutes. If I buy a 60 minute airtime card it will last me for 90 service days. The phone I have offers a triple-minute benefit which is really helpful. So if I add a 60 minute card it actually becomes a 180 minute card. Tracfone also offers promo codes that give bonus minutes.

  • Great tips all around! I especially like the tip about skipping drinks. When I really thought about it, I was spending so much on coffee and juice! And I had a perfectly good juicer and coffee maker to boot.

    I’ll try bringing my own water everywhere too. Just gotta find my old tumbler. 🙂

  • I find one of the biggest areas that people waste in the home is food. Food is a huge part of our expenses and one of the easiest areas to save. I pay as little as I can, by combining sales and coupons, but cutting waste saves the most. Pay attention to how much food you’re tossing out every week when you clean out the fridge on trash day. It might shock you, so be prepared! If you can cut that waste or eliminate it entirely, you’ll be amazed at the savings.

  • Credit card fees are the worst. I hated them. If you’re planning on applying for credit cards stop right there! Think about it first, do you really need it? Also if you need to, apply for only one card and not have so many that you can’t keep track of.

  • Great post. I really love that you mention credit card fees. I absolutely hate credit cards. I even refuse to use my debit card as credit if I have the option. I believe these cards are just a ploy to get you to spend money you don’t have. However, while I do not like them — there is something to be said about the fact that if used in a SMART way they can be a tool to build your credit. If you apply for a new credit card – ignore the limit. You are in no way obligated to spend $500 a month. Instead, once or twice a month make a purchase with your credit card that you would have made in cash (e.g, filling your gas tank or purchasing a few household items.) and then turn around and pay it immediately while you still have that cash in hand. It ensures that your bill is paid off, there is no interest and your credit will be reported in a very positive way!

  • I’m personally definitely guilty of some of these, mostly because of the comfort of which it gives me.

    At least I don’t have a credit card! I actually got a completely free upgrade from my last bank card by my bank and my current card is a mastercard which lets me do everything a credit card would except shop on credit, which is just great! And I’m pretty sure I don’t pay anything for it as a matter of fact.

    Great read, good tips!
    Thanks. 🙂

  • Very true, I don’t know how often I got screwed because I tried something – insurance or credit card – that had a first year of no fee, and then forgot to cancel it when it turned out I did not want it anymore! Urgh. That was such a useless waste of money!

    But to be fair, about appetizers — they are really pleasant to share, and sometimes very unique. I usually skip on them, sure. But I also usually skip on the dessert! Four bucks for a slice of cake is also way overpriced!

  • This is a nice comprehensive list of ways to cut wasteful spending. One thing I would add, is when eating out, you could skip the entrees and each get an appetizer, especially if you’re planning to get dessert anyway, or split an entree, since they’re often over-sized. I usually end up getting my own entree anyway, because I love the leftovers, it’s another meal I don’t have to cook, that I know I’m going to enjoy. Also, if you simply must have bottled water, when you do your grocery shopping, buy extra, and take them to the office with you.

  • That’s absolutely true and it’s very interesting. The title attracted me because it was about ways to waste money, which means we need to avoid the very arguments that are set out here. I know I am guilty of a lot of it, especially internet stuff and contracts and plans that I really need to get rid of because I could get a better alternative.

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