25 Things You're Probably Wasting Money On

Author: Daniel B. Kline | April 02, 2019

A surgeon holding a one dollar bill with surgical forceps.

Source: Getty Images

1 of 26

Value every dollar

Even people with budgets waste money. Sometimes you make dumb decisions or you buy things because you can afford them without thinking about price. It's easy, however, for most people to increase how much they save by looking a little deeper.

Previous

Next

Close up of a gas pump at a gas station.

Source: Getty Images

2 of 26

1. Gas

Do you go the most convenient station or do you plan your gas purchases so you buy when you're near the cheapest one? Gas prices can vary by a lot -- maybe $0.20 or even more -- between the cheapest and most-expensive spots in the same area. Cut $0.10 per gallon on 10 gallons a week and that's an easy $52 you don't spend while not sacrificing anything.

Previous

Next

Man watching a streaming series on a laptop while laying in bed.

Source: Roku

3 of 26

2. Streaming services

Do you really watch every service you pay for every month? Most streaming companies let you pause your subscription or cancel it and join again with no penalties. At around $10 per service, the dollars can add up, and why pay for things you're not actually using?

ALSO READ: Why Apple Won't Be the Next Netflix

Previous

Next

Hands holding up a fast food burger.

Source: Getty Images

4 of 26

3. Food delivery

We're not telling you not to get food delivered. Instead, you should check all your options. Many markets have multiple companies competing for the same consumers and some are willing to offer better deals -- even free delivery -- to get you to switch. Don't just reflexively use the same service each time. Shop around and see which company offers the best prices.

Previous

Next

Man pushing a shopping cart with items inside.

Source: Getty Images

5 of 26

4. Delivery take two

Popular delivery services and grocery chains sometimes mark up items when they're ordered for delivery. The numbers can be significant on heavier products including alcohol and soda. Check what you're paying and what you would pay in store. If the added expense is significant, maybe it's better to not opt for delivery.

Previous

Next

A row of unlabeled bottled water.

Source: Getty Images

6 of 26

5. Water

In some markets bottled water is a necessity. That does not mean you can't save a few dollars. Shop around. You might be paying $5.99 a case for a name brand and can cut that to $3.99 for a store brand or a generic. If the taste is different in a bad way, then shop around and find the cheapest option you actually like.

ALSO READ: How to Save Money: A Step-by-Step Guide

Previous

Next

Person hands car keys to man sitting inside a car.

Source: Getty Images

7 of 26

6. Car insurance

You need car insurance, but you don't need to stay with the same company year after year just because it's easy. You can save money -- maybe hundreds of dollars -- by shopping around in many cases.

Previous

Next

A man and a woman negotiate at a car dealer

Source: Getty Images

8 of 26

7. Your car itself

Paying off your car loan is not the sign that you need to buy a new car. If yours still works and it needs no major repairs keeping it longer saves you a car payment  -- likely at least $200 -- each month.

Previous

Next

Two cups of coffee.

Source: Getty Images

9 of 26

8. Coffee

It's the biggest personal finance cliche in the world to compute how much money you can save by not spending $5 or more per day on fancy lattes. We're not telling you to do that. Instead, consider whether you actually enjoy what you're buying.

If you can skip some, that's great. A smaller size or cheaper drink saves money too. Don't deny yourself an inexpensive pleasure, just make sure you're actually enjoying it relative to the dollars spent.

ALSO READ: Starbucks Increasing Its Environmental Commitment

Previous

Next

Someone using the Uber app on their smartphone.

Source: Uber

10 of 26

9. Wireless service

Do you price out the cheapest carrier every year? Have you considered not using one of the big four? If you haven't, then you are probably paying more than you need to for service for your smartphone.

Previous

Next

The inside of an airplane with passengers in the seats

Source: Getty Images

11 of 26

10. Airfare and hotels

When you travel, sometimes being willing to alter your travel plans by a few hours can mean hundreds in savings. If you're willing to shift days, the numbers can be even greater.

When it comes to hotels, it's important to shop around. Use Priceline to see if you might save money with a blind bid or "Express" deal -- an offer where you know the price and star level but not the name of the hotel. 

Previous

Next

Professionals eating outdoors on a patio.

Source: Getty Images

12 of 26

11. Eating out

We're not saying don't eat out (though doing so less will save you money). Instead, consider whether you need the appetizer or are ordering it because it's there. The same is true of dessert and what you order for your entrée. If you'll be happy with the pasta or the burger, don't get the lobster. You'll still enjoy yourself while spending a little less.

ALSO READ: With Restaurant Traffic in Decline, Add These 3 Stocks to Your Watchlist

Previous

Next

Elderly man using an ATM.

Source: Getty Images

13 of 26

12. Service fees

Your bank probably doesn't charge you for using ATMs within its network (if it does, consider getting another bank). That's not true for ATMs not located in the network and those fees can be a few dollars to a lot more. Do you want to spend $6 for access to your money just because you're in a casino? You probably knew you were going, so you should have planned (or stopped on the way) to avoid paying for access to cash.

Previous

Next

Two drinks are being poured into glasses at a bar.

Source: Getty Images.

14 of 26

13. Drinking in bars

You can buy a $12 drink or a $20 bottle of the same liquor. There's a huge markup on alcohol and it's one you should be wary of paying. Have a drink or two with your friends, but be aware that you could have many more (over time) for less money if you indulge at home.

Previous

Next

A man watches a blue screen on a TV.

Source: Getty Images

15 of 26

14. Cable

It costs around $100 on average for cable and many people pay double that. You can get a live streaming package and add a popular streaming service for under $50. Clinging to cable because you have always had it is simply wasting money.

ALSO READ: Why I Finally Cut the Cord With Cable

Previous

Next

Two moviegoers share popcorn.

Source: Getty Images

16 of 26

15. Fancy movies

Did you really enjoy the 3D showing that cost 50% more or did you go just because the showtime was convenient? Yes, various special screens can enhance some movies. If you're seeing a huge action film, the added cost may be worth it. In most cases, however, it's just paying more for something you never wanted to begin with.

Previous

Next

A white Nike sneaker.

Source: Nike

17 of 26

16. Sneakers

Are your sneakers functional or a fashion statement? A collectible or something you wear for walking and exercise? 

If you are not a collector, you can save money on sneakers. Department stores including Kohl's have name brand sneakers at major discounts as do outlets operated by the sneaker company. Unless you're an athlete (and a pretty good one at that), having last year's model won't hurt your performance.

Previous

Next

A car with two passengers and the Lyft driver indicator in the front windshield.

Source: Lyft

18 of 26

17. Taxis

It's easy to jump in a cab line at the airport or outside a hotel. It's almost always cheaper to jump in an Uber or a Lyft even though it may be a little less convenient and a slightly longer wait.

Previous

Next

Hands using a smartphone.

Source: Getty Images

19 of 26

18. Your phone itself

The latest iPhone looks almost exactly like the previous model. It has better specs and a faster processor, but most people won't notice the difference yet still pay to upgrade. It makes sense to buy a phone and keep it for at least a year after you have paid it off. It's also not crazy to buy a lower-end model that still meets your needs (and pay a couple hundred dollars rather than over $1,000).

Previous

Next

A shopper makes an online purchase with a credit card.

Source: Getty Images

20 of 26

19. Impulse buys

The internet makes it really easy to buy things. That can be a good thing or it can be dangerous. You might see a great price on something you want but don't need, and a few clicks later it's yours.

Try to slow down your online purchases by walking away from them for a bit or running them by another person. Time and perspective can lead to less boxes showing up filled with items you don't really need. 

Previous

Next

Young boy with arm raised in celebration while playing a video game on the couch.

Source: Getty Images

21 of 26

20. In-game purchases

Yes, the Fortnite skin your child wants may only cost a few bucks but games are now full of micro-purchase opportunities. Consider what you're buying. Does paying open up a new section of the game that gives you additional hours of fun or is it just something cosmetic? Perhaps, more importantly, is spending money a shortcut that actually makes it so you play the game less?

Previous

Next

A man stands beside a tree growing money.

Source: Getty Images

22 of 26

21. Utility bills

Money, as your parents probably put it, does not grow on trees. For some reason, that line was always used when an adult who pays the bills asks a child who doesn't to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

Even in today's internet-driven smart world, that's still smart advice (unless you have already automated the process). Electricity costs money and turning off lights keep bills in check.

Previous

Next

Rows of colored batteries.

Source: Getty Images

23 of 26

22. Batteries

Most people wait until they need batteries before buying them. That can lead to frustration (having to go to the store in order to use a TV remote) and it's also a bad way to buy batteries.

Batteries tend to fall in price when you buy more of them and prices can vary wildly between different stores. Figure out what sizes you normally need and what you should have on hand for an emergency then shop around for the best deal.

Previous

Next

Shoppers pick up items at the grocery

Source: Getty Images

24 of 26

23. Groceries

Do you check for every available coupon? Are you price checking on common items? It's hard to get every discount offered, but many people don't even grab the low-hanging fruit.

Previous

Next

A blurred photo of an aisle in a warehouse retailer.

Source: Getty Images

25 of 26

24. Warehouse clubs

Joining a warehouse club can be a way to save money. It can also be a way to buy large quantities of items that you end up not using. If you join one, be meticulous in how you use it. Avoid impulse buys (you probably don't really need a wet suit) and shop with a list as well as an understanding of your usage habits. 

Previous

Next

Gifts under tree with gold ball decorations.

Source: Getty Images

26 of 26

25. Gifts

Do you give meaningful gifts that the other person wants, or do you buy something that simply meets the obligation? There are times when the latter is the only option. When it comes to close friends, family, and children, however, you can focus on giving meaningful experiences.

Those can be expensive or they can be an investment of time. Make sure you put some thought into your gift giving, that way even if you spend more money at least it won't be wasted.

ALSO READ: 5 Money Lessons I Wish I'd Learned When I Was Younger

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Previous

Next