Being careful about how you spend your money isn’t about being frugal; it’s just common sense! But the marketplace is loaded with products that take advantage of people’s immediate urges. By being more conscious of these money-wasters, you’ll set yourself on the right path to saving your money for things you truly need. This list may help call to mind some items you’re probably best off avoiding.
1. Bottled Water
Aside from getting it straight from the tap, there are a number of ways you can access water without spending money on it. If the water you can get from the tap is low quality, you can consider a water jug delivery service. You can get in the habit of filling a reusable water bottle rather than purchasing bottles for one-time use.
2. Magazines and Newspapers
While it is important to be informed of the news that impacts your life and the world we live in, you can find the vast majority of this content available for free online. If you’re a regular reader of a magazine or newspaper and enjoy the print copy, be sure to purchase a subscription rather than picking up copies from newsstands.
Another way the Internet has changed media is how we watch movies and television entertainment. Subscription services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have become popular because they offer the same great content as DVDs, without the need to drive to a location to rent or purchase it. Unless you like a movie an incredible amount and watch it all the time, streaming it online is probably the most cost-efficient way to view it.
4. Regularly Dining Out
Going out for food is a nice treat from time to time. But to keep your budget in check, it should be considered just that — a nice treat. Aside from the obvious cost of paying extra for the food, tipping for service is a cost you can avoid once you get in the habit of preparing your own food.
5. Premium or Mid-Grade Gas
Unless your car requires it, premium gas isn’t worth the premium price. Researchers have found little or no difference when premium fuel was used in a car that didn’t require it. In one test, the performance of the car actually decreased.1 So save yourself the extra expense unless your car manual specifically calls for it!
6. Expensive Headphones
The cost of name brand headphones can be outrageous when compared to the vast amount of inexpensive options on the market. Even those with discernible hearing can’t tell much of a difference in sound quality between a $10 and $300 pair of headphones. Sure, noise cancellation can be nice from time to time. But is it really something you can’t get from a lower quality pair? What you may gain in those features isn’t worth the difference in price.
7. Coffee Shop Coffee
It’s no secret that the cost of the coffee you buy at a coffee shop is significantly more expensive than coffee you can brew for yourself. While the convenience and quality of these coffee drinks may seem worth the upcharge in the moment, the cost will really add up if made into a daily or regular habit. In the long-term, buying coffee from these coffee shops rather than brewing your own is just an unnecessary expense.
8. Brand Name Items
When it comes to household goods and basic food items, many brands are more expensive because they are perceived as better. But for many of these items, the quality of the product is negligible compared to generic or store-brand options. You should be aware of this when it comes to cleaning products — you may even be able to make substitutes with household items you already have at home!
9. Books You Won’t Re-Read
Similarly to magazines and newspapers, books are another form of media impacted by the growth of the digital world. In addition to checking out books at a good old-fashioned library, books are now available online as e-books, on tablet readers and as audio books through subscription services. Having a personal book collection is something that’s nice to have, but consider limiting it to books you can buy used. New books most of the time aren’t worth the money.
10. Lottery Tickets
While the allure of winning money can be tempting, there is no easier way to lose money than wasting it on lottery tickets (or other forms of gambling). One out of every three people in the U.S. thinks that winning the lotto is their only shot at becoming financially secure, but the odds of winning a state lotto are roughly 18 million to 1. Meanwhile, the odds of getting struck by lightning are significantly better at about 2.65 million to 1.2 You’d be much better off saving and investing those dollars!
1 Lindberg, R. (2012, March 5). Is it worth the money to buy premium gas? Retrieved July 31, 2015 from www.ksl.com/?sid=19422378
2 LearnVest. (2012, September 17). 8 things you could buy…that aren’t worth the money. Retrieved July 31, 2015 from www.learnvest.com/2012/09/8-things-you-could-buy-that-arent-worth-the-money/?gallery=582&pid=#pid-6906_aint-0