Sometimes, when looking at our bank accounts at the end of the week, we clap our hands to our foreheads and wonder what we spend money on. Scrolling through to find one big purchase, we usually only find instead a long line of very small purchases. That’s the power of impulse buying: the few purchases here and there that can really add up.
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The Biggest Waste of Money: Some Possible Suspects
What you’re wasting money on really depends on your own spending habits, but here are some common ways that many Americans end up wasting, and possible ways you are too:
- Cigarettes: It’s no secret that smoking is a costly habit, but some people smoke so much that, if they quit, they might not even need a second job or could afford a much larger apartment. Use the cost-of-smoking calculator to see how much you could save.
- Bottled Water: Ignoring the fact that it results in beaches covered in bottles and seabirds with stomachs full of bottle caps, bottled water is just terrible for your wallet. What is a free or very cheap daily cost quickly becomes hundreds of dollars. Get a steel container!
- Unused Memberships: Make sure you’re actually using that gym membership. You’ll be spending at least a hundred dollars at the end of the year, no matter how good of a deal you have.
- Morning Coffee: For those of us who are daily drinkers, making coffee at home is one of the best ways to save money, dropping daily costs from dollars to cents.
- Spoiled Food: It’s estimated that 30-40% of all U.S. food will become waste. UNEP also reports that every year, consumers of industrialized countries waste so much food that it’s almost as much as sub-Saharan Africa’s entire food production.
- Eating Out For Lunch: Packing your lunch is another one of the easy ways to save money. Not only is it better for your overall health, it can help you save. Also, avoid that vending machine!
When to Not Spend Money: The Impulse Buy
When asking yourself, “Where do I waste money?” consider not just your big purchases and subscriptions, but your bad habits. When do you get so mentally exhausted that you just don’t want to make one more decision? That’s exactly when these purchases somehow still happen. It takes a surprising amount of conscious awareness to survive clever marketing without purchasing an extra cereal box, a crate of cookies, or a pack of gum at checkout, but these items add up too.
If you’ve lost your way and ended up spending $20 more than you intended to, you’re not alone. Actually, the temptation at checkout has impacted the country’s nutrition as a whole. It’s a huge problem that has doctors and lawmakers considering taking different actions against the industry.
Taking a moment to research your grocery purchases can save hundreds of dollars in the long-term. Do you like candy bars? Buy them in bulk and parse them out slowly over time. Reward yourself when you get home and finish unpacking instead!
How Much You Can Save: Reducing Wasteful Purchases
Crunching the numbers, you can save a great deal by simply reducing your in-store coffee purchases from daily ($689.85 for a typical cup) to weekly ($98.28). Cutting out a daily water bottle purchase at your job can save you $547.50 at the end of the year. Ignoring that candy bar in the checkout aisle can save you enough to buy a really nice pair of shoes ($64.68) by the end of the year. Out of all the money saving tips out there, cutting out little buys over time is a simple and effective one.