Payday comes and then a few days later we wonder what happened to the money we just had. This can be puzzling sometimes, especially if you feel like you have a good handle of your finances. There are ways you waste money without thinking.
What I’ve found is that the culprit is usually those little things that add up over time. The key is to identify them and then come up with a plan to not let them rule your finances anymore.
7 Ways You Waste Money Without Thinking
Before we get started I wanted to share some of the money wasters you may run into. These are the common things that the average person spends money on. There is nothing wrong with any of these, in moderation. They can get out of hand fast though, I can personally tell you that.
It’s estimated that the average person will spend around $75,500 on fast food in their adult life. That is a lot of money to spend on something that isn’t even good for you. If you eat fast food a couple times a week, or more, odds are this is your biggest money waster.
How many times a week do you grab coffee? Whether it’s grabbing it to go, or meeting with a friend, coffee is a staple for many people. A great way to save money, and not give up your coffee, is to make it at home. This is a great list of copycat recipes you can make in your own home.
With so many different streaming apps and services the need for cable isn’t as high anymore. Having these options means that you can pay for what you truly watch, and avoid paying for the tons of channels you aren’t interested in.
The best part? You don’t even need to have a Smart TV to take advantage of this. With streaming sticks like Roku and Amazon Firestick you bring the streaming to your TV.
If you frequent buying things like magazine subscriptions, monthly boxes, gym memberships, etc., odds are you are taking a good chunk of your paycheck to pay for these each month. This activity we are getting ready to do will definitely expose you to the hard truth. Some options here are to either reduce the amount of subscriptions you have, or reduce how often you get them.
These are the sneakiest way to waste money, in my opinion, especially if you are a gamer. Whether you have a habit of upgrading to a pro version of an app, or you purchase game add-ons frequently, they all add up.
On A Whim Shopping Trips (mostly online):
If you are surprised at what comes on your doorstep because you’ve ordered so much, this one’s for you. The pandemic has definitely impacted how we shop.
Online shopping has seen a huge growth. The key here is to be mindful as you shop. If you don’t do that you are likely to fill up your virtual shopping cart with things you don’t even need.
Impulse buys at stores:
Do you ever stop to get gas and then walk out the store with a bunch of junk food? I do this more often than I’d like to admit.
It may not seem like a big deal, because you are only spending a few dollars at a time. As with everything else on the list, those small amounts lead to significant amount of money you waste without thinking.
Do you frequent any of these money wasters? Let’s find out.
Step 1: Find Your Money Wasters
Go to your bank statements and write down every transaction you’ve had for a period of time. You can decide this for yourself. I usually go for either a full month or my last paycheck.
If you already are in the habit of budgeting this will be a normal part of your routine. By doing this exercise you may surprise yourself about whether or not you truly stick to your budget.
Now that you have them written down you can examine them further to put them into categories.These would be bills, groceries, gas, eating out, coffee, shopping, etc…I’d recommend color coding them. It not only makes the next step easier, it makes a serious activity a little more fun.
After you have that done, make lists for each category. Write out each transaction and then note which ones are needs, like rent, gas, etc. Highlight the ones that are not needs, like subscriptions, fast food runs, etc…
Add up each highlighted transaction in each category. The top three to five, depending on how many categories you have, are your money wasters.
Step 2: Make A Plan & Take Action
Now that we have identified our money wasters, it’s time to figure out what we are going to do about them. How will we either reduce the amount we spend, or get rid of them completely? To do this you need to go one by one and examine the reasoning for you spending your money in those categories.
For example, do you eat out each day on your lunch break? To avoid this you can pack your lunch instead. A great tip is to meal prep a few days out so you can just grab it on your way out of the door.
You can start small with this if you need to. Challenge yourself to pack your lunch for two days next week, then add a day the week after. Soon packing your lunch won’t even be a second thought, but a normal part of your routine.
Here is another example for you. If you have a bad habit of buying in-app purchases, find out which ones you frequent. You can either delete the app or take off the automatic payment.
That way you have to think a little more as you are filling your card information out, instead of impulsively buying. The key here, and in any of your money wasters, is to figure out why you are buying these things and interrupt the routine of buying them. Then, you’ll be able to catch yourself before you waste money without thinking.
I hope this challenged you, in a good way, to examine your spending habits and make a change.