We’ve all been there – you look at your checking account and realize you have little to show for your spending. Furthermore, you have a week until you receive your next paycheck.
Many of us have been there at one time or another, or you may even be currently facing it. You know you need to stop the bleeding, but don’t know where to begin. Here are ten common ways many people waste money, and where you can look to get back on track.
Table of Contents
Avoiding Meal Planning
Reports indicate that Americans waste 40 percent of food annually. When you throw food away, it’s literally like throwing money away.
There are various ways to stop this. Shop your pantry before going to the store. Use meal planning to schedule out dinners. Eat leftovers.
Combined, you can add hundreds back to your budget each month.
Not Using Coupon Apps When Grocery Shopping
Clipping coupons takes time, and it’s easy to overlook. However, it can also save you cash.
Look no further than your phone for a solution. Most coupon apps are free to use, and you only need to take a picture of your receipt when you’re done shopping. The app identifies active rebates and credits your account.
Keeping Unused Subscriptions
When was the last time you analyzed the subscriptions you use? It’s likely you’re paying for something you’re not using.
Make it a practice to review your subscriptions quarterly and cut what you don’t use. That’s instant cash back into your budget.
Not Tracking Your Spending
Budget leaks are like a leak in your roof. Ignoring either can lead to significant trouble.
Use a free budgeting app to track your spending to see where you’re wasting cash. Then, stop the practice and apply the funds to other needs.
Not Getting Cash Back on Your Gas
It’s painful to fill up at the pump. Many people don’t realize you can use your phone to get cash back on gas.
Apps like Upside work similarly to grocery rebate apps. It works with participating gas stations to give you rebates on gas. You claim rebates and make your purchase.
The platform credits your account within several business days and you can withdraw earnings in cash or free gift cards.
Spending Too Much on Alcohol
Sure, a drink or two after a stressful day at work. Many of us do it, but it can also be an expensive habit. Reports indicate the average American spends over $800 annually on alcohol. That equates to roughly $65 a month.
However, if you’re among the 22 percent of individuals who binge drink you’re likely spending more. If you’re facing a budget crisis, this is one of the first things you should consider scaling back. Curtail your drinking to once a week and you may be able to free up some funds to go back into your checking account.
Keeping an Expensive Phone Plan
Do you like to use a lot of data on your phone? You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get what you want.
Prepaid phone plan providers offer unlimited data for as little as $25 a month. And they operate on towers from Verizon and AT&T with no contracts. Leave the legacy carrier and save big money.
It’s fun to eat out, but it’s expensive. Recent studies reveal the average American spends nearly $170 monthly dining out.
This is often one of the easiest things to cut from a budget. You don’t even have to go cold turkey, either. Slash it in half and the average person frees up $85 a month.
Buying Name Brand
Generic items often get a bad rap. People mistake generic items for being poor quality, or simply not as good as the name brand alternative.
What many people don’t realize is generic products are commonly made by the same people that make the comparable name brand. If you look when shopping at the grocery store, you’ll see that generics are typically 25 to 30 percent less than the brand name option. You may not enjoy all generic items, but identifying the ones you do like can easily stretch your shopping budget and save money.
Keeping Cable TV
There is little need for most people to keep cable TV. It’s nothing for people to spend $200, or even $300, monthly on cable.
Opt for a cable replacement and pocket the savings.
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I’m John Schmoll, a former stockbroker, MBA-grad, published finance writer, and founder of Frugal Rules.
As a veteran of the financial services industry, I’ve worked as a mutual fund administrator, banker, and stockbroker and was Series 7 and 63-licensed, but I left all that behind in 2012 to help people learn how to manage their money.
My goal is to help you gain the knowledge you need to become financially independent with personally-tested financial tools and money-saving solutions.