Are you struggling to make ends meet? Are you trying to make a budget but unsure where your money is disappearing? At least a dozen very common purchases are wasting your precious money every week. Keep reading to see if you can keep more money in your checking account by clearing these purchases or habits away.
1. Brand-Name Products
Brand-name products charge you a premium for products that are sometimes, quite literally, the same item with different labeling. And sometimes, companies confident in your loyalty will raise the price absurdly high on a flimsy excuse.
If you’re a loyalist to Cheez-Its or Coca-Cola in aluminum cans, look at the store brand’s price difference. Try the cereal in a resealable plastic bag instead of the kind that comes in a box. You can save a lot by choosing the Kirkland or Kroger Big K versions instead of wasting money on brand-name products.
2. In-Game Purchases
When you’re playing the weekly tournament on your game app, getting that next achievement might FEEL important. That momentary serotonin rush won’t make you happier or more accomplished in the long run. It’ll just nickel-and-dime your bank account.
$2 or $5 might not feel like much at the moment, but if you give in to the pressure of these “freemium” games, you’ll be spending more than $100 a year on them in no time. Delete the apps from your phone or disable in-game purchases.
3. Coffeehouse Drinks
In 2022, the price of a cup of coffee from a cafe or coffeehouse jumped more than 7 percent. That means it’s almost $5 just for a cup of coffee that you could easily make yourself. The Espresso School in Melbourne, Australia, says you can save more than $1,000 a year just by making your own coffee or lattes.
And think, if you make it yourself, you can buy sustainable, high-quality coffee beans and customize your drink perfectly. You’ll never be disappointed after the first sip again, and your checking account will thank you.
4. Fast Food
Americans, we are all at fault here. According to Eatpallet, a Utah-based food and restaurant publication, Americans spend a full 10 percent of their daily income on fast food. That’s $1,200 per year! $1,200 could buy a LOT of groceries. Or it could be another mortgage payment. Making food at home might take a little planning and a little more time, but you will always have it your way.
5. Shredded Cheese
Shredded cheese is one of those convenience costs, but it affects the quality, too. If you buy a block of cheese, you get much more for your money. You have to grate it, yes. But shredded cheese is coated in cellulose to keep it from clumping up in the bag. This additive affects your finished recipe, preventing the cheese from melting properly. This can mean anything from sad nachos to lumpy Alfredo sauce. Save your money and shred your cheese yourself for the best results.
6. Unnecessary Fees
Overdraft “protection” is supposed to prevent you from losing money, but the banks charge you $10 to $35 for every transaction over your balance. That can add up terrifyingly quickly. Keep a calendar of when your bills are due because late fees and charges can drain your checking account too. Companies who issue credit cards incur late fees of $35 or more, in addition to a “higher penalty APR.”
There is often a 10% fee attached to utility bills. Staying on top of it will save you money and improve your credit score.
7. Unnecessary Warranties
You can get an extended warranty on your vehicle, computer, TV, and couch. But should you? Consumer groups advise against hastily purchasing extended warranties. Most products come with a manufacturer’s warranty that will pay for repairs to major issues within the first year or so of ownership. Furthermore, you may be entitled to further protection from the government or your credit card issuer.
8. Bad Health Habits
There’s a big reason hospitals and employers are harping on preventive health. It’s because ignoring your health is costly. According to the National Institute of Health, Americans’ poor diet (remember our fast food obsession?) costs the country $50 billion annually in health care costs.
The researchers examined the effects of 10 food groups. They found that poor diet is responsible for almost 20% of the costs of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
9. Streaming Services
In the olden days, cable TV add-ons and Pay-Per-View sucked the lifeblood out of your checking account. Now it’s the countless streaming services you can easily sign up for on your SmartTV and then forget about. You sign up for Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, Netflix, and Disney Plus because of FOMO or perhaps pressure from your kids, but you’ll never watch enough TV to get the value for these different things.
If you subscribed to BritBox just to watch the original Pride and Prejudice miniseries, buying the DVD and saving on monthly charges might be more financially sound.
10. Food Delivery
A recent poll by Circuit revealed that the average American spends $37.28 per week on delivery, which amounts to $152.51 per month and $1,843.72 per year. Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash are just a few popular meal delivery apps Americans use.
That’s a lot of money we could have saved just by picking up the food or, even better, making our own healthier food.
According to a recent Forbes article, gambling is at an all-time high in the United States. In the first eleven months of 2022, gambling establishments and mobile app developers raked in a whopping $54.93 billion. Data obtained by the American Gaming Association from state regulators show that 2022 was on track to break the record of $53.04 billion by 13.5 percent.
12. Single-Use Kitchen Gadgets
The bane of TV chef Alton Brown’s existence, single-use kitchen gadgets take up valuable kitchen space and don’t pull their weight. Want to slice an avocado? Use a knife, not a nearly-useless avocado slicer. Want to have finely chopped garlic? Skip the drawer-jamming garlic press and use a microplane, which you can use for zesting and grating cheese.
Sure, these don’t cost as much as fast food or ignoring your health, but you don’t need them.
13. Baby Accessories
Weddings and babies are the two things with industries built up around them to get you to buy the most unnecessary things possible. When preparing for your first baby, you will be tempted to spring for a changing table, wipes warmer, and fancy diaper trash can, but we promise you won’t need it. You can change your baby’s diaper on a blanket anywhere (or a washable portable changing station, which is still cheaper than the furniture).
Also? Your newborn will cry during diaper changes, whether the wipes are warm or room temperature. Skip the gadgets and save your money.
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey. Featured Image Credit: Khosro | Canva
Demi Michele is a seasoned traveler, turned freelance writer. Having explored most states and ventured internationally, her love for outdoor cafes, new cuisines, and cultural immersion shines through her wide range of articles. Based in Texas with her family and two Scottish Terriers, Demi turns her adventures into captivating travel narratives to share with readers.