Stop Wasting Money On These 10 Things

*This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure

No one plans on wasting money….it just happens.

Juggling bills, debts, and daily expenses can be an overwhelming task for anyone.

And companies know this.

So much money disappears from your bank account silently, in ways you may not even notice.

Today, I wanted to expose the top things you are wasting money on, and show you EXACTLY how to stop.

I want to arm you against the marketing tactics of companies that want your dollars, and help you KEEP your hard-earned money so you can put it to work on your GOALS.

Top 10 Money Wasters

Credit card interest

This one hurts.

Credit card debt is at an all-time high ($870 Billion according to this report!), and considering the average interest rate it almost 20%, Americans are wasting more money than ever on this!

So, what can be done?

Do This Instead:

First, you need a plan. I recommend starting a budget and getting a handle on your monthly expenses.

Then read through my step-by-step guide on getting out of credit card debt!

As part of the plan, you can significantly lower the interest rate on your credit card debt by refinancing through a reputable loan company.

I have a small handful of places I recommend doing this, depending on your situation:

  • Upstart – For those with little or no credit history
  • LightStream – For those with more credit history (offers very low rates)
  • Credible – Will actually compare rates of other loan providers for you

This can save you hundreds on interest, but make sure you have a payoff plan in place first (hint: get on a budget!)

Food Waste

Americans have a food problem. According to this report, we waste over 900 lbs. of food, per person, per year!

The amount of thrown away takeout and dinner leftovers is astounding, and it hurts the wallet too.

The USDA estimates that 31% of food is wasted in homes.

Meaning over 30% of your grocery spending gets thrown in the trash, each and every month!


But this problem is solvable with a little planning, and less wasted food means a lower grocery bill as well.

Do This Instead:

The first step to eliminating food waste is meal planning.

Plan and shop on a weekly basis for all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and snacks.

If you need some help planning, there are some amazing services that take care of this for you.

Try out eMeals or $5 Dollar Meal Plan for FREE for 14 days. You can stop wasting money on food waste AND save time!

The next step is to ensure you have adequate food storage to store any meal leftovers.

We personally use Snapware and Pyrex to organize and store our leftovers in.

And then commit to actually EATING the leftover food, and not just shoving it to the back of the fridge until it rots!

Extra Smartphone Data

This one is personal!

We have been hit with a few overages on our family plan, so much so that one month we paid $90 just in data overages!

And this was only for 5GB of additional usage!

I’m sure carriers LOVE their extremely high overage charges, and it’s one of the ways you can waste hundreds of dollars per year!

Do This Instead:

Consider switching to a Pre-Paid phone plan.

Pre-paid doesn’t have any overages, contracts, and if you pre-pay for multiple month, you can get crazy cheap service!

For example: We were paying $60 per phone, per month for a normal plan (7GB Data Per line) through AT&T. But we are switching to Total Wireless, and will be paying $80 per month for 3 lines, with 60GB of shared data!

Other Tips

Check your cell phone bills. Have you paid for any overages? If so, give them a call and let them know that you are not happy, and would like to know what your options are for removing the charges.

Say things like “as a longtime customer”, or “this is too expensive” and let them know you are ready to switch carriers if needed. I recently did this and got my $90 charge cut in half (they refunded $45).

Once you get the fees lowered (or waived), try lowered your data usage. Make sure you always join Wi-Fi wherever available.

And you can use an app like My Data Manager to set limits and warning on your phone to keep you from going over.


I love calamari.

But it’s true, appetizers before a full entrée can really jack up your restaurant bill in a hurry.

Yes, those tasty little bites are delicious, but if you don’t plan carefully, one night out with the family can cost over $100 (or more!).

Do This Instead:

You can still order the appetizers, but make sure you snag a coupon first!

Click HERE to go to Groupon and find deals on local food & drink.(and don’t forget to activate your CASH BACK using Rakuten!)

You can usually find half off or BOGO deals at local restaurants, which can get you free appetizers or 50% off your meal!

Plan your night out around the deals and save big $$$……while still enjoying your appetizer!

ATM fees

ATM Fees are on the rise (almost $5 on average!). And if you find yourself in need of some quick cash, you could get ripped off hit with one of these large fees!

ATM fees are the WORST, but they can be avoided with a little planning and knowing where to search.

Do This Instead:

First, if you find yourself at an ATM a lot during the month, consider pulling out a larger amount of cash after your paycheck, and using cash envelopes for discretionary spending. This works best if you are on a budget, and plan ahead for cash purchases.

If you need money right away, you can find surcharge-free ATM’s a few ways.

  1. Simply Google “Free ATM Near Me”
  2. If you have a credit union, check if they are part of the ATM Co-Op. We are, and can use ANY ATM at a 7-Eleven or Costco for free
  3. Ask your bank if they refund ATM fees. Mine does, so if I happen to pay a fee, it disappears the next day!

Using the steps above, you never have to pay an ATM Fee again!

Overdraft fees

This is a tough one.

Overdraft fees occur when you write a check or use your Debit card to spend more money than you have in your account. It can also be from an online payment, such as a monthly bill.

Fees are typically more than $30, EACH TIME! And some banks will charge you more daily fees until you bring the account back to a positive balance.

If you find yourself paying these fees, there is hope!

Do This Instead:

The first step to stopping the overdraft fees is to setup alerts on your checking account. Most banks will allow you to set a “low balance” alert when you go below a certain amount (say, $100).

Then you need to commit to yourself to get on a budget.

No, really. Tracking your spending, and putting a plan in place will eliminate overdraft fees….period.

And you can do this, not matter WHAT your financial situation. I highly recommend reading my guide to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck for some strategy to get on track.

And one final tip: If you had a recent overdraft fee, call your bank and see if they’ll waive it for you. It’s worth a quick call, and could get you $30+ back today!

Unused Subscriptions

It seems every company is moving to a subscription model these days.

Software, services, entertainment, you name it.

Services can help make life better, but they can also waste money if you are not using them.

Do This Instead:

The best way to find these is to go over your credit card statements for the past few months and look for recurring charges.

Then evaluate ALL subscriptions, and try to cancel any that are not being used.

Alternatively, you can use a service like Trim, which automatically finds your subscriptions and lets you cancel them with a text message.


Unused Gym Memberships

January is a month filled with hope.

And with the best intentions, we sign up for the gym, hoping to get our money’s worth.

Unfortunately, getting out the door and committing time to the gym is just plain tough sometimes.

But since you signed a contract, you’re wasting money each month on something you don’t use.

Do This Instead:

I recommend going in person to the gym to cancel your membership. Try negotiating to cut your cancellation fees in half, or have them lower the rate for the rest of the contract.

Then simply get your favorite Workout at Home program and get fit in your own home.

My personal favorite is Beachbody. Great workouts, and a HUGE selection for any lifestyle.

You can try it out with their BeachBody On-Demand 14 Day Free Trial <–

Premium cable packages

I get it.

You got a sweet 75″ 4k LED TV, and you wanted to watch some EPIC high-definition shows and sports on it.

The cable sign-up offer was too good to pass up.

But now the promotion period is over, and you’re wasting money on your jacked-up cable bill.

Do This Instead:

With so many premium channels offering their shows online, and many ways to watch local sports with streaming services, there’s no reason to hang on to your $100+ cable bill.

Once you cancel, I recommend picking 2 streaming services you like (we use Netflix and Amazon Prime)

And if you still need LIVE TV and Sports, check out Hulu Live and YouTube TV to get your fix!

Daily coffee trips

I know. Giving up the daily coffee is not going to make you a millionaire!
BUT, Americans do spend about $20/week on average getting coffee, so it is REAL money that is being wasted.

At $80-$100 per month, drinking subpar coffee at the S*bucks is costing you.

Do This Instead:

I recommend getting into the habit of making it at home.

You can survive on a bag of coffee a month for $10 (or less).

And you can get a REALLY nice French Press for $16 on Amazon.

We make coffee at home, and it starts the morning off right. I suggest trying this for a week or so, and see if you notice a difference in YOUR morning.

But….if you really want to keep getting daily coffee, I just heard of a friend who is using her cashback from places like Swagbucks and Rakuten to pay for her coffee habit!

Specifically, Swagbucks can pay you in Starbucks gift cards!

So, you can have your (coffee) and drink it too! 🙂

What Are We Wasting Money On?

Now that’s we’ve covered some of the things people are wasting money on, let me tell you where WE struggle.

Cell Phone

Like I wrote above, we paid MASSIVE overage charges on our phone plan. We are finally switching to prepaid plan, but have probably paid over $150 in overages over the past few years.

Since my work reimbursed this forever, I simply never changed the plan.

But now we’re self-employed, we’re switching and savings HUNDREDS!


As many of your know, we travel full time in our RV.

We were paying around $1,000/mo. for campground rental fees.

This is still a HUGE savings compared to our house, but we knew we could cut this down a TON!

We recently signed up for a Thousand Trails Membership, and are now paying $500/mo. or less for rent. We get to stay for FREE for 14 days at participating campgrounds, and then pay for rent for 7 days elsewhere before going back.

Add that to some of the FREE campsites we’ve found on Campendium, we are saving HUNDREDS on rental costs.

Transportation Costs

Life on the road has some downsides, especially in the transportation department.

We’ve spent thousands in maintenance and repairs on our towing vehicle (which has pulled our 10,000 lb. trailer over 30,000 miles!).

Our gas bill has also averaged almost $600 per month!

Luckily, we’re lowering both categories this coming year.

We are slowing down our travel, which is almost cutting our gas bill in half.

And less time on the road means less repairs as well. We still have the occasional oil change, and some small items here and there (darn window motors keep going out!).

But the big stuff was taken care of last year, and we should spend less than $100/mo. on all repairs combined!


I hope this helped you see ways to stop wasting money, especially in places you maybe never thought about!

We all work hard for each and every dollar, so let’s work hard to keep them as well!

So, tell me, what is ONE THING on this list you are going to stop wasting money on?

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

32 thoughts on “Stop Wasting Money On These 10 Things”

  1. We waste money on food if I’m not super careful. I have been on lockdown for October and it’s gone really well. I need to be like that every month.

  2. That’s so true about gyms after New Year’s. Similar to the pastor, I call the annual batch of newcomers “resolutionists” and figure it’ll be about 6 weeks before the crowds will disappear. I think some people actually believe they’re fulfilling exercise goals merely by having a gym membership! An overweight buddy of mine once bought himself a treadmill to get in shape. Several months after he got the thing, I asked him how much weight he’d lost. “None,” he says. His sheepish reaction when I teased him about the need to actually use the treadmill to lose weight told all. 🙂

  3. I have been invited to a handful of baby showers and you are right – i dont understand these designer baby clothes. We saw a Burberry coat for babies at a discounted price of $500. I dont know when that baby (or parent) will need a coat that they will outgrow in a month.

  4. I waste so much money on food – it’s embarassing. Food goes out of date or we have food items that combined we can’t make a meal with 🙁

    I definitely advocate unsubscribing. However much I love Groupon and have found some fantastic deals, I probably didn’t need to book the event in the first place and without Groupon I would not have discovered it.

    • Best way to minimise food wastage is to make a menu. If you shop weekly, make menus for that comimg week. If you shop fortnightly, make your meus for that fortnight before you shop, and so on. Routine for us old timers, but a valuable tip for those whose budget is tight!

  5. Really agree with you on a lot of these. We’re similar and spend a bit more on home projects that we hope will save us money in the long-run: NEST, our garden, solar panels (that was a biggie!). My husband also splurges and uses an iPhone (an iPhone 5) which although is more expensive than my archaic flip-phone, is definitely more useful!

    • I used to spend fortune on books then I subscribed to bookbub strongly advise you look into it saves me heaps and heaps and I’m always reading.

  6. Groceries! We have to watch ourselves carefully lest we get lured in by organic red grapes and the like. Making a list before going to the store really helps us in this arena. It’s amazing how many more things I think we need once we’re at the store. But, if it’s not on the list, we don’t buy it (most of the time. unless it’s hot cocoa…).

  7. We waste money on food and travel. I’ve made my peace with it for the most part- we’re pretty good on everything else. I also budget for food and travel and stick to those budgets, although the budgets themselves are sometimes higher than they could be.

  8. Yes!! Appetizers! I always regret ordering appetizers because I’ll get half way through my entree when my stomach reminds me I’ve already eaten an entire loaf of cheesy garlic bread and I’m no longer hungry. Do people really need to eat that much food in one sitting anyways?

  9. Did you know there is an emeals ap you can download on your phone? No need to print out meal plans and you can check off grocery items you don’t need before going shopping. You can also skip meals and all of those ingredients are taken off the grocery list. It’s pretty useful.

  10. Our groceries bill is still pretty big, since we don’t want to compromise at all at the quality of food we’re eating. It’s the biggest ‘money drain’ so far 😀

  11. We have health problems, including depression. So we waste a lot of money on convenience food. We’re in Arizona so utility bills are awful. I finally put us on equal billing to help absorb the sticker shock. But we’re home all day, as are my in-laws. So electricity costs are awful in the hot months.

  12. I used to pay for high speed internet and later discovered that I never needed that type of subscription. I have managed to save a lot since then, though I had lost some huge sum of money.

  13. Great read!! I’ve wasted money on a gym membership before but learned my (very expensive) lesson. Now I go to parks and go for walks outside! We definitely waste money on food…but at the same time, you have to eat. We could eat cheaper, but my philosophy is as long as you’re saving money…who cares what you spend the rest on?!

  14. Great detail on the list Jacob. My wife and I actually talked about our unnecessary movie package earlier today. Paying $15 a month for movie channels we rarely watch, and that’s the teaser price.

    Probably don’t use the gym membership as much as I should to make it worth it but it’s nice to have when I need the extra motivation of others sweating just as much as I am.

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  17. Books can be a waste. If you buy it and it is available at public library for free it is a waste. Before you buy a book, check to see if it is available at public library. Try setting up a book buying line in your budget. $20.00 a month for buying books in your budget. more if you can afford it.

  18. I use Swagbucks and Shopkick to earn Starbucks giftcards….and if I find myself at the end of my rope I do have $25 in my mint.com budget for coffee – but it’s one of the ones I have tried hard not to use! I buy coffee at the grocery store (categorized under groceries) and make and take a LOT of coffee…I would say I probably spend $6-10/week on a bag of coffee and then get Starbucks once or twice if needed – I did go all of February with only one Starbucks purchase!!

  19. A great way to purchase designer clothes for babies or toddlers (if you care about that sort of thing) is to yardsale. You can find every brand name under the sun in near-perfect condition for .50-$1.00 per item since babies outgrow clothes before they have a chance to ruin them.

  20. Food waste is one of the areas we are bad about wasting money. Every time I throw away food that wasn’t eaten before it went bad, all I can picture is money going into the garbage with it. Eating leftovers in our house is probably our biggest fail. Like you recommend, we simply have to COMMIT to having leftovers for dinner. Mind over matter! Thanks for the tips!

    • 100% right on! It’s just a mindset shift first. Make it no longer an option, just say “we are a family that eats leftovers.” Then commit to it for 30 days, and see what a HUGE difference it makes. Plus, you will find that NO ONE DIES from eating leftovers, and you’ll save a TON 🙂


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