35 Ways You Are Wasting Money [And How To Stop Right Now]

Do you know you are wasting money? For sure. By how much and on what can change depending on your current spending habits. But the fact remains – you and I will be wasting money, somewhere, right now.

We all like to think we are great with our money but we can get into bad money habits and don’t always realize we could save more money.

When you are struggling for cash it makes sense to take a fresh look at the things you may be wasting money on.

coffee cup with whole coffee beans - wasting money

How To Avoid Wasting Money

Learning how to avoid wasting money is all about taking a step back and re-thinking your spending habits.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I need this?
  • Can I afford this?
  • Am I spending too much money?
  • How can I stop spending and start saving?

Let’s face it, there are so many things to waste your money on that we all waste money at some point in our lives. When I didn’t know better I used to buy my breakfast on the way to work every day. That’s 5 days a week, month in month out. And it wasn’t a healthy breakfast either.

Wait for it…. my breakfast in those spendy days was a diet coke and a 125g bar of milk chocolate!

And this was at a time when money was so tight for me – if only I had made better choices.

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Why We Spend

Unless you live on an island without internet or TV, chances are you are being bombarded by adverts. On public transport, billboards, websites and TV, it’s difficult to not be exposed to them.

Adverts sole purpose are to get you to spend your money. Because your spending isn’t planned, it often means you are wasting money on things you weren’t intending to buy.

The key thing is to find the right balance so that you spend your money on those things you actually plan for and want.

And stop the impulse spending, the unnecessary spending. And then there is the sheer volume of choice that you have everywhere you turn.

Grocery stores are huge, shopping malls are huge. And they are stuff full of things you could buy.

Temptation when you look around you, when you see adverts for some sweet new thing, is the main reason you end up spending too much money.

Related posts:

How To Stop Spending Money You Really Don’t Have

How To Stop Living Beyond Your Means In 10 Easy Steps

7 Inspiring Tips On How To Be Good With Money

We’re Not Perfect

I’ll be honest, we still have cable TV (shocker I know!) so I haven’t included it in the list of things to stop wasting your money on.

I know it’s a waste of money (to me) but my husband loves his sport and wildlife programs. So for the sake of matrimonial harmony Cable TV stays and is deemed to not be a waste of money in the Tuppenny household.

On the other hand I think I make up for the spendy cable TV  by being extremely frugal in other ways.

35 Things To Stop Wasting Money On

1. Out of date subscriptions

Monthly subscriptions can be lethal for leaking money every month.

Make sure you are only paying for memberships or subscriptions for things you are actively using and can justify the expense to your self.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Do I get value from this service (or product)?
  2. Can I find it cheaper?
  3. Do I need it or can I do without it for now?

Cancel any that fail these questions. An even better way is to get TRIM to do this for you. Trim is a virtual personal assistant that constantly works to save you money.

Need to cancel your old subscriptions? TRIM can do this for you. Need to set spending alerts to keep your spending on track? TRIM can do this for you. TRIM can even help you fight fees.

advert banner for TRIM financial

2. Pay less for your monthly bills

Most companies rely on us not questioning our monthly bills, including internet, wireless and TV providers.

In some states and countries you have a choice of companies to provide these services. This makes for a great way to save money as these companies always offer new customer discounts.

You don’t even need to change company, contact your existing provider and request a discount. Even better, get Billshark to ask for you.

Billshark negotiates lower prices on your monthly bills to save you time, money and hassle. You could save hundreds each month with the help of professional bill negotiators at BillShark, starting today!

advert banner for billshark

3. Too Many Shoes

It never cease to amaze me how many shoes some people have. You have one pair of feet so can only wear a single pair at a time.

Choose wisely with shoes that serve more than one purpose. At an average of $50 a pair, every pair you don’t buy is $50 saved.

4. Jewelry

I was a big fan of big earrings – the bigger the better. And funky rings. But then I became a teenage single mum with bills to pay and realized two things.

  1. Big earrings are uncomfortable and get in the way of me living life – they don’t mix well with long hair, and
  2. They cost money I didn’t have back then

A few well chosen accessories will mean more to you and help you avoid wasting money.

5. Energy Drinks

These are a pet hate of mine. I do not understand why people feel the need to be drinking these when they are going about their normal, non-active life.

As for young children drinking them – aargh!

Eat a healthy, balanced diet, get some exercise and enough sleep and you will have enough energy for your everyday needs.

6. Dry Cleaning

My local dry cleaners does a ‘bargain’ of 5 laundered items for £18. You wear more than 5 items a week just to work. That’s a lot of money just to get a few items clean.

Having inadvertently bought a dry clean only top I made it my mission to never do so again. Always check the labels and steer clear.

Avoid wasting money on this and then you don’t need to worry about all the chemicals involved in the dry cleaning process.

4 pink piggy banks for how to stop wasting money

7. Pink Tax Products

The female versions of grooming products like razors, shaving cream and moisturizers can carry a premium in comparison to the male versions.

My pet bug bear is pink razors. Buying my husband his razor and blades highlighted to me the additional cost the pink versions come with.

Avoid spending extra and buy the right products for you regardless of who they are marketed at.

8. Phantom Electricity

Otherwise know as the electricity you waste when you leave electrical items on standby. My pet hate is my dishwasher. It lights up to tell me it’s finished and stays that way until I turn it off.

Multiply that by all your other items and you’ve definitely got wasted money and phantom electricity happening.

Turning every appliance you can off at the socket can really help you save electricity. Using a power strip allows you to switch them all off with just one button.

No need to keep these on standby just because you can’t reach the wall socket. A bonus is that your devices are protected from power surges when you use a surge protector power strip.

Related post: How To Keep Your House Warm In Winter And Save Money

9. Impulse Buys

Impulse buys are often the biggest waste of money and always a risk if you shop as a form of leisure.

You didn’t need the item before you went shopping so could easily not have bought it and saved 100% of the cost.

Related post: 10 Things I Don’t Do or Buy

10. Weight Loss Aids

By this I mean supplements, special branded diet food, exercise gadgets etc.

As a previously overweight person who still struggles with portion control I know how easy it is to get sucked into purchasing the light and diet versions.

And classes.

And gadgets.

The biggest factor in helping you lose weight is willpower. The willpower to say no. The willpower to eat less and be more active.

Willpower is free, but not easy.

openwhite piggy bank with silver coins around it

11. Paying For Debt Advice

When you are in a lot of debt seeking advice is crucial and sensible.

Many debt advice firms charge and arrangements made through them will cost you a fortune over the repayment period. Always seek out the free advice available to you.

In the UK you can access free debt advice at:


Citizens Advice

In the US you can access free debt advice at:

National Foundation for Credit Counselling

12. More House Than You Need

Over the past 50 years houses have got bigger but the families living in them haven’t. Now it’s not enough to have one living space, we want 2 or 3 separate areas.

If you look at what rich people do, (and I mean truly wealthy, not people spending like they are rich but actually have a ton of debt) they don’t buy big or expensive.

Save money by living in a house that is big enough for your needs and no more.

13. Lottery Tickets

The odds of winning the UK lottery jackpot are 1 in 45,057,474 and the Euromillions jackpot are 1 in 139,838,160. Leave your pipe dreams behind and focus on saving your money.

If you usually spend £5 a week on the lotteries, that’s £260 a year you can save towards something special.

14. Driving Too Fast

Accelerating hard and braking often are fast ways to use more gas than you need to. Drive more moderately and remain conscious of your acceleration for a smoother, cheaper ride.

Hypermiling could save you up to 25% on gas!

close up of small piles of gold coloured coins

15. Name Brand Medications

You can easily pay over the odds for standard medication by reaching for the brand you see advertised all the time. Buy the generic brand instead and save up to 70%.

In the UK it can be cheaper to buy medication over the counter than pay £9+ for it to be prescribed by the doctor.

16. Vaping And Smoking

Many people vape now instead of smoking and it can be less expensive than buying cigarettes. But it’s still a habit you don’t need and should avoid wasting money on.

Nicotine is present in some vape products and is a highly addictive substance that keeps you hooked on both them and cigarettes.

17. Buying New

Buying new, whether that is cars, houses or tools comes a hefty price in comparison to buying used. Wait a year or two to buy a car and it’s price will have dropped by 30% or more.

Buying new items is one of the key things to avoid if you can. Save money by using Ebay, Craigslist, Gumtree and other sites for lightly used tools, toys, furniture and other goods.

18. Paper Towels

These are a needless expense. Use washable cloths instead to not only save money but also to be that little bit more eco-friendly.

19. Wet Wipes

Another needless expense that you can save money by ditching. They’re not environmentally friendly either as they do not biodegrade easily. Use washable cloths instead.

20. Excessive Couponing

Couponing is addictive, I get that, and it can save you money. But only coupon for products that you normally use and in normal quantities.

Stockpiling 100 bottles of something you use rarely isn’t sensible. And it encourages the cycle of shopping and spending.

Related post: How To Use Coupons effectively Without Going Extreme

shopping receipt surrounded by grocery products and tins

How To Stop Wasting Money On Food

21. Individual Portions

Why pay someone to cut your food and wrap it when you can do this yourself? Individual wrapped portions, pre-sliced food and ready cut vegetables all come at a premium.

Don’t waste your money, buy the whole product instead.

22. Airport Food

Anything you can buy in an airport comes at a costly extra. You are a captive audience with time to burn. Come prepared with your own food and plan meals around airport time.

23. Buying Too Much Food

You start out with grand plans for lovely meals at home then those plans fall by the wayside and you end up wasting food.

Annual food waste figures show they can be as high as 30% of all food bought. If your grocery budget is $600 then you could be wasting up to $200 a month on food.

Meal planning is your friend and will help you reduce food waste to a minimum.

24. Famous Branded Products

Brands spend a fortune on advertising to convince us their product is worth paying the extra for.

But blind tests have proven that this is often not the case. As do those people who work in the factories packing food items.

Drop down a brand to stores own. Try the value brands – you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The value brands are a great way to stop spending too much money on food.

We cut our grocery budget for 2 by over 20% when we embraced value brands.

table with wine, cheese, breads and tomatoes

25. Service Station Food

When you are on a long road trip, regular stops are essential to keep tiredness at bay. Stopping at a service station doesn’t mean you must buy their pricey food.

Bring your own pack up, a flask of tea or coffee and snacks and you are good for 12+ hours.

26. Bottled Water

You know it, I know it. We all know it.

Water is a precious commodity and freely available in our homes for a fraction of the cost of one bottle from the store. Be prepared, take you own reusable water bottle and refill for free.

Related post: 10 Ways To Save Money On Your Water Bill

27. Coffee To Go

And the same goes for coffee. Make your own and take it with you when out and about. I’ve used my hot drinks flask almost daily for over 7 years. I reckon I’ve saved more than £7,000/$9,000 in that time.

lots of bronze coins spread on dark background to show how to stop wasting money

8 More Things To Avoid Spending Money On

  1. Newspapers – go online instead
  2. New books – use your library or buy used
  3. ATM fees – plan your cash differently
  4. Credit card interest – pay balances off in full every month
  5. Sat navs – use a free app on your phone instead
  6. Credit reports – you can get these free
  7. Pedigree pets – rescue centers and shelters are always looking for pet homes
  8. Warranties – Products should last a reasonable time, if you think it won’t perhaps you need to reconsider buying it in the first place?

How To Stop Wasting Money

That’s 33 things you could avoid wasting money on. How much money could you save if you stopped buying just half of those?

What to do now?

Take a step back and look at what you do buy and what you don’t. Think about whether you actually need to keep buying what you buy.

Think about saving that money instead. What could you do with that money?

Understand your triggers – look into why you spend when you spend. If you are in a cycle of overspending then take some time to analyze why you are overspending.

The root cause is rarely about liking nice things and is usually tied up in an emotion.

Use cash not card – cash is always harder to hand over, plastic doesn’t feel real until the bill hits.

Related post: Why You Should Use a Cash Envelope System to Manage Your Money

Use the 30 day rule – wait 30 days to buy something, that way you’ll know if you really want it. Often, you’ll find you don’t, thereby saving yourself some money.

Set yourself some financial goals – save up for something you truly want.

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

pinterest image for 33 ways to stop wasting money
pinterest image for 33 ways to stop wasting money

Last Updated on 15th January 2022 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

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