In 2015 alone, the average American paid $2,630 in credit card interest. In 2018, 22% took on more auto loan debt than they planned. What these two statistics show us is that people aren't as financially literate as they could be. There are so many ways Americans are wasting their money without knowing, and that needs to be fixed. Whether you're not adequately meal planning, or buying the newest car off the lot, you're giving away your extra cash blindly. But there are ways to change that dilemma. Continue reading and learn best practices to avoid wasting money.
Stop Over-ordering Food
We know its tempting to order that special dish that everyone keeps posting on Instagram, but do you even like chicken and waffles? Is an appetizer necessary to complete your meal when you already asked for the main entree that comes with a side?
One mustn't be afraid to have an appetizer be their main course. "Skipping a main dish could easily save you $15 or more," says Anthony, a former Delaware-based server. You also can try sharing a meal that serves two. If you must go out to eat, find a way to save as much as you can.
Ditch The Cell Phone Contract
Just like society moved on from wired phones to cordless, the same is happening for cellular contracts. While it's nice to have a free upgrade yearly or every two years, you don't need to spend hundreds per month on the bill.
When you do the math, it makes more sense to pay for the full amount upfront. Yes, phones are becoming more expensive, but there are also options that are priced considerably lower than the most expensive iPhone you're craving. For example, the majority of Android's flagship phones are more affordable than iPhones.
Look For The Hidden Charges
Do you know when people say to check the fine print? They mean it! Hidden charges are everywhere, and if you're not savvy enough to notice them, you'll be paying for it later.
For example, you have peak hour charges in your power bill, surcharges in your phone bill, and minimum balance charges for your bank account. The thing to do is to examine your statements and find all the hidden fees so you can get rid of them.
Leave That Special Pet Food Alone
Our pets have been getting by for ages with standard pet food. Why would you want to change the routine now? Unless (knock on wood) your dog has some type of particular condition that requires you to pay extra for a specific brand, stick to the Ol' Roy.
In many cases, the specialty brands have the same protein as the cheaper box. Take the time to check the back for all the nutritional values before you make a purchase.
Pay Off The Balance
Paying off your credit card every month ensures that you won't get smacked in the face with a finance fee. Sure, you can improve your credit score by carrying a balance, but there's a high possibility that you're wasting money.
Why throw cash away when you don't have to? Carrying a balance forward is one of the leading causes of wasting money. Don't fall into the never-ending spiral of paying off your credit card. End it right away.
Don't Skip The Grocery Discount Section
Everyone has an ego whether they like to admit it or not. Very few humans have swallowed their pride completely, and that's why many of us don't capitalize on the discounts at the grocery store.
Every meat department in the store has butcher's discounts. Be a frugal man or woman and locate the discount shelf. You'd be shocked to learn how many things you value are on sale for half-price. Don't forget to head to the Dollar Tree for minor necessities like sandwich bags.
Remember To Refinance That Mortage
A mortgage might be the thing that eats away at your bank account the most. That's fine, you're an adult with property, it happens to the best of us. What isn't okay is not refinancing.
You'd be wasting money if you were too afraid not to refinance. You could potentially save one cent more in interest if you did so, which could go a long way. Ask a friend who's done it. We're sure he or she will gladly enlighten you.
Say No To The New Wheels
Today, instead of keeping up with the Joneses, we're Keeping Up With The Kardashians. As a result, people think it's the cool thing to do to buy all the latest trends, and that includes new cars.
Pump your breaks. While it may be a thrill to drive off the lot in that new 2020 Mercedes, it won't be exciting for your bank account. Consider buying a more subtle car instead of that unique BMW with the shiny rims.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
If you already recycle, then this message clearly doesn't apply to you. We're focused on those who don't. Think about all the cans and plastic bottles you toss out. It's probably a lot, right?
Now, consider how much you can pull in if you saved those items and recycled them. Tossing those items in the trash is like tossing out every quarter you might receive. After a while, those quarters start to add up and can be valuable.
Do You Plan Your Meals?
Meal planning can go a long way when you're trying to save. That only means that if you're not preparing ahead of time, you're only throwing dollars down the drain. Take that pot roast you made one night and make enchiladas the next.
It's not hard when you think about it. There are plenty of other entrees that can be repurposed into something else the following dinner. Don't even think about going to Taco Bell when you hear your stomach growling...
You Don't Need The Name Brand
Do you want to know why name brand products are so popular? It's because they spend millions of dollars on marketing trying to persuade people to buy their products. Then, you have social sites like Instagram and the folks that post their name brands trying to convince people they're cool.
Don't fall victim to this trap. Go to your local department stores like Ross or Marshalls and find the same exact shoe you wanted, minus the three stripes or swoosh.
Become A Member Of The Club
In most cases, after every purchase you make at a store, the clerk will ask if you're a member. If you answer no, it's about time you say yes. Especially if it's free to join, you should be taking this offer.
You're leaving hundreds of dollars on the table by not becoming a member of their club. You will get emailed all the deals, and you never know if you find something useful that you could purchase at half price.
Try Not To Pay With Credit
Have you ever drove past those gas stations that say the price of gas will be lower if you pay with cash? Well, that's only one example of the benefits that paying with cash provides.
In many cases, car dealerships are the same way. They love when you have the green stuff and tend to eliminate any extra fees that come with paying with credit. Stock up on your cash and stop paying with credit so much.
Are You Ignoring Monthly Statements?
We get them every month either in the mail or via email. No one likes to look at their monthly statements, and that's fair. It's a paper telling us how much we owe a business.
It's time to start looking and stop allowing that auto-payment to do its thing. Companies like to do this thing called "cost creep" where they increase your rate slowly but surely. Be sure to shop around for better rates whenever you can!
Stop Eating Out So Much, Please
Eating out can be a luxury that many of us over-indulge. Especially when you hear about a new restaurant opening up, or a friend invites you out to something that is outside your budget.
All those nights spent eating out or ordering door deliveries aren't doing anything but keeping you from saving money. As we said earlier, it's way more cost-effective to plan accordingly for what you want to eat, as opposed to spending that $5.29 on the box special that includes all your favorites.
Are You Up To Date?
This one might not be as obvious as not eating out as much, and we're glad to help. If you don't update your appliances, you're letting your cash fly out the window.
You might not add it up yourself, but things like window fixtures and oven upgrades cost a pretty penny to upgrade. Over time, they'll pay for themselves and save you from wasting your money along the way. Be sure you don't have appliances from 1995 and that they're closer to 2015 at least.
Quit Paying For Basic Services
Is there a reason why you pay to have your garbage thrown out? News flash, you can do that yourself for free and save whatever you were spending. We're specifically talking about curb-side services here.
You're throwing out so much by paying for that stuff. You have it in you to find the time to fetch your own propane. Whatever you save yearly can be a nice little weekend getaway after you do the math.
Don't Remodel, Refurbish
Redesigning is a huge trend right now: out with the old, in with the new. While the living arrangements might look outstanding once you pick out all of your new pieces, you can still make them look pretty darn good if you refurbish what you already have, instead.
Not only will you be saving money, but you won't be sacrificing so much in looks. There's no end to the tricks one can do to help refurbish their place and make it look sensational.
Clip Those Coupons!
Today, there's more than just grocery store coupons you should be trying to find. We have the internet now, which has access to everything possible. If you're online shopping, there's a way to find what you want at a significantly discounted rate.
Don't be duped into paying full retail price when there are a ton of websites that can give you a discount code! Let the internet be the tool to help you save your hard-earned cash. According to thebalanceeveryday.com, "Shoppers using CPG coupons saved an average of $30 a week (or $1,560 a year) to $50 a week (or $2,600 a year)."
You're Buying Only New, Aren't You?
Yeah, new products are beautiful, but they become old quickly. Why not save the money you would have spent on a new item and buy a slightly used version for less?
The moment you use it, it becomes old. It's like when you purchase a brand new vehicle. The moment you drive it off the lot, it loses so much of its value at that exact moment. Some places give you the same warranty as a new item, so you're set.