Do you know what you’re spending your money on?
It’s easy to lose track of where you spend your money, especially if you aren’t tracking it at all.
Awareness of your spending habits can help you identify ways you’re wasting money.
If you’ve ever caught yourself asking, “Where did all my money go?” here are some key areas to look at.
Buying High Ticket Items
Have you ever stopped to add up how much you spend on housing, cars, and electronics each month?
These three areas are ripe for over-extending ourselves.
It makes sense that we want to feel comfortable in our surroundings. But, it’s all too easy to spend beyond our means in the name of comfort and security.
It may not be a
As for electronics, that’s always been a problem area for me too.
I’ve found ignoring the news and staying out of the loop has helped me avoid my early adopter tendencies. You can’t buy something if you don’t know it exists.
Paying for Convenience
There are many daily conveniences we take for granted that cost us money without even noticing.
Some may only cost a few dollars here and there, making us feel like they’re worth the expense.
But these little splurges add up over time and can end up sapping your savings if you’re not being deliberate with your spending.
Some areas to look out for include:
- ATM fees
- Fast food and eating out
- Bottled water
- Coffee shops
- Upgraded shipping options
- Movie theater concessions
- Work lunches
- Buying household goods at the grocery store
- Opting for travel upgrades
Convenience may be an area of your budget you’re willing to pay extra for, but make sure you’re aware and intentional with your choices.
Not Optimizing Your Finances
We tend to think of spending as it relates to shopping, but there are also pitfalls to avoid when it comes to how you manage your finances themselves.
Here are some ways not optimizing your finances may be costing you money:
- Paying for your checking account
- Paying bank fees
- Not using a high-yield savings account
- Investing in retirement accounts with high management fees
- Carrying a balance on your credit cards
- Using credit cards with a high-interest rate
- Not taking advantage of employee benefits
- Overdrawing your accounts
- Ignoring your credit report
- Not consolidating your high-interest debt
- Not automating your savings and bill payments
- Not shopping around for insurance
You could solve several of these problem areas by switching to an online, fee-free bank like Simple or Ally.
Spending on Entertainment
For many people, our most significant discretionary expenses also happen to be the easiest to rein in – entertainment.
Did you know the average American spends over $250 a month on entertainment expenses?
Here are some entertainment expenses costing you money:
- Paying for cable or satellite
- Eating out
- Throwing extravagant birthday parties
- Impulsive shopping
- Buying books
Saving money doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate fun from your life. Just be intentional with what you’re spending your money on.
Ignoring Your Utilities
I don’t know about you, but as a desert dweller, I struggle every year with the sharp rise in our AC bill when summer rolls around.
It’s easy to feel frustrated and a sense of injustice when your electric bill is almost half your mortgage.
But while energy rates may be high, your usage doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways you may be costing yourself money on your utilities.
- Not adjusting your thermostat
- Wasting energy
- Using the wrong light bulbs
- Ignoring your cell phone bill
- Washing your clothes in warm water
- Using an electric dryer
Utility costs may be a fact of life, but it is possible to reduce them to a manageable level.
Ignoring Your Food Spending
Food expenses make up a surprisingly large percentage of most people’s budgets.
It’s actually one of the biggest shocks people get when they start tracking their spending, making it one of the best places to look to for saving money.
Here are some everyday food-related habits that may be costing you money.
- Not meal planning
- Throwing away leftovers
- Wasting food
- Grocery shopping without a list
- Buying name brand
- Mindless snacking
- Not using coupons and cashback apps
Not being aware and deliberate with how much you spend on food could be costing you a small fortune.
When we first began our debt-free journey, it was the realization that we were spending more on food than our mortgage that prompted some of the most substantial changes in our behavior.
Lifestyle Habits and Choices
Have you ever considered how much money your habits are actually costing you?
Here are some typical lifestyle expenses that may be costing you money.
- Gym membership
- Going out to bars and restaurants
- Drinking soda
- Going to the coffee shop
When it comes to limiting these expenses, try to substitute more costly habits with cheaper ones.
And consider abandoning the habits and expenses that are not just detrimental to your finances but to your health as well.
Things that the government considers bad for you, like cigarettes and soda, are often subject to a “sin” tax, making them even more expensive.
There are areas in practically every aspect of life that have the potential to cost you money. This list represents just an overview of the main ways you’re wasting money.
Pick a couple of trouble spots and see how much you can save today by making a few tweaks to your lifestyle or habits. Let me know in the comments where you think you’re wasting money.