Getting your finances under control often leaves people shaking their head at what they used to waste money on. It’s a completely normal part of the journey. You can start by looking at the Top 10 Stupid Things That We Waste Money On.
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Since we’ve become debt free, it amazes me how differently we handle financial decisions now than we did before.
Part of our journey to paying off our debt and finally getting our spending (and our eating out!) under control was substituting things we were spending money on with less expensive or free options.
It took a long time.
We were completely different people when we finally emerged from that long journey and it amazes us to think about the stupid things that we used to waste money on…
The stupidest things we wasted money on…
I know it’s quick and I know how hard it is to find the time to cook at home. Trust me. We were addicted to fast food for years because I didn’t know how to cook and we had awful organizational skills.
It took us a long time to learn to cook at home and we had to start with super simple 15 minute recipes to get us there. But the money that you will save is immense.
The money isn’t even the best part! You’ll eat so much better and you’ll consume fewer calories, making you healthier and even happier.
Brand Name Products
We used to buy brand name everything even when we couldn’t afford it. That makes me cringe now.
Even when we taste tested, there were very few items for which liked the brand name items better. Most tasted exactly the same, and we often found a store brand that we liked better. The exception to this (and the only things we still buy in name brand) are Hellmann’s mayonnaise and McIlhenny Chipotle Tabasco Sauce.
By switching to store brands in everything else, we automatically save about 30% off on our grocery bills without even noticing a difference.
This is usually the hardest for readers to try, but I’ve never had a single reader say they switched back to cable.
This was easy for us. We had an Xbox, so we just got Hulu for $7.99 and Netflix for $8.99/month and called it a day.
We saved $80/month, had better TV than when we had cable and had the unexpected added benefit of never having to watch the news (I never realized how much stress the news caused until we lived without it).
There are so many options today for cheaper alternatives to cable that it boggles my mind that cable companies can still make a living.
It’s not that these small purchases cost a lot, it’s that they’re so completely senseless.
Buying extra lives in angry birds, and candy crush is not only a waste of money (and your time!) but if you just put the phone down for 20 minutes, you earn more lives anyway!
Not to mention, those small purchases add up over time (that’s why the company that creates Candy Crush Saga is worth 6 billion).
Unused Gym memberships
Every January, hoards of people flood their local gym to sign up for memberships, by March, the gyms are almost empty.
Almost every person that has “gym membership” listed in their budget that I’ve worked with went to the gym less than 4x a month, which means that they could pay per diem and save money. Or better yet, find a way to work out at home like a Fitdesk or a Fit2B membership that doesn’t require a contract and high monthly rates.
If you’re using the gym then it provides value for you, that’s great! But unless you’ve proven to yourself that you can consistently work out for several months, then you’re burning money every month. There are quite a few ways to lose weight for lower costs found in this tools and resource guide for weight loss.
The lottery drives me nuts. We’re so focused on getting an unexpected windfall that will solve our financial problems forever that we never even look into what happens when people win the lottery. It’s not pretty, guys. In fact, winning the lottery is my biggest fear to date.
When you get a large amount of money without building the skills needed to manage that large amount of money, it’s likely that you’ll lose all of it and incur more debt than you can handle.
Basically, if you make $22,000 a year and have $10,000 in debt, you may feel like you’ll never dig yourself out of debt. But that’s totally doable (I help people like that every day).
What’s terrifying is $400,000 in debt, without the skills necessary to get a job with a high salary. The lottery makes that situation not only possible but likely.
Skip the lottery, and invest in yourself instead. Do you have a hobby that could be turned into a business? Maybe you love photography or writing? Invest in a small business that you can scale up (and skill build) over time.
We did this and turned the blog into a full- time job, while my husband’s home brewing hobby has turned into a huge brewery opening in Northern Virginia.
It’s still a dollar and a dream, but your odds of winning are much better.
These are almost always a waste of money. This is a good article to explain extended warranties, but the cliff notes version is that extended warranties for electronics, jewelry (engagement rings where you have to get them cleaned every 6 months in order to keep the warranty? Terrible Idea), and cars are all bad ideas.
I used to spend a small fortune on books every month. I’m an obsessive reader and am usually reading two books at a time. When we reduced our spending, I stopped buying books completely.
We get every book from the library now. Completely for free.
If my schedule screws up and I end up owing late fees, then I happily pay it considering the amount of money that the library saves me every month.
Switch to the library and pocket the savings. You’ll love the extra space in your house, too!
We love to find a good deal, but with clothing, this means we often have a closet full of cheaply made clothes that don’t fit us well. It’s a waste of money. The average person uses less than 30% of the clothes in their closet!
Skip the “bargains” and only buy the things that you absolutely love and want to wear every day. Even if you end up buying full-priced clothes, you’ll still save a small fortune compared to filling your closet with clothes that don’t fit.
Repeat after me. Timeshares are never a good idea. Even if you use them all the time. These “prepaid vacation investments” are one of the worst deals you can make and they’re extremely hard to get out of.
If you’re ever considering a timeshare, read this article first…
It boggles my mind to think that we’ve wasted our hard earned money on some of these ridiculous purchases in the past. In fact, if you could add up every dollar that you’ve spent on the items on this list, I bet you could likely pay for a house in cash!
The good news? You’re learning and growing every day… and regardless of what you spent your money on in the past, you won’t be wasting it anymore.
What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever wasted money on?
You can now join the 90 Day Budget Boot Camp for free! Get step by step instructions for how to set up a budget, maintain a budget, and save money. With hundreds of success stories and reviews, this is not an opportunity you want to miss! Join the Budget Boot Camp here.