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The Simple Dollar

10 (more) giant money wasters

In response to a list of 'giant money wasters' recently published, here's different list to consider

By Guest blogger / May 24, 2011

Bottles of Dasani water are seen on sale at a central London supermarket, March 19, 2004. Is bottled water always a good use of money?

Peter Macdiarmid / Reuters / File

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A few days ago, CNN Money posted an article listing ten giant money wasters. Here they are, in summary form:

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1. ATM fees
2. Lottery tickets
3. Gourmet coffee
4. Cigarettes
5. Infomercial impulse buys
6. Brand-name groceries
7. Eating out
8. Unused gym memberships
9. Daily internet deals
10. Bundled cable or phone services

Undoubtedly, each of these can be a huge money waster. They can each add significant and unnecessary expense to your purchases.

At the same time, almost everyone will look at an item or two on this list and think that specific item is not a money waster. You’ll see something that you yourself do and immediately think of it as a good use of money.

Here’s the truth. That list is a personal challenge to you, particularly the items you have a reaction to. If you strongly feel that something on this list isn’t a waste of money, then you’ve found a particular item that’s worth some careful consideration in your own life. The time you spend considering that item is almost always well worth it.

In order to keep the ball rolling forward with this, let’s look at ten more money wasters. Hopefully, some of these will be a challenge to how you live your life and might open up a new path for you to follow.

Credit card (and other debt) interest Every time you pay interest on debt, you’re giving away money. Avoid carrying credit card debt at the end of the month. When you don’t have an outstanding car loan, make “car payments” each month to a savings account so that you earn interest and can just write a check for the car.

Electronics Does that piece of electronic equipment that you have your eye on do something distinctly different from the equipment you already have? Does it really provide you with anything new? If it doesn’t, it’s an unnecessary expense.

New name-brand clothing A well-made piece of clothing is worth the money, but when there are so many consignment shops out there with tons of well-made used clothing, why would you head to the new clothes store first?

Bottled water Why buy bottled water when you can easily bottle it yourself? Fill up your own water bottles, keep them in the fridge, and drink them at your convenience. Tap water is often held to at least the same standard as bottled water.

Entertainment programming Keep track of what channels you actually watch. How much do you really watch that you can’t watch online, off of Netflix, or with the use of an antenna? The same thing goes for satellite radio – what are you getting that you can’t get with your normal car stereo?

New cars The new car should be your last resort once you’ve inspected the wide variety of top-quality used cars available. Remember, businesses often just lease new cars and many barely-driven used cars come off of lease all the time.

Association memberships Homeowners association? Social clubs? When you’re paying membership fees in these groups, what are you really getting out of them? Are you getting sufficient value for what you pay?

Excessively large homes We have two adults and three kids in a moderately-sized four bedroom home in which one of the bedrooms is used as an office, yet we often ask ourselves why we need this much space. We might use this much effectively if it were reorganized, but even then, it would border on excessive.

Processed foods So often, I see foods that are just combinations of two or three items I can easily buy elsewhere in the store, except the single item costs substantially more than the other items combined. Almost always, things are less expensive when you go for simple ingredients rather than mixes.

Convenience store stops The prices of everything are higher at convenience stores. If you really must stop for a beverage each night, why not just buy them in bulk and keep them at home? Or, better yet, stop at a grocery store as part of your routine?

So often, little things can do just enough to make a big difference. Challenge yourself to make a little change to save money and see what happens.

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