Unless you're a robot, you probably don't have a perfect budget. Nor should you. What fun is it to go through life like a walking spreadsheet, never doing anything spontaneous or splurging a little?
But you don't have to be a robot to realize you're probably wasting a little money here and there. Not everything you pay for is worth it, and you know this. What you might not know is some things in life aren't worth paying for at all--period.
If you haven't done so already, it's time to ditch the landline and rely on your cell phone to make all your incoming and outgoing calls. Cell coverage is nearly universal and, like it or not, many people now treat their cell phones like a 5th limb that can tweet and take selfies.
The average American pays $71 toward cell service a month, so it's not prudent to be paying extra for something as redundant as landline service, even if it's less than $25 per month.
Something to look our for: Telecomm providers often offer deals on TV and internet service by bundling them together with landline service. This may save you money in the short-term, but there's a good chance that after 12 months, your landline service could jump from $0 a month to $35. Always be sure to read the fine print on promo offers that seem to good to be true.
2. Extended Warranties On Electronics
Electronics retailers love to offer customers an extended warranty as they're checking out, and while peace of mind might seem worth it, you should pass on it.
Here's why: Despite public perception, electronics are more reliable than we realize. For example, only 4.3 percent of brand-name LCD TVs break and require repair. Even if you're among the unlucky 4.3 percent with a broken TV, there's a good chance you're covered, IF you bought the TV on a credit card. Most major credit cards offer a warranty that double the manufacturer's, which is usually 1 year on an HDTV. Make sure to read your card's terms and conditions before assuming anything, though.
Extended warranties differ from retailer to retailer, but they tend to cost around $120 for two-year extended plan on an HDTV (giving you three years of coverage total). The extra year of coverage might be nice, but is it worth it? The answer is no - you're better off playing the odds that your TV won't break.
3. Lottery Tickets
I hate to break it to you, but you're not going to hit it rich playing the lotto.
Your chances of winning the Powerball are 1 in 175,000,000. That's all that really needs to be said on the matter.
What about other forms of lottery, like scratch-off tickets? Your odds aren't as bad as the Powerball, but they're still against you. In Illinois — my home state — scratch-off lottery odds are listed online, so you can see exactly what you're getting into. For a $5 "Ca$h Money" game ticket, the odds of scoring a prize are 3.92 to 1. In other words, if you buy 392 tickets, you can expect to have 100 winners. Keep in mind that many of those winners won't be big jackpots (some will probably be only a few dollars).
4. Smartphone Screen Protectors
Smartphone accessories are among the most marked-up items for sale, period, and the worst offenders are screen protectors.Buying a screen protector might make sense on the surface — your phone is important to you and it's expensive. Why not invest a little to protect it? Let's run through a few things.
First, a screen protector isn't going to stop your screen from cracking if it's dropped without a case. It only guards it from scratches. You should definitely invest in a case for your phone to protect it from hard falls. Cases aren't a waste of money.
Second, there are relatively few hazards out there that are able to scratch your phone. Most smartphone screens are built with Gorilla Glass, a scratch-resistant material. The "softest" item capable of scratching Gorilla Glass? A hardened steel file. Items that can't scratch it? Coins, house keys, and even kitchen knives.
Simply put, nothing in your pocket or purse is a threat to your screen. Save $25 and don't buy a screen protector.
5. Your Credit Report
If you're interested in keeping tabs on your credit report — and you should be — you should never pay a dime for it.
If you have a credit card, chances are one of your free card services is credit report monitoring. Discover and Chase-issued cards offer it, and many other cards do, too. If your card provider doesn't offer it, give them a call and ask — it never hurts. Also, try Credit Karma. It's a free credit monitoring site, and while it won't give you your FICO score for free, you can still get a good enough idea of where your credit score stands.
This one is most applicable during the holiday season, but it still holds true throughout most of the year. From Black Friday through the end of December, retail is so competitive that someone out there is always offering free shipping on the item you want.
If you have Amazon Prime (our analysis: you should — it's worth it), 2-day shipping is free on everything sold directly by Amazon, which is a significant amount of stuff. Other retailers, like Walmart, Best Buy and Target, won't always offer free shipping, but free in-store pick-up is usually an option. It's not as convenient as having the item delivered to your door, but it's free.