Nobody likes to admit to throwing money down the drain, but we're all guilty of it from time to time. Whether losing a few extra dollars at the store or few thousand more on a poor investment decision, we're all bound to set some bills on fire. Here are six types of bad purchases that you can avoid.
1. Online Bookings
The simplicity and ease of entering credit card information and pressing a single button — we're looking at you, Amazon — can lead to impulse buys, for sure. But the speed of online transacting also leads to pay for things that used to be free. Be wary the next time you make reservations online. A couple examples: There are websites (such as golfnow.com) dedicated to booking tee times at thousands of golf courses and other sites (like reserveamerica.com) that allow you to reserve campsites within thousands of parks. In both cases, you could avoid paying something like a $5-to-$15 fee by simply phoning to the course or park itself and making the reservation over the phone, cutting out the middle man and his open palm altogether.
2. ATM Fees
Banking with one of the giants, say Bank of America or Chase, won't stop you from finding yourself in need of cash with no in-network ATM in sight. It happens to everyone. To avoid a $2-to-$3 fee from an out-of-network ATM, plus another $2 to $3 from your bank itself, plan ahead. It's smart to always keep a reasonable amount of money in your wallet; for some of us, that number could be $40; for others, it could be $100. Take a look at your spending and determine what you might need to have on hand at a moment's notice.
3. Membership Dues
You've heard this one before. But there's something that doesn't get as much air time. Once you've decided that you're not getting enough value out of your gym, for example, make sure to cancel or freeze your membership. Too often, in feeling guilty for not going to the gym often enough, we don't act fast enough to avoid more monthly dues. One pro tip: Look for gyms that offer a first-month trial or discount with no long-term commitments. You can decide after 30 days whether to set up an auto-payment on your credit or debit card.
4. Ticket Fees
The Ticketmasters and Stubhubs of the world charge significant fees when you buy tickets online to see a band, comedian or sporting event live. Before finalizing your next purchase, investigate other ticketsellers. The one that's least likely to avoid transaction fees is the venue itself. More than once, we have purchased tickets online to shows that still had tickets for sale at the box office on the day of the event. If you're willing to risk showing up for a sold-out event, you could easily save $10-plus per stub.
5. Ride-sharing App Services
Pick-up and drop-off service of any kind can become addicting. With ride-sharing specifically, the convenience is so great that you may end up compromising on how often you actually use an app like Uber of Lyft. To avoid spending more than you should, answer some questions about your transportation habits. In what scenarios are you willing to pay for ride-sharing? And in what scenarios are you better off walking, biking or taking the bus or train? Having answers in advance should set some ground rules, limiting how often you queue up the app on your phone.
6. Eating out Too Often
There's no one-size-fits-all approach here. Depending upon your diet, schedule, family size and cost of living — as well as a host of other variables — meal costs vary for everyone. A general rule of thumb, however, is that making your own breakfast, lunch and dinner will be cheaper than paying someone else to do it for you. More time-intensive too, for sure, but if you're looking to trim the fat, see how you can cut your grocery spending while, perhaps, setting a limit on the number of nights you eat out per week.
This story originally appeared on ValuePenguin.