Between tax season, monthly bills, and day-to-day spending, there are countless opportunities to lose your hard-earned money -- including many you may not even realize. The team at Kiplinger has compiled a list of 25 common money-wasters and provides helpful tips on how to stop wasting more money than you already have. Some of the advice is designed to trigger habits of steady saving that grow into a nice cushion over time, while other tips could produce vast, sudden, and sustained differences in your cash outflow.
Here's how to stop wasting money on upcoming shopping trips: When you take out the car, go easy on the pedal to get maximum gas mileage. Once you arrive at your destination, practice caution. Sales are not necessarily your friend. Unbelievably low prices could signal poor quality. Consider spending a little more for an item of higher quality in order to save on repairs and/or replacements in the long run.
Make a list of the products you need on a regular basis, such as toilet paper and diapers, or pantry items such as coffee and cereal. Bulk buying usually lowers the cost per unit. If you're interested in purchasing a gadget that's just been released, consider waiting a few months for the next generation, which typically promises design and performance improvements at a similar or lesser price. For example, in 2007 a Kindle cost $400, but a sleeker and more current model now sells for less than $150.
Turn big expenses into big wins.
Paying for an education, a home, healthcare -- these are all big investments that can turn into large amounts of wasted money. There are, however, potential gains to be had. Let's start with buying a home. As most everyone knows by now, millions of Americans struggle to pay the mortgage, endure foreclosure, and lose money when selling a house or apartment. If you have any doubts about buying, consider renting. This could save you thousands of dollars as well as years of worry.
How to stop wasting money on college is another question worth exploring. Sure, a college education sets the foundation for your career and financial well-being. But Kiplinger advises investing in an education that pays off sooner rather than later. Otherwise, it may be decades before your salary can cover your student debt. Check the Student Loan Advisor Calculator to see the size of the monthly payment you can afford given your expected salary.
You can also save hundreds of dollars by opting for convenient-care centers rather than the emergency room. Insurers often waive the co-pay when you use one of these lower-level facilities and increase the rate for non-emergency visits to the ER. But the best way to stop wasting money on health care is to make your own health a priority, with the goal of minimizing visits to health care providers.
Have a plan and take it slow.
A key takeaway from all Kiplinger's advice, says Browne, is simply to slow down. Impulse buys and taking action in a hurry both come at a great cost. So heed the old saying -- a little preparation goes a long way. Browne suggests devising a plan of attack that starts with a mental snapshot of your spending limit for the day. Then write it down and carry it with you. Browne notes that the power of the written word can make it a lot harder to buy things at random. Lastly, she advises, pay with cash. There's a reality check that comes with watching a wad of money dwindle before your eyes.