Stop throwing money away in the trash and down the drain! Check out these 21 surprising ways you are wasting money and put a stop to it right away!


Did you know that over 80% of Americans admit to throwing away money in one form or another? Could you be throwing money away too without realizing it?

If you have a hunch that you’re wasting money, I bet you’re blaming “eating out” as the biggest culprit (I was too). That is something we KNOW (and choose) to do that can waste money.

What about those things we are wasting our money on without even knowing it?

Because everyone knows you’re wasting money by paying late fees on your bills or buying a last-minute candy bar (or magazine) while waiting in the checkout line (something you are only buying because you are a captive audience).

Today I’m sharing 21 mindless ways you’re wasting money, (and how to conquer them) so you can keep your money IN your wallet instead.

Because you’ve got to stop throwing money away!

These tips to stop wasting money will help you take a serious look at your spending habits. Plus, how to stop wasting money tips will set you up for a lifetime of saving success.

throwing money

1. Not Scanning Receipts (Or Sharing Apps With Friends)

If you are not scanning your receipts then you’re throwing money away right along with that receipt.

The simplest receipt scanning app is Fetch. (Join here and get 2,000 bonus points worth $2.) Even my teen sons love to use this app (and earn the gift cards)… now that’s saying something!

Just open the app and scan a receipt and you’ll get points you can turn into Amazon gift cards in minutes.

My second favorite app is one called Dosh. (Get $10 FREE when you sign up for Dosh using my link here.)

The reason I love this app is because it runs in the background and I don’t have to do anything… I just see the notifications that I’ve earned FREE money.

Simply connect your debit and/or credit cards and it monitors your purchases and when you shop at certain retailers you earn cashback.

For doing NOTHING! You don’t have to select or choose anything beforehand at all.

But do you wanna know how to REALLY make money with apps? Tell your friends about them! Referrals are the way to maximize your savings BIG TIME!

Ibotta will give you $10 for every friend who signs up using your referral link.
The Honey Deal Toolbar is another one that gives you $5 for everyone who joins using your referral link. (I use the Honey toolbar ALL the time!)

Cost Avoided: At least $5 FREE every week sharing your link with friends & scanning receipts = $260 per year wasted!

throwing money

2. Buying Woman Specific Healthcare Items (aka the “Pink Tax”)

Did you know that woman’s products cost an average of 7% more than men’s? It’s the so-called “Pink Tax.” And it burns my britches!

When reaching for items on the shelf, always opt for the “gender neutral” colors or varieties of things and NOT the pink ones.

Because the pink versions of earplugs, laxatives and calculators cost more. Huffington post shows pink tax images proof here.

My local news station did a story on this topic and then analyzed identical men’s and woman’s products such as deodorants and shaving products and the only thing that could justify the increased price was skincare products. They found that woman’s items had more moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients making them cost more.

But razors and shaving cream? C’mon now. I’ve used both, and I prefer the men’s kind. The only difference I noticed, was in the way it was packaged because it didn’t have feminine colors or sparkles.

Get rid of the pink colors (and scents) in the bathroom and save some cash!

Men’s Disposable Razors 4 ct @ $8.85 vs. Women’s Disposable Razors 3 ct @ $13.79

Cost Avoided: Difference of $4.94 @ 6 times purchased each year = $29.64 wasted!


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

throwing money

3. Not Making Ingredient Substitutions

Did you realize that Greek Yogurt can substitute FIVE baking items in almost a 1:1 ratio? And it’s wayyyyy cheaper than its counterparts like cottage cheese and sour cream.

There are actually 10 things I substitute regularly to save money on my grocery bill.

And it’s not only the money savings benefit, once I realized I could have shelf-stable ingredients that cost less and don’t sacrifice taste (or quality), I felt like a subsitution genius.

It was a simple way to save extra money while not being dependant on running up to the grocery store when I was out of a certain ingredient. Win-Win!

throwing money

4. Not Pausing to Compare Prices

We all have our favorite items, but just think how much you could be saving by taking two seconds and not grabbing the same thing you usually buy and instead comparing prices to choose something slightly cheaper.

Maybe it’s an item on sale or it’s a store brand item, but something just $.50 cheaper can really add up over the course of a year.

Start comparing the prices of the items you buy with a cheaper variety to challenge yourself to save just fifty cents extra on one item weekly and you’ll save $26 a year.

Here’s how quickly it adds up:

Cost Avoided: 1 item per week @ $.50 cost difference = $26 per year SAVED!
Cost Avoided: 10 items per week @ $1 cost difference = $520 per year SAVED!

throwing money

5. Buying Individually Packaged Foods

Chopped salad mixes? Sliced apples? Veggie platters? Grab your chef’s knife and start chopping!

There is no reason to pay extra just to have these items chopped up already.

Chop your own salad. Cut up your own apples, and cut the veggies for the platter. Then watch the savings add up too.

Let’s investigate further with fruit:

A whole pineapple usually goes on sale for $2.99.
Cut up pineapple costs $4.94/lb.
That’s a difference of $1.95.

Seedless Red Grapes cost $1.99/lb
Packages combo seedless grapes cost $4.49/lb.
The difference of $2.50.

Cost Avoided: $2.50 + $1.95 per week = $231.40 per year wasted!

throwing money

6. Grocery Shopping When You’re Hungry

We all know how frustrating it is to shop for groceries when you’re hungry, even if you’re just barely hungry.

And that goes for your kids too. There’s nothing worse than hungry kids in a grocery store wanting to put every snack in the cart!

When you shop hungry, you are way more susceptible to buying extra stuff that you don’t need or that you’ll waste later. {I know I’m bad about giving in to my kids’ wants when I’m hungry too.}

The only thing worse than shopping hungry is shopping hungry without a list. That is a disaster. {Ask me how I know…}

Get ahead of the hunger by keeping a snack bar in your purse, or a packet of almonds, or just splurge and buy those items upfront right when you walk in the door, then eat one and keep shopping.

I promise it’ll save you later.

Cost Avoided: 2 extra items at $3 each per week = $312 wasted!

throwing money

7. Check Your Pantry “Inventory” Before You Shop

How many times have you gotten back from the store only to find that you bought something you already had on hand?

I have done this countless times with spices. I can never remember if I have paprika or celery seed, so I buy it when I’m at the store just to get home to find that I already had some.

And spices can get expensive!

You’ve gotta get into the habit of checking your pantry for ingredients before you head out.

Print this handy Kitchen Inventory Sheet so you won’t be caught overbuying.

This is not just for your food pantry. Think about those office supplies you overbuy because you are unsure you have enough at home.

I have done this countless times with tape. Finally, I decided to create a “Tape Drawer”.

Yes, I realize it sounds kinda ridiculous, but it works. I no longer buy tape when I’m out getting other office supplies. I know I have it at home in the tape drawer!

Before I leave to go buy a gift, I pull out all the items I’m gonna need to get that present ready for the recipient.

Tape? Check. Card? Check. Gift Bag? Nope… but I’ve got tissue paper or newspaper comics so that’s taken care of as well. Check.

Now, when I go to the store I am not sideswiping my budget and spending money on things I already have on hand.

This was a huge step for me. I’ve really stopped throwing money away on stuff I already have.

Cost Avoided: 1 extra spice jar per week @ $4.50 = $234 wasted!

throwing money

8. Grocery Shopping More Than Once A Week

If marketers have figured out that you spend more money when you stay in the store, imagine how much more you spend if you go back several times a week?!

I realize we don’t like to deny ourselves and wait to have something, but if you simply delay going to get those extra items you’re missing until your weekly shopping trip, then you’ll get into a habit of buying more appropriately to fit your family’s needs.

Plus, you’ll not only save money by spending less on groceries, but you’ll also save on gas too because you’re making fewer trips! You’ll be saving money instead of throwing money away.

Believe me when I tell you this was my downfall.

I would often forget so many things each week and one quick trip into the store often led to another $100 grocery bill.

Why? Because I can never stick to just my list!

Even my kids know me better by now. The last time I went in for “just a few things”, my kids bet each other behind my back how many items I would tack on to the bill.

With a household of six, we are constantly running out of things so I would pick it up while I was there.

Recently have I started doing a curbside pick-up for my groceries and I send one of my teenager drivers to go get it. This helps me stick to my list and helps me save money by not having to go into the store.

Cost Avoided: 3 extra items @ $3 each @ 2 times per week = $936 wasted!

throwing money

9. Only Shopping At One Store

While having store loyalty can pay off in rewards, grocery shopping is not one of them.

I noticed that a local meat market in my area had MUCH cheaper grass-fed beef per pound than the grocery stores where I was shopping. So on my normal shopping day (only one day of the week remember), I always plan to stop off at the meat market on my way home and stock up on meat (actually I plan my shopping day based on the best sale day at the meat market because that is the biggest part of our grocery spending).

So I’ll do the majority of my grocery shopping at one store, and then whip by the meat market for meat on our way home. My kids haaaaaate it. But it’s saving me at least $50 per week by shopping this way.

Unless doing this is helping you avoid impulse purchases, or they genuinely have the lowest prices, you are missing a bunch of great deals that other stores are offering.

Here’s an example of the local prices of eggs in my area:

My local grocery store Large Eggs dozen: $1.97
Walmart Large Eggs dozen: $1.18
Aldi Eggs dozen: $0.88

If you consume a ton of eggs like my family does, then it might be worth it to add Aldi to your store rotation (and pick up a couple extra dozen while you’re there) so that you save some extra money over the course of the month.

Don’t forget about produce stands and Farmer’s Markets to save on your produce too. You’ll usually find cheaper prices there than at your larger grocery store chains.

Cost Avoided: (1) dozen difference = $56.68 per year wasted!

throwing money

10. Grocery Shopping Without A Time Constraint

If you want to spend less on your groceries, you’ve gotta stop leisurely grocery shopping.

Yes, I understand that it might be your one time out without the kids this week, but there are even scientific studies proving how you spend more money the longer you stay in a store.

Trust me, I know how it goes… it’s fun to compare products and explore the new items and samples.


Instead, make your trip when you have other errands to do and only a certain amount of time to do them, you’re less likely to spend time exploring all the aisles and picking up more food than you originally planned on buying.

You want to stop throwing money away! This is a simple way to do it, by spending less time in the store.

I usually put the timer on my phone and see if I can beat my time. I try to get all the groceries in the cart before the timer goes off. That helps me save money big time and helps me stick to my list too.

Cost Avoided: 4 extra items @ $2 each week = $4.16 wasted!

throwing money

11. Freeze Everything (Including Leftovers)

If something is a great deal, stocking up can save you a ton of money on your grocery budget, especially meat.

By freezing the items you can’t use before they go bad, you are extending the life of that sale and allowing yourself to stretch that grocery budget further.

You can freeze everything from cheese to full meals.

Let’s chat through a real-life example of buying meat. Say the regular price of lean ground beef is normally $5.69/lb at your local grocery store. It will most likely go all the way down to $3.49/lb on sale about every other month (the typical sales cycle).

That’s a cost difference of $2.20/lb.

When you stock up and buy it when it’s on sale and freeze it, that will save you over $200 in JUST ground beef. Imagine if you did this with ALL your meat?! Just watch for the sales and stock up when they are on sale.

Not to mention freezing leftovers before they go bad. Or making extra when you make a meal specifically to freeze so that you have frozen meals ready to eat and avoid the extra expense of eating out or going through a drive-thru.

Cost Avoided: Two 2-lb packages per week not on sale @ $2.20/lb difference = $228.80 per year wasted!

throwing money

12. Buying A Snack When You Get Gas Or A Drink When You Check Out

I can’t tell you how many times my hubby, James, and I have had an argument because our gas budget went outta control.

It turned out he was buying a hot dog meal every time he went to pay inside at the gas station.

The best way to win over this was to use cash.

When you’re out, you’re out.

We decided that James would pay cash for gas and that way he could still have the “treat” but within the limitations of our budget.

But then I realized I was just as guilty. <womp> <womp>

Have you ever stood in those long lines at the checkout line waiting to pay for your groceries and got thirsty?

Me too!

And how convenient that they have those little coolers just waiting on you to be thirsty (or to make you think you’re thirsty) right there where you’re waiting in line?!

So you grab one because…it’s only $1.69. Not too bad when you’re spending $100+ on regular groceries. At least that’s what we say to ourselves.

But when you do the math, that $1.69 convenience drink is such a waste of money! Compared to a 2-liter bottle of soda, it’s such a money waster.

Once I realized how much money I was wasting, I now bring my own drink with me wherever I go. A really large one. That way I can’t talk myself into buying a drink because I already have one in the car.

SCORE one more on how to stop wasting money tips!

Hot Dog Cost Avoided: Hot Dog @ $1.69 + Drink @ $1.69 per week = $175.76 per year wasted!
Soda Cost Avoided: $1.69 x every week = $87.88 wasted. (Just think, this could actually pay for a week of groceries for some families!)


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

throwing money

13. Create A Meal Plan 

It always amazes me just how many people don’t use a meal plan.

This small, simple step could save you hundreds off your grocery bill every week, yet many people don’t do it.

I promise you, meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult.

If you have no idea where to start (or how easy it can actually be), here are some meal planning articles that can help get you started.

Cost Avoided: 1 extra eating dinner out of the house per week @ $40 each meal = $2,080 wasted!

throwing money

14. Tough Love: Making In-App Purchases

I once had an obsession with the Tap Fish App. I was playing it along with my children and no matter how many fish I bred I still needed to buy some extra.

But I’ve also been obsessed with BeJeweled, Candy Crush, and Disney’s Emoji Blitz too. My hubby still plays Clash Royale (that was a $14.99 lesson we learned the hard way!).

When the cell phone bill came I realized that those little $4.99 purchases for “coins” significantly added up. Yikes!

Suddenly I felt shame and regret instead of victory.

Me, really throwing money away! It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Try to remove your credit card info from any sites or apps where you play games, and if you get really frustrated by a level you just can’t seem to beat, Google a cheat or how-to guide.

So many people on the internet are willing to share their strategies with you! Let them!

Just being aware of NOT falling for the “extra lives” deal needs to be mentioned.

Hey, maybe it’s not games, but it’s a Moon Phase App with an annual fee or an in-app upgrade to learn about plants.

Gosh, there are a million different apps out there and they all seem to have an “upgrade” of some kind.

Be aware and read the fine print so you don’t get caught off guard and pay later.

Cost Avoided: $0.99 per week at a minimum = $51.48 per year wasted!

throwing money

15. Paying for Sodas (and Kids Eat Free Everywhere)

Why are you paying $2.50 for a soda at dinner? That is adding $10 to your bill for a family of four, just for drinks.

I know it feels awkward to ask for water when you sit down.

Get over it.

It’s a luxury to eat at a restaurant… the soda is just raising your bill instead of keeping money in your pocket.

Ask for water instead – it’s FREE! Plus you can ask for lemons to help enhance the flavor if you’re not a fan of water.

I bring packets of “True Lemon” and sweetener with me in my purse and make no-sugar lemonade. A simple solution to save more money!

And don’t even get me started about the markup on alcohol at bars and restaurants. Your little glass of wine can be marked up to 400%!!

When my kids were little, we decided where we went out to eat based on which restaurant had “Kids Eat Free” that day.

As you go to your favorite restaurants ask what days they offer kids eat free, then note it in a little calendar so you will have it next time.

Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, and Chick-Fil-A offer them consistently, just sign up for their email to be alerted.

Want to try a new restaurant where Kids Eat Free? Visit MyKidsEatFree.com and look up your town. They list restaurants and show the days. (I’d just make sure to call ahead to double-check.)

Find more ways to save when you go out to eat with your family.

Soda Cost Avoided: 4 sodas at $2.50 each per meal per week = $520 wasted!
Kids Meal Cost Avoided: 2 kids per family at $6 per meal per week = $624 wasted!

throwing money

16. Leaving On The Electronic Vampires

The hair straightener. The printer. You may not think these things are costing you anything, but check out your electric bill after making a conscious effort to turn these types of items off when they’re not in use and you’ll probably notice a significant difference.

I’ve done extensive research (you’re welcome!) and I’ve found that each light bulb costs about $1 per month. So turning off those lights is important too.

You can thank me after you read these other tips for reducing your electric bill without turning up the thermostat.

With the invention of CFL and LED light bulbs, this may not seem like a big deal anymore.

But when you add in the cost for the air conditioning, heating, and appliances, your electric bill does add up quickly.

There are other items you can turn off that can make a bigger impact on your electric bills. Since you don’t use your printer, computer or WiFi while you are out of the house, turn them off.

Just plug them into a power strip and flip the switch before you walk out the door (and when you go to bed at night). I have mine connected to the outlet on the wall, so when I turn off the lights in the room, it all turns off with it.

Your wallet will thank you next month.

Cost Avoided: Leaving WiFi, printer, and computer on daily = $200 per year wasted!

throwing money

17. Paying ATM Fees (But Here’s a Simple Solution)

I hate to even mention this point, but I learned that many of my friends, who have children, don’t think about the alternative to the inconvenience of getting money out of their out-of-network ATM.

They just want to use the drive-through cash machine and get money wherever they can.

But it’ll cost you well over $4 to withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM.

And, some banks charge you double, a fee from the ATM AND a fee from your bank.

So that $20 just became $26 total out of your bank account.

Stop throwing money away. There’s no reason to pay those fees.

Here’s a simple solution: Get cash at the grocery store or Walmart/Target; whenever you make another purchase.

Almost every store offers a “cash back” option when you are already buying something, especially grocery stores.

Don’t make a second trip to the drive-through at someone else’s bank when you can get your cash and a candy bar and save money at the same time.

Heck, buying a 79¢ unneeded candy bar or gum will save you $3.21 over the ATM fee you would’ve spent.

Last time I checked, it was better to spend 79¢ and get a candy bar or gum versus spending $2 and getting nothing.

Cost Avoided: $6 at least once per week = $312 per year wasted!

throwing money

18. Unused Subscriptions

For a while, I absolutely LOVED getting magazines in the mail, but then I became a mommy and had no time to read them, yet I forgot to cancel the subscriptions.

I kept receiving them in hopes I would have time someday, but each month as the new one came in, I threw the old one out.

Bummer that I wasted all that money.

You might also have a gym membership, Netflix or Hulu, or even one of those fancy beauty boxes or meal subscriptions coming out of your bank account each month. Or maybe you’re paying for an essential oil subscription?

If you don’t use the products, you are just wasting money.

But let’s talk about one more thing you may be forgetting…the Amazon subscribe & save option. Yup! I’m totally guilty here too!

At the beginning of the year, I bought a low-carb sweetener from Amazon.

The price was good and a 3-lb bag seemed right for what I needed.

Well, I somehow signed up for the subscription.

The second bag came the next month and I thought, “well this is cool”!

When the third bag came I realized what I had done and I was able to postpone the shipment for several months but by the time that shipment came I no longer used that sweetener anymore and now I’ve paid for something I don’t need.

The point is…if you aren’t using the product right away and don’t need it – cancel the subscription!

Start saving more with these how to stop wasting money tips!

Netflix Cost Avoided: Netflix @ $10 per month = $120 wasted!
Monkfruit Cost Avoided: 3 extra bags waiting to be used = $75 wasted!

throwing money

19. Paying For Coffee

Yes, I went there.

I know everyone tells you this and makes you feel guilty, but here’s the thing, I used to stop every day at my favorite coffee shop while running my kids around town.

Once I realized how much money I was actually spending per week, I stopped it so fast!

If your habit is bad like mine was, then I’m gonna have to give you some tough love and tell you to “kick it to the curb” if you want to stop throwing money away.

Most likely your coffee habit isn’t cheap. And while we consider a fancy coffee a “treat”, if it’s a daily habit, then it’s not “treating” your wallet very nicely.

It’s time to start making your coffee at home.

I know what you’re thinking…but they make my coffee just the way I like it!

There are a TON of copycat recipes for your favorite hot or iced beverage on Pinterest.

You can learn how to make it yourself and still save a boatload of money even after you buy the ingredients.

Cost Avoided: Let’s say you are spending $4.50 per day, and only going 4 days when the kids are in school 36 weeks of the year = $648 wasted!


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

throwing money

20. Paying For Shipping When Shopping Online

Shipping is another one of those things I never pay for, but recently, I’ve been duped or blinded by the sale and had to pay for shipping. Ugh! I hate that especially when a free shipping promo code is always just a google search away!

If you’re shopping online and can’t avoid a shipping fee, check and see if they offer a “ship to store” option to make the shipping FREE, and then simply pick up your package at the store on your next errand run.

Most stores have a “free shipping” threshold allowing you to get free shipping just for shopping strategically to avoid paying shipping fees. Hey, even Amazon offers this meaning you wouldn’t need to pay for that expensive Prime membership (yes, there are ways to save without Prime).

Cost Avoided: At about $10 shipping fee per month = at least $120 wasted!

throwing money

21. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

This is something I never did until I learned how much money I was wasting.

Were you aware that sometimes too much wiggle room in your tires can actually worsen your car’s gas mileage?

Did you know that you lose 1% of fuel efficiency for every 2 pounds of air under the required level? While that doesn’t seem like a lot, the cost quickly adds up!

The problem is that your car doesn’t alert you when it’s underinflated. It only alerts you when it’s severely underinflated. So you need to check it regularly (monthly is good) and add a couple “pounds” of pressure.

Keeping your tires properly inflated will help you save money on gas you didn’t even know you were losing.

Plus, not having your tires properly inflated wears them out faster, further costing you more money in having to replace them sooner.

Set up a regular alert on your phone to check them on the first fill-up of the month so you don’t forget to check.

Here’s how to find your tire pressure just in case you’re not a mechanic and weren’t sure what to do like me. (Important note: It is NOT the number listed on the tire, that’s the MAX pressure number)

{Side Note: Wawa has FREE air compressor machines so you can do this for no cost}

Don’t forget! There are also ways to save more on your gas costs too!

Cost Avoided: Averaging about 144 extra gallons of fuel burned per year @ $3 per gallon = $432 wasted!

So as you can see there are many ways you could be throwing money away!

I was so surprised at how many of these little things can add up to one huge amount that you could be saving!

These tips to stop wasting money will help you take a serious look at your spending habits.

So now is the time to be honest with yourself, see just how much money you are wasting, and figure out how you can be saving more! Because isn’t that the goal?!!

Because you’ve got to stop throwing money away!

21 Surprising Ways You Are Wasting Money And Don\'t Even Know It