Stop throwing money away in the trash and down the drain! Check out these 20 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).

So today I’m sharing 20 other mindless ways you’re wasting money, and how to combat them so you can keep your money IN your wallet instead.

Because you’ve got to stop throwing money away!

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

throwing money

1. 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 can actually worsen your car’s gas mileage?

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

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

Plus, not having your tires air properly wears them out faster costing you more money in replacement fees.

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!

Here’s how to find your tire pressure just in case.

Don’t forget! You can save more on your car insurance and save more on your fuel costs too!

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


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throwing money

2. ATM Fees (And A Solution)

I hate to even mention this bullet 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 and get cash wherever they can. But it’ll cost you well over $4 to withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM.

And, there are even some banks that will charge you extra for using an out-of-network ATM. So you’re paying double just for that cash. The fee from the ATM AND the fee from your bank.

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

So stop throwing money away! There’s no reason to pay those fees!

Here’s a simple solution: Get cash when you make another purchase!

So many stores offer 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.

Save more with these tips to stop wasting money!

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

throwing money

3. Paying for Kids Meals & Soda

Every day of the week there is a restaurant where kids eat free.

When we decide to go out to eat, we think…which restaurant has “Kids Eat Free” today?

As you go to your favorite restaurants find out 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 very 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 verify!

And why are you paying $2.50 for a soda at dinner? A family of four would now pay $10 extra just for drinks!

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. But in all reality, I think you can drink water for one meal a week at a restaurant to save some extra money.

I bring sweetener packets with me in my purse and make lemonade with my lemons. 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%!! 

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

Kids Meal Cost: 2 kids per family at $6 per meal per week = $624 wasted!

Soda Cost: 4 sodas at $2.50 each per meal per week = $520 wasted!

throwing money

4. Leaving The Lights & Electronic Items On

The hair straightener. The cable box. 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.

But 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!

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

throwing money

5. 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, but forgot to cancel the subscriptions. I kept getting 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 could also have a gym membership, Netflix or Hulu, or even those new fancy beauty boxes and meal subscriptions coming out of your account each month.

Or even those essential oil subscriptions? Could you make them a smaller order each month?

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

But let’s talk about one more thing you may be forgetting…the Amazon subscription. Yup! I’ve 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”! The third bag came and then I realized what I had done. I was able to postpone the shipment for several months, then used what I had, and then got some more. Then I forgot about postponing the shipment again. Well, now I’m the proud owner of four 3-lb bags of Monkfruit!

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

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

Netflix Cost: Netflix @ $10 per month = $120 wasted!

Monkfruit Cost: 4 bags waiting to be used = $80 wasted!

throwing money

6. Buying Men’s or Woman’s Specific Items

I was so frustrated to learn that woman’s products cost an average of 7% more than men’s. It’s the so-called “Pink Tax”! It burns my britches!! 

When my local news station took identical men’s and woman’s products to the pharmacy for a formal comparison, they found that woman’s items had more moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients making them cost more.

But razors? 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 and it didn’t have girly colors or sparkles.

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

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

throwing money

7. Buying A Snack When You Fill Up Or A Drink When You Check Out

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

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

The best way to win over this is 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 limits of our budget!

But then I realized I was just as guilty.

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). 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 a 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: Hot Dog @ $1.69 + Drink @ $1.69 per week = $175.76 per year wasted!

Soda Cost: $1.69 x every week = $87.88 wasted. (Just think, this could actually pay for a week of groceries for some families!)

throwing money

8. Making In-App Game 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 them.

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

Suddenly I felt shame and regret instead of victory. Me, really throwing money away! It hit me like a ton of bricks. 

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!

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

throwing money

9. Grocery Shopping When You’re Hungry

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

And that goes for your kids too. Feed them a PB&J if you have to. There’s nothing worse than hungry kids in a grocery store!

When you do, 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…

Make yourself a quick and dirty list — even if it’s just on your phone in the parking lot before you enter the store.

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, then eat one and keep shopping. It’ll save you later.

Cost: 2 extra items at $3 each per week = $312 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, WATCH OUT FOR THE SAMPLES LADIES!

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!

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

throwing money

11. Paying For Coffee

Yes, I went there.

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”, 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 recipes and 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: Let’s say you are spending $4.50 per day, at a minimum Monday-Friday x 52 weeks = $1,170 wasted!

throwing money

12. 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 must order 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 your shipment up at the store on your next errand run.

You could be saving more with these tips to stop wasting money!

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


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throwing money

13. 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, but if you simply delay going to get those extra items you are missing until your weekly shopping trip once or twice, 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 curb pick-up for my groceries and I send one of my 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: 3 extra items @ $3 each @ 2 times per week = $936 wasted!

throwing money

14. Buying Individually Packaged Foods

Baby carrots? 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.

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

Let’s investigate further:

A whole pineapple usually goes on sale for $2.99.
Cut up pineapple costs $4.94/lb.
The 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: $2.50 + $1.95 per week = $231.40 per year wasted!

throwing money

15. Check “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 and spices can get expensive! Especially if it is a last-minute grocery run and you haven’t planned with a coupon.

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

Print this handy Pantry 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 wrapping paper. I know I have it at home in the tape drawer! This was a huge step for me. I’ve really stopped throwing money away on stuff I already have.

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.

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

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

throwing money

16. Create A Meal Plan 

It always amazes me just how many people don’t have a meal plan!

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

Meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult!

If you have no idea where to start, here are some meal planning articles that can help get you started.

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

throwing money

17. Freeze Anything (Including Leftovers)

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

By buying things on sale, you can get them at their lowest price point.

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!

The regular price of lean ground beef is normally $5.69/lb at Publix. It goes all the way down to $3.49/lb on sale about every other month. The cost difference of $2.20/lb!

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

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18. Only Shopping At One Store

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

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!

This doesn’t just include grocery stores either!

Sometimes you will find great deals on household items at drugstores, but you’ll end up just throwing whatever is on sale in your cart at the grocery store because you’re already there. Those items are easily double and busting your grocery budget!

Publix Large Eggs dozen: $1.97
Walmart Large Eggs dozen: $1.18
Aldi Eggs dozen: $0.88

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

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19. Not Maximizing Your Savings Using Rebate Apps, Digital Coupons, Or Shopping Sales

If you are not using digital coupons, rebate apps, or shopping sales, you are leaving money on the table each time you leave the store!

If you are not using paper coupons, you should at least be shopping sales! You are just handing over your hard-earned money to the store!

You should at least use digital coupons because they are quick to load to your account. They can quickly save you money on what you are already purchasing.

Before every shopping trip, take a look at your weekly sales flyer to see if any of the items you need are on sale, and see if you can adjust your meal plan to match the sales.

Once you’ve done this, look and see if you can find any coupons for any of the items that you need.

At Publix Angel Soft Toilet Paper goes on sale.
Regular Price: $7.09
Sale Price: $4.99
After Coupon Price: $3.99
Sale Price Cost Difference: $2.10
Coupon Price: Difference: $3.10

You should also be using rebate apps like Fetch and Ibotta. They are not hard to use and with the Fetch app, you can basically use any receipt to earn points.

Sign up for Fetch Points! Enter my referral code, BQ1CF, during the signup and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points!) when you complete one receipt

Cost: (2) pkgs. of TP per month on sale with no coupon difference = $218.40 per year wasted!


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throwing money

20. Substituting

We all have our favorite items, but just think how much you could be saving by substituting one item each shopping trip for something cheaper.

Maybe it’s an item on sale or it’s a store brand item, but something even $.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 see if you can save money.

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

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.

Plus, these how to stop wasting money tips will set you up for a lifetime of saving success.

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!


YOUR TURN: Comment below with other ways you’ve found to stop throwing money away! I’d love to hear them!

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