11 Things I Did to Stop Wasting Money

11 Things I Did to Stop Wasting Money

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  • Post last modified:March 19, 2020
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Do you waste a lot of money? Would you like to stop wasting money? I know this can be a pain point for a lot of people, but the good news is that there are some simple, straightforward solutions you can implement to get your finances in order.

Saving money can seem like a pain, but it really doesn’t have to be. These strategies mostly focus on simplifying the process so that penny-pinching isn’t necessary.

Although frugality is important to me, so is having a productive and happy life! And, indeed, there’s no reason to think you can’t do the same.

Why Do People Waste Money?

There are lots of reasons people waste money, but I imagine the main reason is that we all lead very busy lives. Even though many of the items on this list don’t take much time at all to implement, spending any amount of time on anything can seem like too much when you’re busy.

But that is just one side of it. I think many people don’t realize how easy it is to stop wasting money. You hear a lot of talk about skipping your morning coffee. Plus other expenses that are really pretty small.

Whatever the reason people waste money, I’m going to help you spend less in a more productive way.

How to Stop Wasting Money

So, how do we stop wasting money? Instead of thinking about your morning latte or going to the bar on the weekends, we should consider the bigger expenses.

Why? Because these expenses are, well, bigger. They make up the biggest part of our budget – even if we don’t think about them as often.

I tend to refer to this as the “big three” – housing, transportation, and food. But there are others. Here, we’ll focus on those categories, plus a few others.

1. Cut Back on Housing Expenses

This is my most common suggestion because it is potentially the most powerful. That’s because it is the single biggest expense most of us have, accounting for around 25% of our budgets.

 

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last year, I moved into a house with roommates and it cut my rent in half.

But that is far from the only way to reduce your housing costs. Here is a quick list of some other ways to save on housing:

  1. House hack – rent out spare bedrooms, or buy a multi-family home and rent out the other units
  2. Become a full-time house sitter – live rent-free while seeing some amazing sights
  3. Live in an RV or mobile home
  4. Get a tiny house

For more ideas, see my complete post about ways to save on housing.

For the record, I’m aware that many of these ideas won’t work for everyone. However, if you have the means to do so, you should definitely consider attacking your housing expenses first.

I cut my rent in half when I moved in with roommates. Referencing the data above (which is already outdated), you have around $20,000 in housing expenses if you are average.

Cutting that in half would mean saving $10,000 per year. That is a crazy amount of savings, which is why I always recommend this option first.

2. Bought an Electric Vehicle

One of the common misconceptions about electric vehicles is that they are inherently more costly than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, but the opposite is actually true.

Why? One word: gas. Well, gas, and other things, like maintenance. But gas is the main thing.

I leased a Chevy Volt in 2018 (the second to last model year). I’m only mentioning this to show I actually went electric, though the way I did it is actually not the most economical way.

Stop Wasting Money Chevrolet Volt

In fact, we are probably at least three years away from the point where the used electric vehicle market becomes mature enough for the masses. I say that because, well, maximizing your savings on transportation necessitates buying used.

That said, it is already possible to buy electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, and Chevy Spark for < $10k. These vehicles aren’te exactly great, but as the electric vehicle market expands, so will your used options.

And, of course, electric vehicles don’t use gas. Electricity is much cheaper, especially if you can charge at home. And these vehicles never need oil changes.

So you can see why vehicles that don’t use gas, are under $10k, and are more reliable in the long run, will become the better option for those with smaller budgets.

This will eventually become the go-to option for those looking to save on transportation costs. I’m calling it.

3. Embraced Used Products

I’m not just talking about used cars here. No, sir (or madam!). Nowadays, anytime I’m buying pretty much anything, I stop and thing, “Can I get this used?”

Now, I should say that it does depend on the type of item. For example, if the thing I’m buying is a small piece of electronic equipment that’s less than $50 (like a flash drive), I usually won’t bother with used.

That’s because, even if I can get one that’s used, it won’t be much cheaper. Such is not the case for a used t-shirt. New ones might be under $50, but used ones can be had for just a few bucks.

4. Cut the Cord

“Cutting the cord” is all the rage today, but that is for good reason. That’s because this one isn’t purely about save money.

Ask yourself this question: when was the last time you watched live TV?

If the answer is “today,” well, this one may not be for you. But I know that, personally, I rarely watch live TV anymore.

And if you are more like me, why not ditch cable? There’s little reason to keep something if you aren’t really using it.

5. Switched to Google Fi

Just over two years ago, I switched to Google Fi because I knew it would ultimately be cheaper than my current plan. I did have unlimited data previously, but I was paying $70/month for just me – a bit steep.
 
After switching to Google Fi (and finishing my device payment), I’m saving a decent bit now:
 
Stop Wasting Money Google Fi

I didn’t just switch to save money, though. Google Fi works almost anywhere in the world (except maybe Antarctica). Of course, you never need a SIM card – in fact, it uses virtual SIM by default.

See my full Google Fi review to learn more.

6. Stopped Paying So Much For Coffee

Yes, I know I said you shouldn’t worry so much about how much that morning coffee is costing you. And guess what? That is still true.

See, this list is somewhat in order of precedence, which is why this item is a bit farther down. Think of it this way: if you have already tried all of the previous ideas, and still need to cut more in your budget, try this.

One easy way to stop wasting so much on coffee is by using sites like Survey Junkie. As you can probably guess, survey junkie is a site where you take surveys and earn points in exchange.

Then, you can exchange those points for some Starbucks gift cards! Cha-ching!

With Survey Junkie, you can get free Starbucks by claiming Starbucks gift cards for as little as $10! Not bad at all.

7. Embraced Generics

I have gotten to the point with generic products where I know which grocery stores carry more of them than others. Yes, for some reason, some grocery stores have more store-brand items than others.
 
So, now, I mostly go to the grocery store that has the widest selection of them. These savings are considerable, too. The difference between $3.99 and $4.99 is nothing to sneeze at. Especially when the only real difference is the packaging.

8. Embraced Dollar Stores

Oddly enough, I didn’t start frequently dollar stores like Dollar Tree until recently. Despite my self-proclaimed frugality, I guess I sort of didn’t even believe how great they are.
 
Here’s a personal example: I don’t buy expensive sunglasses. I lose or break them far too often to justify that. So my go-to has typically to buy them at Walgreens. They cost around 20 bucks there, which I figure isn’t too bad compared to some $200 Oakley sunglasses.
 
Be that as it may, Dollar Tree actually has sunglasses for $1. Crazy, but true. Last time I just bought two pairs, because why not? That’s still 1/10th of what I normally pay for one pair.
 
And pretty much everything (if not actually everything) in the store is $1. So yeah, it’s worth a look.

9. Gave Up Meat (Mostly)

I am mostly vegetarian now, and this one is another one that is in line with frugal sustainability. I had originally planned to write about sustainability…so even though this blog is about personal finance, I can never completely prevent sustainability from seeping into this one.
 
Not that I want to prevent that, of course. In a lot of ways, the two are more inter-connected than people realize. I mean, my friends Angela and Kristine now have an entire blog dedicated to it.
 
In any case, meat isn’t just an added cost. It’s also incredibly impactful on the environment.

All of these figures are mind-boggling, but the 30% ones are especially so.
 
Here’s the thing: whether you care to admit it or not, meat production is not sustainable. As the world’s human population grows, there will come a point where even just the land use of meat production will make it impossible to continue at its current levels.
 
I haven’t stopped eating meat entirely, but I have given up red meat entirely. I only eat chicken and turkey, and even that is only 2-3 times per week (I used to eat meat every day).
 
I would highly suggest this one if you want not only to save money but also help build a more sustainable future. Again, it’s not about giving meat up entirely; any reduction in consumption is good.

10. Used Trim to Find Unnecessary Expenses

I’ve been using Trim to help me cut out unnecessary expenses. The reason Trim is so nice is because it does basically all of the work for you.

Have you ever signed up for something because you just wanted to try it, and you got pulled into a subscription? And then completely forgot about it? Trim will find those for you.

It also negotiates bank fees for you. So if you are paying high APR on loans for example, they will negotiate those for you. No need to do any of the work yourself.

See my Trim review to learn more.

11. Worrying About My Investments

If you are seeing this close to when it was written, then it will especially make sense to say I’m not worry about my investments. That’s because I am writing this in the midst of the novel coronavirus and the corresponding market fallout.
 
As a result, many people are selling off. This will not always be the case, but there is a lesson to be learned here.
 
The coronavirus will not always be a major issue. It is likely to fizzle out within the next few months – perhaps a bit longer.
 
But investing is a long game (unless you are retiring soon). If you are not retiring soon, you shouldn’t be concerned with something that only affects the markets for a few months – even if it wreaks havoc.
 
Doing so is great way to lose money in the long run – and this applies now and any time you may sell based on emotion. Once your investing strategy is set, it is set. You should only change it based on your proximity to retirement.
 
And that’s exactly what I’m doing (or not doing, in this case).
 

How to Stop Wasting Money: Conclusion

These are just a few of the ways to stop wasting money. Hopefully you have learned a thing or two from these ideas.

Do you have a great way to stop wasting money that I didn’t mention? If so, let me know in the comments.

Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I'm an expert at frugal living and saving money. I’m also an EV enthusiast and have recently become mostly-vegetarian. Another thing I started doing recently? Dog walking. I’m working toward financial independence making money via my own ventures. Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out my post on starting a blog.

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