7 Ways People Throw Away Money Every Day

Throwing cash down the toilet

Sometimes, the best way to save money is to stop throwing it away.

Unnecessary expenses can eat into your bank account without bringing any real return. Taken one at a time, these day-to-day spending mistakes may seem small, but they can add up to thousands of dollars wasted every year.

Learn how to avoid these ways of wasting money every day.

1. Pay the ATM fee

Woman at ATM
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It is common to pay a few dollars for the privilege of withdrawing money from an ATM. This may be convenient, but it isn’t necessary. There are several ways to avoid this fee.

A simple solution is to carry more cash with you so you don’t have to worry about finding an ATM. You can also ask for cash back when you make debit card purchases at supermarkets or drug stores. Just make sure that there are no fees attached.

It’s also a good idea to open a checking account at a bank that has many branches and ATM locations so you can make free withdrawals more easily. Or, choose the online bank that you will use every ATM and will waive or reimburse you for any ATM fees you incur.

2. Do not unplug electronics that are not in use

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The typical household contains many gadgets that have the potential to draw electricity — and increase your utility bills — when not in use. Many consume power even when they are turned off, reports Bloomberg.

Devices that should be unplugged when not in use include:

  • Coffee machine
  • tv
  • DVD player
  • Speaker
  • Laptops

3. Not using a gym membership

Senior Women's Training
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At the start of the new year, many people promise to lose weight and improve their fitness, only to lose their resolve within a few weeks. If you’re not going to be a regular gym user, the membership fee is likely not worth it.

There are cheaper ways to stay fit. You’ll probably use exercise machines or weights more often in front of the TV at home than you do at the gym. It also costs nothing to keep a pair of athletic shoes under your desk at work so you can take a walk during your lunch break.

You can even get paid to get fit. A company called HealthyWage makes it possible for people who want to gamble, as we described in “How to Make Money Losing Weight.”

4. Paying for services you don’t use

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Businesses may sometimes offer you a discount for paying an up-front membership fee. This may sound like a great way to save a few dollars, but the monthly or annual fees can continue long after you stop using the service.

For example, if you experience computer problems, you may decide to pay a monthly fee for immediate access to technical support. Once the problem is resolved, you may not need to ask for help again. However, the monthly fee will continue to drain your bank account unless you cancel your membership.

To find recurring expenses that you may have forgotten about, use a company like BillCutterz. Or, check your financial records yourself. We detail both options in “How to Cut Every Monthly Bill You Own.”

5. Subscribe to magazines

Young woman reading a magazine at the table.
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It’s tempting to subscribe to your favorite magazine when it’s on sale. But what if you don’t have time to read every issue? Seeing unread magazines piling up is like watching money fly out the window.

Before purchasing a subscription — whether for print or online publication — ask:

  • Are you going to actually read magazines?
  • Is a magazine something you would buy at a newsstand?
  • Are you reluctant to read magazines for free in public libraries?
  • Do you have an Amazon Prime membership? (It comes with Prime Reading, a feature that gives you access to over 1,000 digital books, magazines and comics to read at no extra cost.)

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you probably shouldn’t subscribe.

6. Wasting food

Woman scraping food from plate to trash.
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Up to 40% of food in the US is never eaten, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Much of this wasted food ends up in landfills, effectively meaning you are literally wasting hundreds of dollars a year.

However, there are many ways to stop this waste, from reconsidering bulk purchases to making groceries last longer. For more ideas, see “13 Easy Ways to Cut Food Waste and Save Money.”

7. Stop at the convenience store

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Convenience stores come in handy when you’re in a hurry, but easy access comes at a price.

You’ll usually spend less by visiting the grocery store. It may require planning ahead.

Start by thinking about that trip to the department store. If you frequently stop there for quick drinks, keep a bottle of water or soda on the grocery store list so you always remember to pick one up. That way, you’ll have your favorite drink at home and can make it a habit to take it with you on the go.

Better yet, buy some reusable water bottles and fill them with tap water or soda from a 2 liter bottle. You will save more money.

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