Top 10 Things Americans Waste Their Money On

By | March 26, 2019

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(Last Updated On: July 20, 2019)

What do Americans waste their money on? Are you guilty of these top 10 money wasters too? Even if you are, there’s still hope. I’ve clever strategies for you to counter each of these top money wasters.

According to a recent survey by Hloom, reported in their article The United States of Financial Waste, more than 2000 American respondents admitted to where they’ve been wasteful with their money.

Burning money

Ready?

#1 Eating out

68.89% of those surveyed wasted their money on dining out. Both men and women.

In fact, Time reported spending at restaurants rose to $61.6 billion.  

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Saving Tips:

If you’re always at a loss as to what you should cook, sign up for the $5 Meal Plan. Click here to learn more about it.

You get sent healthy, cost-effective meal plans that cost only $2 per person. You save tons of time on meal planning.

Sign up for a free trial here and cancel anytime with no questions asked.

While not ideal, you can consider buying commercially packaged frozen meals from supermarkets, if you are too busy to cook. Frozen meals are still way cheaper than restaurant meals. You can opt for healthier versions but they’ll still be cheaper than eating out.

Eating out for lunch may cost about $10. But realize that eating out on weekdays adds up to about $2,610 a year.

However, if you pack your own lunch, at a cost of about $4, you can save more than $1,500 in just one year.

#2 Alcohol

25.42% admitted to wasting their money on alcohol and drinks. More men than women have a soft spot for alcohol.

Ask yourself, “Is this really a need?” Two beers per day with a tip included, can add up to $3,650 per year.

Saving tips:

It’s best to give up or cut back on alcohol. But if you really need to, buy from the shops and limit your drinks to once every few days. Aim to keep reducing your drinking till you can stop.

#3 Credit Card Interest

19.34% surveyed wasted their money on absolutely NOTHING but credit card interest. This is the worst form of wasting your money because you’re not even getting a service or any kind of product.

It really doesn’t make sense to fatten the wallets of credit card companies.  

More women than men are guilty of not paying off their credit cards in full.

Ladies, it’s time to roll up your sleeves. We can’t have men beating us like this. We are smart and capable of minimizing our credit card interest.

Saving tips:

Look at your credit card statements for the last 4 months. Yes it’s painful, but you need to do it.

Can you spot your spending patterns? Where can you cut your spending on ASAP?

Spending less means it’s easier to reduce credit card debt and the interest charged.

What about coffee?

If an average cup of coffee costs $1.38 , cutting down on workday coffee alone will save you more than $360 on coffee annually. Get your free coffee from your workplace. Most of them provide complimentary beverages.

#4 Clothes

13.85% of respondents confessed that they wasted money on clothes.  Women spent more on clothes than men.

Saving Tips:

Set up a capsule wardrobe.

I tried this out and it’s truly liberating.  Setting aside mainly 3 tops and 2 pairs of pants with neutral colors for work, this strategy alone saves me tons of time.

Instead of buying more clothes, take a hard look at those that have been sitting in your closet for a year unworn, and sell them. Or you can do a good deed by donating them to charity.

Mix and match your clothes with pieces of attractive jewelry to vary your style. Less is more.

#5 Electricity

11.92% of the Americans surveyed wasted money on electricity. But my family have been using 40 ways to save up to 50% of our electric bill.

Saving Tips:

I have so many tips that they needed to be published in 3 parts.

In Part 1, I shared how we can use creative ways to save power during winter and keep warm.

In Part 2, you can use these evergreen tips to save power the whole year round.

Part 3 is packed with creative frugal tips to save power in the kitchen, laundry, bathroom and during summer.

#6 Cigarettes

11.57% of Americans surveyed said cigarettes was a source of wasted spending.

A pack of cigarettes costs around $4.54. Smoking a pack a day sets a smoker back by $1,660 a year.

Not just that. The harmful effects of smoking to both smokers and those around them are very well known.

Saving Tips:

Save your life and your wallet by NOT smoking. Join a smoking cessation clinic as help is almost always needed to reduce and eventually quit smoking.

This article has very useful tips to stop smoking.  

#7 Heating or air conditioning

10.58% said they wasted money on air conditioning.

Saving tips :

Read my 42 tips to save power in winter, around your house and the whole year through.

In Part 1, I shared how we can use creative ways to save power during winter and keep warm.

In Part 2, you can use these evergreen tips to save power the whole year round.

Part 3 is packed with creative frugal tips save power in the kitchen, laundry, bathroom and during summer time.

#8 Unreturned items

9.25% wasted money on unreturned items.

Saving tips:

Don’t put off returning your expired or damaged items to the seller. Remember to exercise your consumer rights. In fact, ask for a discount before paying, if you notice any minor defects in an item.

#9 Convenience packaging

7.07% of respondents admitted to wasting their money on packaged products. When products are packaged for your convenience, you pay more for the convenience.

Saving tip:

Buy in bulk.

You save by doing the packaging yourself. For example, our family buys organic breakfast oats in bulk and we package them into recycled glass jars to take to work.

#10 Lottery or gambling

6.82% wasted money on gambling. Americans spent $73.5 billion on traditional lottery tickets in 2016, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

Do you need to buy lottery tickets? What are your chances of winning?

Pretty slim. About one in 14 million!

Saving tips:

If you must buy, reduce the number of purchases. For example, buy your ticket once a month instead of once a week.

The money you saved from not buying the other 3 tickets can be put into a high yield savings account.

There’re more items below which were not listed in this report. But have a think about them.

Do you buy these frequently?

  • Bottled water

A 20-ounce bottle of Aquafina bottled water costs about $1.79. That’s more than $650 a year if you go through a bottle a day!

  • Manicure

The average cost of a manicure is $20.  A weekly manicure costs you about $1,040 a year.

  •  Snacks

Snacks and drinks from vending machines can whittle down your money. An average snack costs $1.

If you buy an item every afternoon at work, you’re spending $260 per year.

  • Gym Membership

On average, gym memberships cost about $58 per month, $696 per year. (excluding New York City)

According to NPR’s Planet Money, gyms like Planet Fitness attract 20 times more members than they can handle. Most of them can only accommodate 300 people each, but their members can go up to 6,500.

Do you know why?

That’s because they know most of their members don’t show up!

How to save even more money?

Learn from our family’s experience.

Read how our family stopped buying these 22 things to save more than $2600 a year.

See if you can cut them out too. #22 was challenging, but we did it 🙂

Wrap Up

Now that you know what our fellow Americans are wasting their money on, it’s time for you to take action. Know your needs from your wants and you’ll be among the smart Americans who spend their money wisely.

To find out more about this topic, click on the links below.

10 Really Dumb Ways Americans Waste Money

The 20 Biggest Ways Americans Waste Money

The Top 10 ways Americans Waste Money

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