Biggest Money Wasters
10 Biggest Money Wasters
With budgets still tight, CNN Money has listed 10 of the biggest things Americans are wasting money on:
ATM fees: Using the closest ATM, rather than the one at your own bank will typically cost you about $5. Your bank charges a fee for going out of network, and the ATM you use also charges a fee. Your bank’s ATM probably won’t cost you a cent.
Lottery tickets: Consumers bought more than $70 billion worth of lottery tickets last year, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. About $38 billion was awarded in prizes.
Gourmet coffee: Americans spend an average of $8.43 each time they stop at a coffee shop, according to Mint.com. With caffeine fiends filling up an average of 46 times last year, this adds up to a total annual bill of $385.97. For daily drinkers, the bill can be in the thousands.
Cigarettes: Americans spend $80 billion on cigarettes per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you simply can’t ditch the habit, there are cheaper alternatives, like buying in bulk.
Infomercial impulse buys: The infomercial industry brings in about $400 billion a year, according to the Electronic Retailing Association. And many impulse purchases go unused. Do you really need that Shake Weight, the Magic Bullet Blender, the Topsy Turvy tomato planter or the Perfect Push-Up?
Brand-name groceries: Prices of generic items are typically 5% to 10% lower than brand-name options. Even if there are only generic options available for some of the items you buy, you could save at least $50 to $75 a month if you’re spending $500 to $600 a month on groceries for your family. If you don’t want to let go of your brand name items, shop at discounters like Wal-Mart or shop in bulk.
Eating out: Consumers spent an average of $28.47 on each restaurant meal in 2010 and averaged 82 restaurant visits during the year – adding up to $2,341, according to Mint.com. Bars and alcohol are another money sucker. On average, people spent $42.27 each time they went bar-hopping.
Unused gym memberships: Gym no-shows are throwing away hundreds of dollars a year or even a month, for some upscale gyms. It’s cheaper to just buy an exercise bike for home.
Daily Internet deals: Lifesta, a site that will buy back your unused deals, estimates that 20% of all daily deals go unused. That’s a whopping $532 million wasted, based on the Local Offer Network’s estimate that the daily deal industry will grow 138% to $2.66 billion in 2011. More than 63,000 local group deals were published online last year, and almost 40,000 were published in the first quarter of 2011 alone, Local Offer Network found.
Bundled cable or phone services: Consumers are often lured into bundled cable, Internet or phone packages because of the reduced rates offered during the first year or a limited period of time. But paying for 500 channels that you’re not watching, or unlimited text messages or airtime that you’re not using, is just a waste of money.