Not Waste Money

Wasting money is incredibly easy – unfortunately! Yet, with a little thought into your spending and saving practices, you can very easily curtail over-spending and start making your money go further rather than frittering it away. When you're in the frame of mind to stop wasting your money, give these steps a try.


  1. Sit down for an afternoon and do a little financial research. Although this isn't on the list of most people's top priorities, it should be because this is where you can stop wasting a lot of money. The things to examine include your banking arrangements, your retirement fund, and your insurance rates:
    • Find out about your retirement funds. Are you even set up for such a fund? It can have several advantages over a regular savings or investment account. And if you have one, have you got the best deal possible? Look for retirement funds that your employer matches. Even if you're not employed, you may still be able to take advantage of such accounts; ask your financial adviser or do some research.
    • Review your other investments beyond your retirement funds, if you have them. Are they a sensible mix of kinds of investments for you? Are the fees reasonable?
    • Remove excess cash sitting in low interest savings accounts and transfer it to high interest accounts (or, especially have more than a few months' needs saved up, consider transferring some to higher-risk but potentially higher-yielding investments). While it's important to check the fine print because many higher interest accounts require that you keep your funds at a certain level (see it as enforced saving), it is much better to be getting a higher rate of return with a more disciplined approach, than to have your money getting very little interest and being chomped away at by fees. Visit your bank's site online to find out its saving rates, and while you're at it, shop around in case another bank is offering a much better deal. Don't be afraid to show this better deal to your bank manager before closing everything and switching!
    • Check your health, car, Compare Homeowners Insurance, and other insurance rates. It's highly possible that you're not getting the best deal because a lot of people tend to get comfortable with the deal they've had for ages without continuing to update the offers available and shopping around. Spend a small amount of time doing the research to get big savings back.
    • Check what you're paying for your credit card interest. Is it time to switch to a lower-interest rate provider?
    • If you're carrying a balance from month to month at interest, and thereby also likely foregoing the interest-free grace period for new purchases, deal with that probably-much-larger expense before you worry about how to make your own savings earn a little bit more.
  2. Keep track of expenses. Paying for most things with cash can help you keep track of your spending. Instead of maxing out your credit card, seek to pay for things with cash. You're wasting money when you spend time Use Coupons only to pay interest when you pay for your purchases with a credit card.
    • Keep in mind that some purchases are best made with a credit card for the purposes of obtaining guarantees or warranties and for having a sound record of traceability for your purchase. Even then, however, you can still ensure that you have cash on hand to deposit (or simply a bank balance) in the amount you charge so that you can timely pay the bill for the outstanding balance in the time given before interest is added.
  3. Cancel or suspend memberships or subscriptions that you're no longer using, or that you're using ineffectively. What have you signed up for that, in all reality, you can live without? There is little point having a membership to something like the gym or a wine club if you're not using it or enjoying the benefits of it. Go through memberships that you pay for, including websites, information provision, newspapers, the gym, clubs, etc., and work out whether you are getting the most from them or if they've just become a payment habit that you forget to use. Equally, if you're going away for a while, or working away from home, is it possible to suspend some of your memberships and pick them up again later when you're more likely to be free to use them?
    • Be especially careful with the sign-ups to subscriptions that cost "just X amount per month"! After subscribing to a few of these, they soon start to add up. And frankly, they're quite easy to lose track of, but be reassured that your credit card will keep track of them for you, whether or not you're using them. Be honest when assessing whether or not these subscriptions have actually enhanced your lifestyle or professional needs, especially the online ones.
    • Be strong in the face of renewed attempts to get you back. Charities, magazines, and wine clubs don't like to forget you once you're on their mailing list. Just remind yourself of where it got you last time.
      • You can do a lot of good without a lot of trouble or pressure to give beyond your means by donating periodically to one charity that is highly rated by independent organizations and respects requests to keep you off a mailing list for solicitations and send you only receipts. It might take a few weeks for them to stop arriving because bulk mailings are economically prepared in advance. (Not everyone will choose the same charity; be satisfied that, statistically, they'll tend to all get help with donors taking this approach rather than being burned out and driven away by high pressure solicitations.)
    • If you don't use your gym membership, work out free ways to exercise, such as riding your bike to and from work, walking everywhere, or taking weekend hikes with the kids. (These can reduce car expenses, too!)
    • Sometimes what might be needed is to slim down the membership rather than completely remove it from your life. For example, if you purchased a membership to a whole raft of features or a whole network of places, when all you need is to use the local place with one feature, look into whether there is a way to "downsize" your membership and paying less as a result.
    • Read How to manage your magazine subscriptions for more details.
  4. Put an end to making impulse purchases. They are fun to begin with but soon become a bad habit if you find yourself buying things just because they're available or they're on sale. And if you've never done the activity or sport before, or you've never worn that style before, or you've never tried that before, be doubly cautious before throwing away your money on an impulse buy – go home and do some research and thinking first!
    • Ask yourself if you really need the item and if you can afford it. Even if you can afford it, if you don’t really need it, use your willpower and avoid the unnecessary expense and put the savings into an investment instead. Train that little voice in your mind to tell you "You don't really need that! Put it back!"
    • Remind yourself that the new outfit won't make you look like either one of them, and that it definitely won't come with their lifestyle. Go through your "old" clothing regularly and wear it if it fits. You probably wouldn't have bought it if it didn't look nice, although there might not now be as many people wearing the same thing.
    • Remember that just because it's on special, it doesn't mean it will fill a niche in your life that isn't yet there.
  5. Buy in bulk only if you consume in bulk, can consume over time before spoilage, or can share the purchase. It is an incredible waste to purchase items that you won't use and will only end up throwing away, and this is tantamount to throwing away money. If you have a large family or household and you know the bulk items will be eaten, used, or needed within the viability or lifespan of the goods, then bulk purchases can be a great deal. Bulk purchases can also be a great way to save money if you team up with one or more other households and divide the items after the purchase. If not, stick with purchasing items in smaller amounts, as needed. This is especially important with food, Find Natural Cosmetics, and other items that have use-by dates. And keep in mind that it's very easy to get sick of even something that you think you could never get enough of.
    • Be wary of anything that's "packaged" or "bundled". Be very careful when signing a phone contract, a car hire contract, or anything similar because the fine print might conceal fees, taxes, and late rates that you weren't aware of from the smiling advertising blurb. This can be a sneaky but sadly legitimate way to leak money – your money.
    • Don't get sucked in by the free set of six steak knives. If the "you get all of this free" deals really is such a great deal, why doesn't the price reflect this instead of adding all these unnecessary extras?
  6. Be savvy when grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is an emotional experience for many people, especially if you feel you're denying yourself and your family of food and items when there isn't enough money. However, grocery shopping is one of the areas in life where you can definitely make savings and save your money, while still enjoying the experience and living well. Here are some ways to help you:
    • Always take a list along when shopping. Shopping without a list can equate to throwing away money because you'll be sorely tempted to put in a whole range of things you actually do not need, ever. Keep a list on the fridge and add to it as you run out of things and simply pull that list off before going shopping. Plan a menu for the week or so in advance and use that as your shopping guide. Stick to the list and leave space for only one or two indulgences that are not on the list, and make sure those indulgences are on special!
    • Buy in smaller lots but more widely. Buying a variety of fresh food regularly has a lot of benefits – it tastes better, gets eaten up quickly, and can give you opportunities to try all sorts of different foods that are in season or on special at your favorite stores.
    • Buy generic brand items of groceries, instead of name brands. Unless you really can taste the difference or you are absolutely positive that there is a quality drop in the generic version, prefer the generic products, or the products that are heavily discounted and equal in price to generic products. Most generic items are manufactured in the same places as the brand name products, only they lack the marketing oomph behind them. Equally, prefer generic prescriptions over brand name ones; your doctor can advise you.
    • Avoid shopping for food when hungry. This will just make you put more in the cart than you need.
    • Stick to your shopping budget and keep a tally of the amounts in your head as you walk around (rounding every item up to the next dollar is the easiest - although it ends up being more in your head, that's a good thing because you end up saving).
    • If you're tempted to buy too-expensive items, rather than being tempted to buy too much, try a discount supermarket or warehouse store. They have identical or similar items, but less flashy displays, and buying in bulk means you won't have to go as often (take care with perishables though -- try longer-lasting fruits like apples and oranges, and freeze excess meat).
  7. Make use of free or minimal cost community resources. There are many resources available within your community that can save you money. After all, to a small extent you are contributing to them, so you may as well make use of them. Some good places to save money include:
    • Visit your library. Visit your local library to rent music, books, and movies for free or for a minimal fee. Look at online eBook loan options from your library, or completely free digital books from Project Gutenberg[1] as well; that way you don't even need to leave the house for a good read!
    • Use local sporting facilities such as the swimming pool so that you don't need to maintain one of your own. Excuses like "there are too many people", or "the water is dirty" can be overcome by changing the hours you attend (go earlier or later), telling pool maintenance staff that there is a cleanliness issue rather than moaning about it, and if you're concerned about the cost, do a comparison with home pool ownership and you'll soon realize it's a very cheap option.
    • Find out about local Lead Nature Walks in your town or city. These can give you insights into the past history of your local area that you didn't know about. Other types of walking groups can include groups walking for fitness, or groups that pool resources together and go out for a local hike.
    • Save Money on Computer Software by Using Free Software, and save on how-to books with free resources like WikiHow.
  8. Save energy. Turn down the heat when leaving the house, keep the thermostat at a comfortable but not over-heated level, turn off lights that aren't in use, and drive your car gently rather than revving the fuel and life out of it.
  9. Reward yourself for being disciplined and for having good self-respect. Not wasting money is about caring about yourself and those around you. While it can sometimes seem easier to lack self-restraint and spend like crazy, at the end of the day, it's a good thing to save money and to enjoy what you do have. Rest easier knowing that your savings are growing instead of the hole in your wallet.
    • Rewards should be fun, but not involve spending large amounts of money, in line with not wasting money.


  • Consider Turn a Hobby Into a Successful Business As a Teen - woodworking, painting, crafting - to make your hobbies support themselves. That can give a much easier budget for the things you do enjoy doing and supplies you might want in bulk because you'll actually use them up. It also keeps the results of your successful hobby activities from filling up your house.
  • Avoid buying brand new cars. They lose value immediately and a well checked used car of even just a few years age can be a much better deal. (For a great deal, buy a car that is several years old but has a reputation for durability, safety, economical repair, and is well inspected -- see what kinds your local taxi drivers use.) Or look at buying a demonstrator which will have money knocked off it already. And consider whether it's possible to live without any car at all and simply hiring a car when you need one. If you live somewhere with excellent public transportation or bike tracks, this can be a realistic option. Look for schools, activity centers, good transport connections, and local stores close to your home when buying a new house and you'll be able to reduce at least the need for a second car.
  • Always keep the quality/quantity balance in mind. For example, pay more to get the highest quality you can for something that should last for years, like a good winter coat or boots instead of spending huge amounts of money buying new ones every second year.
  • Leave your credit card at home and only carry around the amount you want to spend.
  • While it may feel easier to not return mail-order disasters, have the strength and resolve to do so. The cost of return postage is usually worth the refund you'll get on returning the item. Here is how to do it: Simply type up the return address, print it off, and stick it on. Stick on your own address label. Drive to the post office and ask for it to be posted. Pay for postage (if relevant). Simple. And soon, the refund will be in your bank account again, while the unwanted item can find a new home.
  • Give yourself an unplanned "mad money" budget when working out your budget. That allows for noticing unusually good sales on something you really do want and enjoy, and some personal choice at the time of shopping. For groceries you may set it at 10% of your grocery budget for "something good or cheap or both that isn't on the list." It's much easier to stick to a set amount of impulse money than to deny all impulse purchases.
  • Keep your hobby costs under control. For instance, take up hobbies and activities that involve reuse and recycling of your own waste material. Your raw materials are usually free and you'd have to do something with them anyway.
  • Shop second hand stores, thrift shops, flea markets and other places where you can get a lot for very little money.

Things You'll Need

  • Lists
  • Budget
  • Internet access for research
  • Bike for alternative transport option, or public transportation
  • Coupons for groceries
  • Information about local community resources (start with the library and your local municipality offices)
  • High interest savings account

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Sources and Citations