- Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
- Some items we’re used to buying every day can actually be a huge waste of money.
- Store-bought greeting cards, physical books, cable TV, and premium gasoline are just a few examples.
- Bigger purchases, such as a boat or a time-share, often aren’t worth the cost either.
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Waste not, want not.
We make so many purchases that we don’t always realize what we are buying – and how we could be saving money. If we take a step back and think about all of our additional costs, we could cut a few out of our lives.
These 24 products can often be a huge waste of money:
Matthew Michaels contributed to the original version of this article.
- REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Many lottery players purchase tickets each day with the hope of striking big, but games of chance are preventing you from having more money, not less. You are expected to lose money if you play the lottery and there is no guarantee you will even keep winnings.
- Srdjan Zivulovic/Reuters
In New York City, someone who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day burns up over $5,000 a year. Smoking can also be a huge cost to your health – medical bills can rack up from the dirty habit even tobacco companies are quitting.
- Pete Norton/Getty
As Americans became more health conscious and started drinking less soda, beverage companies needed a new plan. It worked as Americans now drink more bottled water than soda, even though it costs $1.22 per gallon for a commodity that can be accessed for next to nothing.
Brand name drugs
For most products that are exactly the same, customers would usually choose the cheaper option. This does not hold true for brand name drugs, which consistently outpace sales of their generic counterparts despite having the same ingredients and effects. Save yourself some money and buy the generic ibuprofen instead of Advil.
Movie theater concessions
Movie theaters don’t make profits from film tickets, but instead through food sales. The over-inflated popcorn and pricey candy is a rip off considering you can buy the same products at the supermarket for much cheaper and many theaters don’t care if you bring in your own snacks (as long as you clean up after yourself).
- REUTERS/Jason Redmond
Before Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts were on every street corner, people brewed their own coffee at home. This is still somewhat popular – especially with coffee pods – but coffee shops have taken a lot of the business. With expensive price tags and long waits, it’s a wonder why everyone isn’t turning to homebrew.
- Mike Segar/Reuters
A library is the best way to save money on an expensive hobby. Libraries are free and come with millions of books, DVDs, and other materials for you to borrow.
- Aila Images/Shutterstock
Timeshares sound too good to be true. They offer low prices for a vacation home that you can use whenever you want. But they can trap you with ever-increasing fees and low resale value, making timeshares an almost guaranteed loss.
- Joe Raedle/Getty Images
One sign of wealth is cruising on a personal yacht, but that may be a better indicator of wasted wealth. Boats are expensive on their own, but as Saltwater Sportsman says, prices for storage, gas, maintenance, and electronic navigation drive up the initial cost.
CDs and DVDs
CDs and DVDs are becoming obsolete, but many people still shell out cash for hard copies of albums and movies. Like books, CDs and DVDs can be rented at libraries, but most people now stream entertainment on apps like Spotify and Netflix for a monthly rate that costs less than a single disc.
- Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images
Like music and movies, television is moving from more traditional modes to online streaming. Since cable packages make you pay for more than you want, a pick-and-pay model may wind up costing you less. Streaming has the added bonus of no commercials and watching on your own schedule.
- Random Retail/flickr
Make your own – it’s more meaningful if you gift a personalized card and you’ll save the $5.
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Gift cards aren’t as popular a present as you may think. Almost one in three gift cards never get used at all, CBS reported in 2014, citing Consumer Reports. And those who do use them tend to spend 20% more than the value of the card, according to Investopedia. Cut your losses and buy something more thoughtful next time.
- Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Gym memberships can be expensive, so if you’re not a frequent visitor, you’re just wasting money. Thankfully, there are ways to be healthy and exercise outside of a gym.
- REUTERS/Carlos Barria
The newest gadget
- Justin Sullivan/Getty
Whenever a new gadget hits market, the older version takes a plunge in price. The old and new version will probably be very similar and the most recent model may have kinks to work out. Save a lot of money by going with a slightly older product that has nearly identical capabilities.
- Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Those free games you play on your smartphone have to get money from somewhere. It turns out these games are highly addictive and designed with psychological tricks so you will spend the most money to get to the next level.
- Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Online retailers can make a lot of money charging customers enormous fees for quick shipping. But while the standard option may take a bit longer, the savings is worth it.
- Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider
Buying clothing full-price can add unnecessary expenses to your monthly budget. Not only do most in-store clothing items eventually go on sale after a few weeks, but there are countless other ways to get new clothes for less. Hit up your local thrift stores, swap clothes with your friends, or check out online second-hand retailers like Poshmark or Depop to save some money.
Going out to eat
- Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images
Everyone knows that going out to eat is expensive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends about $3,000 a year dining out. That’s a huge expense. According to an article by MoneyUnder30, this number far outweighs how much it costs to prepare food at home. The average price of a meal out is $13. In contrast, the price of buying groceries and making a meal at home is around $4 per plate – a whopping $9 difference.
Alcoholic drinks in restaurants
While a whole bottle of wine at your local liquor store may cost anywhere between $10 and $15, you can expect to pay at least $8 or $9 for just a glass at a restaurant. Cocktails can cost even more, despite only containing a shot or two of alcohol per serving. Save your pennies and order a soft drink the next time you go out to eat.
- Katie Canales/Business Insider
Food delivery services are sweeping the nation. Companies like Postmates, Caviar, Seamless, GrubHub, and more allow you to enjoy your favorite restaurants from the comforts of home – for an added fee. Delivery charges can cost anywhere from $2.99 to $8, costing you more money for the same product if you simply went and picked up your food yourself.
High-end beauty products
- Bethany Biron/Business Insider
Drugstore makeup has come a long way in recent years, to the point where they rival higher-end brands. The actual differences between products you find in CVS and Sephora are almost slim to none – so don’t pay more for the luxury brands.
Off-brand tech accessories and chargers
- Andrew Greenland/Flickr
Off-brand tech accessories and chargers – meaning ones not designed by Apple, Android, Samsung, etc – are usually a waste of your money. They may seem like a cheap and easy fix when you find yourself out and about with a dead device. However, according to the experts at Money, cheap cords can actually end up breaking quickly or even damaging your device. You may end up having to purchase a new phone for the sake of a $9.99 charger.
- Read more:
- I saved over $285,000 in my 20s without ever making a budget thanks to a laughably easy strategy I use instead
- The best way to save money for the future, even if you don’t know what you’re saving for
- How much money you should save depends on 3 things
- Saving money is a good start, but where you keep those savings can matter even more