6 Ways You’re Wasting Money Without Even Realizing It

money and marriage

Photo: iStock

If it seems like all your hard-earned money is being spent faster than you can log into your bank account, you’re not alone. It’s part of this thing called “adulting” — your rent, car insurance, phone, and credit card bills aren’t going to pay themselves! Plus, a girl’s gotta eat. Still, you may be wondering where all of the rest of your money is going. As it turns out, it’s most often the little, seemingly unnoticeable purchases that are costing you the most. And it doesn’t help that spending has never been easier, with retailers like Amazon ready to sell you anything at the click of a mouse.

“Apple Pay, credit cards that work with a tap, automatic monthly renewal, and smart marketing professionals all contribute to the ‘ease’ of wasting money,” says Byron Ellis, certified financial planner with United Capital Financial Advisers. If you are curious what exactly you’re wasting your money on, we tapped financial advisers who are more than happy to give you the 411. Keep scrolling for their simple ways to save money.

You don’t budget

If you really want to save, budgeting is the way to go. “Creating a budget and tracking it is perhaps the most important part of any savings plan,” says Ellis. He recommends setting aside some time to lay out all your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses so you can get a solid understanding of your savings potential. “Make budgeting a breeze by using easy-to-use software that you can find on websites like Mint.com and Quicken.com,” he adds. “This will provide you with helpful charts and graphs that will allow you to see where you can cut back.”

Retail is your therapy

If you love to shop when the weather’s crappy or you’re having a particularly tough day, you might be depending on purchases to bring you back to speed. While not always a bad thing, this can cause you to go through money like it’s candy. “Whenever you rush to the department store or take out your wallet to online shop, wait at least 24 hours before buying whatever items you have your eye on,” suggests Charlene Quaresma, financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual. “If you wait out your impulse, you will be less likely to actually go through with the purchase.” Instead, she recommends focusing on the things in your life that make you happy and ways to keep your future-self happy as well.

You’re addicted to coffee

If you’re someone who hits up your local Starbucks every morning and drop as little as $3.65 a day (which is the cost of an average grande latte), you’re spending $1,332.25 a year on your caffeine habit. That’s a serious chunk of change! Think of the all-inclusive Caribbean vacation you could be taking with those savings and instead opt for coffee brewed at home.

You prefer to see movies in theaters

Going to the movies to see a long-awaited flick is a nice treat. You work hard, you deserve it. But with the current cost of movie tickets rising from $8.84 to $9.16 in the last year, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), you might want to consider at-home theater seats (aka your couch). “Instead of giving your hard-earned money to Hollywood executives, put it in your bank account and opt for budget-friendly streaming or rentals,” says Ellis. “You can still go to the movies on occasion, just pick and choose the ones you think are worth the money.”

You travel like an influencer

While you can try to travel on a budget, it’s admittedly hard to save when you’re jetting off to a new city, state or country every other week. “Airfare, transportation, accommodations, and attractions can really put a dent in your savings account, but you can greatly reduce these costs by vacationing in your own city or one close by,” says Ellis. “Why not rediscover why you love where you live by visiting local attractions or, better yet, turn your own house into a retreat so you can relax and unwind.”

You ignore the hidden

If you’re the kind to skip over the fine print of just about anything, you're probably getting nickeled and dimed at every turn. Ellis recommends taking a closer look at your bank fees, interest rates, credit card costs, and any other financial fee that is costing you money. “Consider which fees can be cut out of the budget entirely and which ones can be reduced,” he says. “For example, instead of withdrawing money from ATMs for a fee, try going into the bank for a free withdrawal, or if possible, only visit ATMs that do not charge you.”