The top 5 ways you can stop wasting money

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, March 4, 2012

No one would be crazy enough to throw money out the window, but you might be making financial decisions that are the equivalent to that. In these cash-strapped times, it’s important to look for ways to improve your bottom line.

Consider these tips to keep more money in your pocket:

1. Cut back on partying – No one’s saying that you need to stay home and become a hermit, but the cost of going out for drinks can really cut into your finances. According to, the average transaction at a bar is $42.27. If you’re going out multiple times each week, that adds up to a lot of cash. You can cut costs simply by opting for less-expensive outings or just spending more nights in. Even if you stay in one more night a week, you will save approximately $2,198 annually.

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2. Shop strategically – When you’re concerned about making smarter financial choices, impulse purchases are a bad choice. Simple steps like following a list at the grocery store or evaluating what’s in your wardrobe before shopping for clothes will help you cut back on unnecessary purchases. If you’re considering a bigger ticket item, price comparison is a must. It’s most convenient online, where discount codes are usually in abundance and free shipping is often available.

3. Avoid paying fees – These sneak up on you from all sides, and they can end up depleting your finances. Paying overdraft fees, late fees or finance charges on credit and debit cards are easily avoidable, but common mistakes. A study from the Center for Responsible Lending showed that consumers pay as much as $17.5 billion annually in overdraft fees alone. How to steer clear of them? Make sure you pay on time and have money in the bank to avoid overdraft fees. Even options like payday loans may be more affordable than these types of charges.

4. Learn to be an at-home gourmet – Going out to grab dinner can pad your stomach and thin out your wallet. Depending on the month, the average American spends between $188 and $281 a month on restaurant dining, according to, which is about $2,814 every year. The cost of restaurant meals quickly eats up your spending money – you’ll save money and eat healthier by dining at home.

5. Make a budget and stick to it – Not paying attention to where your money’s going is the best way to lose track of it. Use a credit or debit card instead of cash so you can monitor your expenses every few days online. By making yourself closely monitor where each dollar goes, you’ll be able to better see where there’s waste. If it’s too much trouble, there are online budgeting programs that can do this for you. Keep in mind that even little things add up – for instance, if you buy two fewer music downloads a week, over 30 years, you’ll have saved more than $9,000, according to the University of Texas.

When you take a good, hard look at your personal budget, you might discover even more ways you’re throwing away money. Skip the excuses and start cutting out waste – you’ll thank yourself in the long run.