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Wallet Watchers

6 ways you’re throwing your money away and don’t even realize it

(Flickr Photo/@athrasher)

As certified public accountants, we help people answer all kinds of money-related questions, from how to best manage their finances to whether work clothes are tax-deductible. One of the main things people ask us is how they can save more money. Our best answer to this question is usually, “Stop wasting it!”

Most people throw away money every day without even realizing it.

Here are some of the most common ways people waste thousands of dollars each year:

1. Paying for cable

Many Americans have monthly cable bills that cost upwards of $250. But do you really need to pay this much to get your TV fix? Probably not. With all of the streaming, on-demand TV services, you can entertain your family for a whole lot less than the cost of a traditional cable bill. You can watch movies and original programming on Netflix, network TV shows on Hulu, and premium cable shows on HBO Now — all for well under $50 a month. Also, purchasing a simple TV antenna allows you to receive a handful of channels at no monthly cost.

2. Utility waste

There are many ways in which you probably waste expensive utilities like electricity and water. Here are some of the biggest energy and water wasters:

  • Leaving electronics plugged in
  • Poor home insulation (raises the cost to heat and cool your home)
  • Watering your lawn (consider replacing grass with landscaping you rarely or never have to water)
  • Taking long showers
  • Inefficient heating and cooling systems
  • Outdated appliances — older washer/dryers, water heaters, refrigerator, etc.

Start figuring out where you’re wasting energy in your house by using Duke Energy’s Energy Vampire Tool.

3. Certain types of insurance

Some insurance is largely unnecessary. Such is the case with the “extended warranties” you might purchase when buying big-ticket electronic items or appliances. About a third of consumers buy this expensive insurance, but most don’t end up using it!

Another type of money-wasting insurance is low-deductible car insurance. If you raise your car insurance deductible from $500 to $1000, you will typically save over $100 per year on car insurance, according to InsWeb.

4. Maintaining your unused gym membership

Unless you go to the gym on a regular basis, you should probably cancel your gym membership. And if you pay for a gym membership, the odds are good that you fall into this category of people who should cancel it — Two-thirds of people with gym memberships never use them.

Even if you do use your gym sometimes, you might consider buying some gym equipment to work out with at home instead, as that is not a recurring charge.

5. Not comparison shopping

A lot of people prefer to shop at their favorite store because they simply enjoy shopping there, or think that store always has the best deals. However, for large items or things you buy in bulk, you should always comparison shop to see which retailer can offer you the best deal. For electronics, you can usually find the best deals online rather than in-store. Many major stores will price match a competitor’s price as well; usually including online competitors.

6. Not paying off your credit cards

Credit card interest is probably the no. 1 way people waste money. It’s easy to just put things on your credit card and pay the minimum every month, without thinking about how your credit card debt is ballooning each month that you don’t pay off your balance. An average credit card interest rate of 14.95 percent means that if you carry a balance of $2,000, you’ll pay about $300 each year in interest alone.

We hope this article helped open your eyes to some areas where you are probably throwing away money. Please share it to help your friends and family stop wasting their money, too!

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