Money is a resource. It provides us with the means to secure our needs and occasionally, a bit of our wants. But if we’re not careful about where our dollars go, they can slip away faster than we expect.
This potential to ‘waste’ money without noticing is a subtle but powerful drain on our resource.
For many of us, it’s not the big, glaring expenses that drain our wallets (although they can). Sometimes, it’s the small, seemingly insignificant ones that, over time, add up and distract our hard-earned money from its maximum potential.
It’s these subtle money drains that we rarely spend time to evaluate.
So, in case you find it helpful, here are twelve subtle ways you might be wasting money:
1. Overspending on Clothing.
The average American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on clothes.
Try to resist the allure of fast fashion and constant wardrobe updates. Choose quality over quantity.
Better yet, consider a capsule wardrobe. Not only will this save you money, but it will also save you time deciding what to wear each day.
2. Size of Your Home.
Bigger isn’t always better. In fact, there are lots of benefits to owning a smaller home.
Downsizing your home can lead to substantial savings in mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and maintenance.
3. Recurring Subscriptions.
These can quickly add up. Do you have magazine subscriptions you never read? Streaming services you rarely use? Apps that automatically renew?
Take a moment to review these and cancel the ones that no longer serve you. It takes only a few clicks on your phone to check for recurring subscriptions that you don’t use.
4. Not Monitoring Utility Usage.
When was the last time you evaluated your home energy use? Maybe every time you get your bill. But let me rephrase the question: When was the last time you tried out less energy use (changing the thermostat or looking at electricity use in your home).
Are you mindful of your energy usage? Do you turn off lights when you leave the room? Could you be more efficient with your heating and cooling? Small changes can lead to big savings over time.
5. Frequent Eating Out.
Eating out is convenient, but it’s often an area where we waste more money than we realize.
Try meal planning, cooking at home, and packing lunches. You’ll be surprised at the savings. The cost saving of eating at home is one of the best financial lessons I ever learned from my parents.
6. Not Using a Library.
Books, magazines, movies, music—your local library has it all.
7. Paying for Unused Memberships.
Gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, monthly boxes, even monthly car wash subscriptions.
If you aren’t fully utilizing these services, or worse yet, if you’ve forgotten you’re still paying for them, it’s time to reevaluate. By cutting back or canceling unused memberships and subscriptions, you could save a significant amount annually.
8. Buying Brand Names.
There are many products where the store brand is just as good (if not better) than the national brand.
Clothes are a great example. Too often, people pay a premium just for the privilege of become a walking billboard.
But this goes for everything from groceries to medication.
9. Not Utilizing Credit Card Rewards.
If you’re going to use a credit card, make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
But remember to pay off the balance each month to avoid costly interest fees.
10. Ignoring Your Health.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as they say. And it costs a whole lot less.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and routine check-ups can prevent costly medical bills in the future.
11. Wasting Food.
To avoid wasting food, and thus money, consider planning your meals, regularly checking your refrigerator and pantry to use items before they expire, or even simplify your meal routine. Being more conscious about our food consumption, we can find another avenue for substantial savings.
12. Not Investing in High-Quality Items.
Sometimes, the cheapest option isn’t the most cost-effective. Investing in high-quality items can save money in the long run as they tend to last longer, reducing the need for replacements.
In fact, that’s one of the most surprising benefits of minimalism—the less you own, the higher quality items you can own.
These small adjustments can make a huge difference in your financial health over time.
And by considering where your money goes, you can make more intentional decisions that align with your values, and find yourself with more financial freedom than you thought possible.