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5 Things You're Doing Today That's Like Throwing Money In The Trash

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Dec. 9 2022, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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America is a consumer society, built on capitalism and spending. For the average American, that lifestyle has gotten pretty darn expensive, with reports showing that Americans often spend nearly $1500 a month on nonessential items.

If you’re feeling the stress of too little money and way too much debt, you’re likely among the millions of others losing money on overpaying and purchasing of non-essentials. Here are five ways to save cash almost instantly this month.

Purchasing Only New Clothing

There are certain clothing items that you definitely want to purchase brand new (intimates, we’re looking at you!), but most of our clothing options could easily be purchased from second-hand without issue.

Cut the clothing box subscriptions, stop scanning the websites like Zulily and LuLaRoe and head to the local thrift stores, vintage shops, and consignment shops instead. You’ll find practically anything you could need or want from a formal gown to costumes for your Cosplay this convention season – all for around a third or less the cost of new items.

Food and Household Goods Waste

How many times have you purchased salad ingredients with the best of intentions and then discovered the cucumber had gone soft? A big waste of cash for many households is food and household goods waste. According to sustainable service provider RTS, the United States is responsible for nearly 40 million tons of food waste every year, out of the 1.4 billion tons overall. On average, each American wastes about 32% of food each month.

To avoid food waste, there are several things you can do.

  • Meal plan for every meal before shopping for groceries.
  • Purchase only items that match your meal plan.
  • Understand that “sell by” and “use by” dates are not equal, nor are they precise. Check the foods you purchase for signs of spoiling instead of throwing the items out.
  • Cut out bad spots in fruit and veggies instead of chucking the whole item.
  • Plan for, save, and eat your leftovers.
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Memberships and Subscriptions You Don’t Use

We all know that adage about the unused gym membership. But there are plenty of other memberships and subscriptions that go unused and cause loads of waste in our budgets. According to a study from Chase, more than $50 of recurring payments in 70% of consumer accounts are going to waste each month on unwanted and unneeded subscriptions.

Instead of continuing to payout on these monthly orders from Amazon or streaming services you use once a year, log into your bank account and see what fees are coming out monthly and annually. Which products did you sign up for a free trial on and then never use? Which memberships are inactive? Cut costs by canceling each of these outdated expenditures and save a bundle.

Mindless Shopping

With Amazon, Wish, and other sites where you can find practically anything at rock bottom prices, it can be easy to get caught up in the mindless shopping cycle. Those earrings, that makeup, the fitness gear – they all start to feel necessary and exciting.

Mindless consumption, though, has been found to cost Americans, on average, nearly $18,000 a year. This figure includes mindless shopping – that is, buying items out of boredom.

Money Genius offers some insights into alternative costs of mindless shopping, with the key takeaway being to ask, “If I buy this, what can’t I buy later?” That is, will this mindless option prevent me from getting something I actually want or need?

Unnecessary Fees

From bank account fees to online shopping fees, ATM fees and balance transfer fees, Americans spend a ton on unnecessary fees. The average bank fee, for example, runs between $7 and $12 per month. ATM fees average out at $2.50-3.50 per transaction. PayPal fees are up to about 5%. Initially, none of that seems that bad, but if you add up all those fees, you’ll find you’re losing tons of cash.

To avoid the fees, find a bank account that won’t charge fees, only use your own bank’s ATMs for withdrawals, and skip the balance transfers altogether. And, if possible, avoid PayPal and similar services, as they all charge a load just for using the account as a merchant or, in some cases, as a casual consumer.

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By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

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