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We all waste money from time to time but quite often, we don’t even realise we’re doing it. We decide to get our finances in order and tackle the big expenses like saving money on our annual insurances, but as the saying goes “a small leak will sink a great ship” – or in this case, little expenses will ruin your budget. Here’s 11 ways you are wasting money every day… and how you can stop.
Paying For Memberships You Don’t Use
You made a new year’s resolution to get fit and joined a gym, only to stop going after a few weeks. Yet here we are, a few months down the line still paying but not going.
Just cancel that membership. You haven’t gone so far, you’re not likely to start. Stop feeling guilty every time you see the monthly Direct Debit go out and instead put the money to better use elsewhere.
Mornings are a blur, you’re always running late and you remember to take your own lunch one in a blue moon (if you’re lucky). Remember your own bags? You’re lucky if you remember yourself.
Plan ahead and create systems that will help you maintain better habits.
For example; When you go food shopping and after you’ve unpacked, put your reusable bags straight back in the car so that you always have them. Get in the habit of filling a water bottle each morning and leave near your car keys so you don’t forget to take it with you.
Keep a stash of snacks/emergency food in your desk drawer at work or in the boot of your car so that you always have a free lunch option with you.
Think about where you’re frittering your money away and what could help you to stop doing so.
Energy prices are rising and your monthly direct debit keeps going up and up.
First of all, make sure you’re with the cheapest supplier. Then you can start to be more energy conscious around the house. Turn lights off when you leave a room, don’t leave appliances on standby and switch to energy saving bulbs for example. You can find lots more energy saving tips in this post.
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Buying Brand Names
We can all be a bit guilty of being snooty when it comes to labels and brand names. In fact many of us are or have been embarrassed at the thought of buying own brands. But the reality is that in a lot of cases, the budget version of a brand name counterpart is just as good and normally a fraction of the price.
Drop the snootiness and save the extra. Not convinced that basics are good as brands? How about trying a blind taste test. One night we had family over for food so I bought 3 different versions of chocolate spread – smart price (asda’s own brand), nutoka (aldi version) and Nutella (market leader). Everyone tried a spoonful of each (without knowing which was which) and EVERYONE decided Nutoka was the best – mistaking it for Nutella!
Another example from personal experience – I’m definitely not a brand snob but one thing I wouldn’t give up was Tetley tea bags. We recently ran out and unbeknownst to me, Luke bought a box of Lidl Red Label teabags – I couldn’t tell the difference and now have happily made the swap – the saving is enormous!
Not Collecting Cashback
Sign up to Topcashback or Quidco and add them to your favourites.
Store your password so you can quickly log in and search for the store your about to buy from before clicking check out on anything! If you’re shopping on your mobile, download the apps.
Though some retailers take longer than others to pay out, the amount of money you can earn quickly adds up. Don’t forget about larger purchases like new mobile contracts, insurances and holidays as well!
Not Collecting Loyalty Points
You’re at a check out in a shop and the cashier asks if you have a loyalty card. How many times have you answered no? By now you could be racking up valuable points to convert to money off vouchers and other rewards.
Think about all the places you regularly visit (or even occasionally) and sign up for their loyalty programs – especially the places you do your main food shops and the petrol stations you use regularly if applicable – not just supermarket petrol stations either – you can collect clubcard points at Esso Garages, and Shell have their own rewards scheme too.
Throwing Food Away
You went shopping without a list, you didn’t think about the meals you plan to cook for the week and as a result there’s a tray of rotting veg in the fridge.
Take a stock-take of what you have before you go shopping and only add to your shopping list items you need. Plan meals around what’s already in and take note of the ingredients you need for those planned meals. Take your list and stick to it rigidly.
Once a week if you do find you have things going off in the fridge, think about ways in which you can reduce waste. Fruit can be chopped and frozen to add to smoothies. Veggies can be chopped and oven baked for a delicious side dish. Fresh herbs can be chopped and frozen in ice cube trays to add to future meals. If you have a tray of meat that goes off before you’re likely to use it, chuck it in the freezer.
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Letting Gift Vouchers Expire
You’ve received a gift voucher but perhaps it’s not for a place you usually shop or you can’t think of anything you need right now so you shove it in a drawer and forget about it, then when you do remember the valid period for using the voucher has lapsed.
When you receive a gift voucher, check for an expiry date and set a reminder in your phone for a month before. And put it straight in your purse/wallet so that if the opportunity to spend arises when you are out and about, you have it on you. If it’s not a place you’d usually shop, think about other people and what they might like and put it towards a present. If you definitely know you won’t use it, sell it and get some cash that you can spend.
Not Returning Things
If you went through your wardrobe right now, how many items would you find with the tags still attached? I used to be terrible for this. I’d order a load of stuff in the sales just because it was cheap…and then it would turn up. Stuff didn’t fit, didn’t suit my shape, sat weird… all manner of reasons why I’d never be likely to wear it. Yet how many times did I return those items? Zero.
If you buy something only to get it home and realise it’s not quite right, deal with it as soon as possible. If it needs to be returned to a shop, put it in the passenger side of the car where you can see it so you’re constantly reminded to action it. Bought it online? Package it up as soon as you decide it’s no good and do the same. The longer you leave it, the less likely you’ll do it within the returns period.
Eating Out and Getting Takeaways Too Often
You’ve done a big food shop, but you’ve got home from work and you’re too tired to cook. “Shall we get a takeaway?” was one of the most used phrases in my house before I did my July Grocery Challenge, so I totally get it!
Schedule in a takeaway for once or twice a month. Add in a meal out with friends or a date night. You don’t have to give up takeaways and eating out completely, but try to make them a treat rather than a regular occurrence.
Paying For Convenience
As with eating out and getting takeaways too often; convenience is a key factor in the many ways in which we waste money. Consider your weekly food shop – do you buy ready chopped veg packets and fruit pots? Jar sauces? Bags of grated cheese? All of these things are convenient and therefore cost more than their unprepared counterparts.
Set aside a day in the week where you meal prep and plan. Buy loose veg and save a fortune by chopping it and bagging it yourself. Make a big batch of simple pasta sauce or meat sauce that you can portion up and freeze. Not only will this be kinder on your wallet, but it will also be healthier as you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
You might also enjoy…How to Save Money on Eating Out
So how many of these are you guilty of? At some point, I’ve been guilty of all of them! Major change doesn’t happen overnight, but if you keep an eye on where your money goes and make small tweaks, you’ll soon be seeing extra money in your budget that you can put towards your goals.