Ways You’re Wasting Money & Don’t Even Know It

Ever since I got new place and did an inventory of my necessities and niceties, I figured out I was overspending at my old pad. Common things I realized I didn’t need, use, or even want were eating up an eighth of my paycheck. Read on below to see what they were, how much it used to cost, and how to replace it with something cheaper.

1. Having a Landline

Landlines are antiquated. Comcast charges $29.95 a month for unlimited talk and text on their landline phones for six months, and then shoots back up to $39.95 -$44.95 a month.  I was also surprised to see accessible voicemail listed a premium service. There’s no reason to pay for a landline anymore, not if you have an Internet connection and a cellphone. You can use free services like Skype, Google Hangouts and Google Voice to connect via video or phone chat for conversations. If you find that you spend lots of time on your landline, consider upgrading your cellphone bill to unlimited talk –I’m confident it won’t add an extra $50 to you bill like a landline does. [Also See: 4 Reasons to Keep Your Landline]

  • Old cost: about $420 a year (six months at $29.95 + six months at $39.95)
  • New cost: $0
  • Savings: $420

2. Buying bottled waterwaste-money

I used to buy lots of bottled water, especially when I was on an exercise kick. I would buy about half-dozen gallon jugs a week, each costing about $2 each. That’s $12 a week, or $48 a month, or $576 a year. Yikes. I’d also end up kicking empty jugs around and filling up my trash way to quickly. Not wanting to make my new place dirtier than it was inevitably going to be, I figured I’d find a water filter. I went ahead and bought a Bobble jug for $23.43 at Amazon. Filters last a couple months and cost $8 at Target (note: I’ve read the reviews, and some people complain about slow filters, but I haven’t had a problem yet. Hopefully it stays that way, cause I like this thing).

  • Old cost: $576 a year
  • New Cost: $71.43
  • Savings:  $504 .57

3. TV subscriptions

Do you like to binge on shows, watching an entire season the day before the newest one comes out? Do you like to watch movies when they’re ‘on’ TV, but don’t necessarily find yourself running to a Redbox? Then ditch your cable TV provider and get Netflix or a Roku. In 2011, the average pay TV service hit $86 a month, and is growing at 6 percent annually, according to the NPD Group.  True, some bundles will offer better deals and include Internet, but those only last so long. You don’t want to get a $49 a month special for TV and (slow) Internet for six months, and then all of a sudden be locked into $100 a month. I use Netflix’s streaming-only service for $7.99 a month and hook up my computer to the television with a $5 HDMI cable.

  • Old cost: $1032 a year (at $86 a month)
  • New cost: $96
  • Savings: $936

4. Virus protection

I thought I was getting a good deal for a one year’s worth of virus protection by McAfee for $29.95. And then I figured out I could just get free virus protection from Avast!, CCleaner, or Microsoft Security Essentials. In my experience, virus protection does nothing. I scan everything I download with Avast!, and I regularly sweep my computer for cookies and old registry files with CCleaner.  The result? No infections. Just be careful where you plug in your credit card information, change your email passwords every three to four months, and keep an eye on your bank account for unusual charges.

  • Old cost: $29.95 a year
  • New cost: $0
  • Savings: $29.95

5. Daily Starbucks

Out of everything on this list, this was the hardest. It was also one of the more expensive ones. Of course, if your coffee sucks, you’re not going to go straight back to $7 lattes. Grab these tools:

$5.68 for a milk frother

$16.34 for a French Press or  $22.33 for a coffee maker

$13.99 for a no-frills coffee grinder

You’ll also need beans. That cost is a variable, but it should run you maybe $8 a lb. If you have a Trade Joe’s, they have some great, cheap beans for sale. Buy them whole, and chop them before using the French Press or coffee maker. If you want to make a latte, heat up some milk (or soy milk’) in a pan and use the frother as it’s heating. Add some sugar for a sweeter flavor; it’ll turn into a thick, foamy froth that will sit on top of your coffee.  Now you can make simple lattes that hit the spot and save money.

  • Old cost: $30 a week (five coffees a week at $6 each).
  • New cost: One time cost of $36.01 for the frother, French Press, and grinder. Add about 2lbs of beans a month for $16.
  • Savings: pays for itself within a month.

Have you cut anything out of your life after you figured out how much money you were wasting? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. says

    We have cut out a number of these things and it really does save a good bit of money. We gave up our landline about 2-3 years ago, and should’ve sooner, and it’s crazy how much that alone saves each year.

  2. says

    We haven’t had a land line or cable for years and I know it’s saved us boatloads of money. My husband made high-tech bunny ears so we get all the local channels in HD, plus we use Windows Media Center as our DVR. Tivo is a waste these days, too!

  3. EastsideJoe says

    I drink lots of bottled water because our local water tastes like crap. But I only pay about 11-cebts a bottle at Kroger. I’ve never even seen a 2-dollar bottle of water! Have not yet found a filter that tastes good. As for “free” security protection, you often get what you pay for. I use the paid Symantec Endpoint, the paid Malware bites, and the free CCleaner and Microsoft security essentials. This combo keeps me clean and while I pay about 60-bucks a year. It’s the first set-up I’ve had in forever that keeps me good to go. It can cost $80-130 to have the local computer pro’s clean up virus and spyware problems, do that 3-4 time a year and you’re really hurting. Agree about the TV, phone and coffee stuff, good article.

  4. Ken says

    I have the Comcast triple play bundle – cable tv, phone and internet. I’d gladly get rid of the landline phone but the savings will be mostly eaten up by the price of everything else going up because I’d lose the bundle discount. I don’t want to give up my cable tv or my very fast internet connection.

  5. Dick says

    Phone; I have a Virgin mobile that I load whenever needed. About $ 20/month. TV; can’t get away with it it. I chase specials every two years. So far $ 50/month. Anti virus; free with Sophos for Mac. Water; I go to the local reverse osmosis store and fill in 5 gallons jugs. Lasts one month with 4 jugs for about $8.5. Bonus; my arms look like those of this guy in X-men. Starsucks; it sucks so it’s not a problem

  6. Craig says

    Here’s a suggestion for folks that do significant social drinking associated with hobbies or pass-time activities. I remember that when I used to be on a bowling league team we all ended up spending significant sums on liquor. For a couple, even 2 or 3 drinks each can add up to a pretty sizable bill by the end of the evening. Now my wife and I play on two different pool leagues, which of course, puts us in bars two times a week. We started limiting ourselves to one drink with alcohol per night and filling in with soda or “virgin” cocktails. You’d be surprised how good a Virgin Mary tastes compared to the usual Bloody Mary where the vodka covers up a lot of the subtle flavors of the other ingredients. Bottom line is that we are saving between $150 and $200 per month. That’s up to $2400 a year! We also don’t have to worry about getting stopped and failing a breath test on the way home. A little bonus for us: we are winning more matches now! LOL.

  7. Judy says

    But I still want high speed internet service for my computer — I work from it a lot. How do I get that?

  8. says

    I wish my wife would let me get ride of some of these things. Since our wedding I’ve had a hard time convincing her to be frugal like me.


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