10 Mindless Ways You're Spending Money


Have you ever heard the term "conscious spending"? The idea revolves around being mindful with your dollars. Instead of treating your life as a restrictive budgeting experience, you have a handle on where your money is going and an awareness as to the value (monetary and emotional, etc.) you're getting from your purchases. The thing is, too many of us are spending zombies. We don't think about it; we just spend it. (See also: How to Never Succumb to Impulse Spending Again)

Here are some sneaky ways you (and I) are spending money.

1. Bottled Beverages

Beverages are a huge money waster for my husband. He enjoys coffee, craft beer, smoothies, and even bottled water. I added up how much we spent on drinks one month and the total was a staggering $100. Needless to say, we've learned to love our tap.

2. Magazine Subscriptions

Here's my vice. I love magazines, but I rarely find the time to read them with everything going on in our lives. The other problem I've had with subscriptions is that some of them have automatically renewed without me realizing it. Though the expense might not be great, it's still dollars out of my pocket.

3. Supplements

Between protein powder, extra vitamins, and all other types of supplements, you might be spending a pretty penny on health-related items. Thing is, not all claims have been proven, and multivitamins might not be as good for you as you think. Eating a whole foods diet can often give the same benefit with less financial backlash.

4. Entertainment

No, I'm not going to tell you to become a friendless hermit to save money. However, many of us blow cash every weekend on movies, concerts, and other events when there are plenty of cheap or free things to do. All it takes is a look at the local calendar and some imagination. (See also: 47 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend)

5. Energy

We all want to stay warm in the winter chill or cool in the summer heat, but many of us could use an energy audit. Cracks in windows, gaps in doors, and old thermostats could literally be sucking the change from your bank account. To start, try these seven ways to lower your winter energy costs — you could save hundreds of dollars this way.

6. Online Shopping

If you've stored your credit card information on your favorite online shop, you could be getting more than you bargained for, quite literally. All those emails and social media messages broadcasting "big deals" might send you flying over all too often to buy things you may or may not need — and it often takes just one click. Online shopping certainly has its merits, but make it harder by entering your pay information by hand, giving yourself a few extra minutes to consider your purchases.

7. Clothing

Closely related to online shopping is clothing itself. While it's fun to keep up with the latest style trends, it can add up quickly. Soon you have a closet of clothes you wear infrequently. I used to spend hundreds on clothes each year, and nothing was getting good use. Now? I've switched to a more minimalist wardrobe, and I look smart while spending in a savvy way. (See also: 8 Essentials for Your Capsule Wardrobe)

8. Food

We all have had that moment at the grocery checkout when the total has made our jaws drop. And, generally speaking, many of us are spending far too much money on food and restaurants. There are some opportunities for improvement, though. Shopping at discount grocers like Aldi can help. So can creating a solid meal plan and buying only the ingredients you need, which can also save your food from spoiling. (See also: 25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Grocery List)

9. Grocery Add-Ons

It's true — those impulse items continue to get us almost every time. Resist the urge to add candy, gum, and even cigarettes to your order in the checkout line. Skip those lottery tickets that usually yield very little in return. Other add-ons include anything and everything store managers choose to stock by the register. Put your blinders on, if necessary, because every little bit helps.

10. ATM Fees

Sure, it might not seem like a lot in the moment when you need cash. But — over time — those $4 ATM fees will suck you dry. To avoid them, try to think ahead for when you'll need paper money. Then, always aim for a fee-free ATM (usually the bank where you hold a checking account) or actually going to your bank to get out the dollars you need.

Any other mindless spends I've overlooked? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Thrifty Writer

As a resident of one of the boroughs of NYC, my friends and I often like going to the free nights at museums (usu. Friday nights). It's a lot of fun. Sometimes, you end up stopping at a diner at the end of the evening, but if you have time before, you can always eat a sandwich or something that you've made, before you leave work (or grab a $1 slice of pizza on the way there - not as healthy, but def. cheap!)

Ashley Marcin's picture

Yes! That’s definitely a good idea :) I also fall victim to those free events that actually get me spending money!

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