1. Superfluous cellphone apps

woman hands holding coffee white phone with home screen icons apps and keyboard
Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock

How many apps do you have floating around on your screen that you never really use? One-time purchases can add up, even apps as cheap as $0.99, but the real money sink comes in the form of mobile subscriptions.

These recurring charges seem cheap, so you sign up — or, with some unscrupulous apps, you may not have known you signed up for a subscription at all. Then the apps are easily forgotten until the charge shows up on your monthly credit-card bill.

Consider downloading an app that will make you money, instead. Swagbucks, for example, will give you gift cards and cash for everyday things you already do online.

2. Unused gym memberships

Modern light gym. Sports equipment in gym. Barbells of different weight on rack.
4 PM production / Shutterstock

We know, you signed up for that gym with the best of intentions. Don’t double your problem by paying to not exercise.

Even if you do hit the gym regularly, the cost is substantial. According to media reports, a Statistic Brain study found that the average cost of a gym membership in the United States is $58 per month. That’s close to $700 a year.

It might be a better investment than buying your own workout machines, but those aren’t your only options. Go for a run outside, or try YouTube for plenty of free workout videos that will guide you to physical fitness in your own home.

3. Excess eating out

Two young women at a lunch in a restaurant
djile / Shutterstock

Americans love to dine out, whether it’s fast food or a beloved sit-down spot. You know what you like — and who has time to cook and do dishes these days?

The answer is you, if you’re trying to save money. Eating out just a few times a week will drain your bank account, as you’re also paying for the restaurant’s labor and real estate expenses. Government data shows that the average U.S. household spends $3,459 per year on food away from home.

4. Costly cups of coffee

Barista in apron is holding in hands hot cappuccino in white takeaway paper cup. Coffee take away at cafe shop
Ivan Kurmyshov / Shutterstock

Don’t look at us like that: We’re not trying to take your morning cuppa joe away from you. We’re just suggesting you make it at home for a few cents rather than a few dollars.

According to coffee consultant company E-Imports, the average U.S. coffee drinker consumes three cups per day. If you’re not brewing your own batch and instead opting to visit your favorite shop, you’ll be spending an average of $2.38 per cup. That would add up to about $2,600 a year.

5. Wasteful water bottles

Close-up plastic water bottle in woman hand After Exercise
Ekkasit Rakrotchit / Shutterstock

Plenty of people will say bottled water just tastes better than tap water. Those people are pouring money down the drain.

Tap water is free, and you can filter it yourself at home if you want. And if convenience is the reason you buy bottled water, reusable plastic or metal bottles will do the trick and can be filled up at taps or drinking fountains wherever you go.

6. Old-fashioned cable or satellite TV

Television remote in the foreground with selective focus and television in the background.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Why are you spending more than $100 per month to watch TV through cable or satellite?

Netflix is just $12.99 per month. In fact, for the price of some satellite subscriptions, you could get Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime all together and still save a few bucks.

Streaming is an easy way to save money — and you won’t have to see another ad interrupting your me-time.

7. Playing the odds with lottery tickets

Hands scratching an instant lottery
Hyejin Kang / Shutterstock

Ah, the dream of “winning big.” So enticing. Everyone relishes the idea of becoming an instant millionaire.

But what are the odds of actually winning versus how much you’re likely to spend?

The phrase “one in a million shot” is actually an understatement when it comes to the lottery. The chance of winning Mega Millions is 1 in 302,575,350, while the Powerball jackpot is 1 in 292,201,338. Granted, the odds of winning some small amount of money are much better, but that’s not why you’re playing.

Mega Millions tickets cost $2 per play, which adds up if you buy multiple times throughout the day or week. Investing that $2 through an app like Stash would be a wiser choice.

8. Whiz-bang cellphones and gadgets

Young woman in cool eyeglasses enjoying music on her new smartphone
GaudiLab / Shutterstock

Every year a plethora of new tech gadgets are announced. Companies promise they’ll change your life, but if you think about it, they probably won’t.

New iPhones come out every two years or so, with minor upgrades released in between. Each and every version will have updated features and a new model — but do you really need it? Do you need it more than you need $1,000?

If treated well, cellphones can last for years. Wait until yours starts to chug and new apps stop working, and you’ll have earned your upgrade.

9. Needless name-brand products

Hand holding medicine capsule pack at the pharmacy drugstore.
i viewfinder / Shutterstock

Companies spend a lot of money trying to convince you that their brand is better than their competitors — and certainly better than some generic.

That’s not always true, especially when it comes to medication. The FDA is clear that any generic drug it approves works every bit as well as the brand-name version. You’ll get the same result and end up spending way less.

The same logic doesn’t apply to all products — maybe you do prefer the taste of actual Coca-Cola — but you’ll save a bundle by trying out the generic and seeing what’s just as good.

10. Cheeky withdrawal charges

Closeup of male hands using smart phone while typing on ATM, bank machine
ImYanis / Shutterstock

It’s more convenient to pop over to the nearest ATM, but unless the machine is run by your own bank, you’ll get dinged. Oftentimes you’ll pay close to $5 for the privilege of accessing your own money.

That doesn’t sound like much if you’re withdrawing a couple hundred bucks at a time, but it’s pretty significant when you think about how much the bank is paying you to hold your money.

If you really need to get cash and your bank isn’t around, try going to a grocery store and buying something cheap, like a pack of gum, and then get cash back.

About the Author

Caitlin Cochrane

Caitlin Cochrane

Staff Writer

Caitlin Cochrane is a staff writer with MoneyWise, and has an educational background in human resource management and professional writing. When she is not writing, she is at home drinking tea and playing with her bunnies.

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