Americans are great at a lot of things, but some things that we are great at, like wasting money, we should not be proud of. The average American wastes thousands of dollars each year on purchases that they do not need to make and on fees that they could have easily avoided. This results in many households not saving as much as they should to ensure a secure financial future. Here are some of the most common ways that we waste money and what we can do to change these habits.
Unnecessary Banking Fees
Americans can pay hundreds of dollars each year in unnecessary banking fees. These fees can add up quickly and range from $3.50 for using an out of network ATM to $35 for causing an overdraft on your checking account. Most of these fees are fairly easy to avoid if you are aware of them and actively take steps to ensure that you will not trigger any of these additional charges. Make sure that your bank account always has more money deposited than the minimum amount required, keep track of your transactions so you always know how much is in the account, and only use ATMs that will not charge you a fee.
When it comes to convincing people to buy more than they need, retail stores are experts. The retail stores have been so effective at encouraging people to spend that there are now television shows dedicated to helping people get rid of the ridiculous amounts of stuff that they have accumulated throughout the years. In many cases, the extra items that were purchased were never taken out of the packaging. Whenever you plan to go shopping, make a list of the things that you intend to purchase while you are out and stick to this list so you are not buying things that you do not really need.
Another area where people tend to waste a lot of money is on convenience purchases. Nothing demonstrates this more than the proliferation of fast food and fast causal restaurants across the country. Instead of paying a minimal amount for ingredients at the grocery store and taking the time to prepare a meal ourselves, we spend more going to one of these restaurants and paying someone to prepare our food for us. Some people eat at these places nearly every day, not realizing that they could make many of the foods they are eating at home themselves for half of the price they are paying now. To save a significant amount of money each year, cook at home as much as possible and be mindful of the price of the ingredients you are buying.