How much money do you waste each month? Have you ever tallied it up, or do you just groan at the impulse buys as they add up on your bank statement?
The Ascent from Motley Fool surveyed 1015 people about their spending habits. Their average estimate for how much money they wasted each month? $199.
79 per cent of those surveyed said they wasted more money than they should. Respondents agreed that paying excessive or unnecessary fees or interest is an obvious waste of money; so is impulse buying and making purchases of items you already have.
But when people discussed their their own spending habits, it turns out they were making a lot of choices that could be considered wasteful. Throwing out leftovers or just-expired food was a prime offender. So was buying fast food, spending too much on drinks, and shopping on impulse.
Why do we waste money? Survey says: desire.
“I really wanted something” was the most cited reason for wasteful spending. Convenience ranked second and “to make myself feel good” came in third.
But more than half the respondents said they’ve had regrets about their wasteful spending, indicating that our justification in the moment can quickly fade away.
Compare this to another recent survey that found shoppers make an average five impulse buys per month, costing them over $150. That survey also noted that 58 per cent of the respondents felt there were other important things they couldn’t afford, like saving for retirement.
How to fight wasteful spending
I’m not here to assign value to your purchases. But if the spending habits identified in the survey speak to you, we surely have tips to help you improve.
If you want to spend less on takeout
Create a meal plan that works for you. Meal planning doesn’t mean you have to spend all day Sunday planning a menu, going to the store, and cooking meals that will last all week. Even the simple act of looking ahead at your calendar can help you figure out when it makes the most sense to turn to your favourite convenience options.
If you end up regretting your impulse buys
If your shopping motto tends to be “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it,” tone it down with one of our methods for curbing impulse spending. My favourite is to wait 24 hours before buying unplanned items that cost more than $30.
If your bar tabs horrify you
Spending too much on delicious cocktails? So am I. Try sticking to cash next time you go to happy hour.
If influencers are making you feel bad
Remember that self-care is what makes you feel good, and does not necessarily require spending all your discretionary funds on bath bombs. We’ve got plenty of free self-care ideas if you want to try something new.