Budgeting Saving

10 Worst Things to Spend Your Money On

Let’s face it! Before your paycheck hits your bank account, there are probably at least 3 or 4 automatic bill payments ready to eat away at your hard earned cash before you can even think about spending it. The gym membership and streaming service (that you often forget to use, but they never forget to take payment for), along with paying for your life necessities (housing, health insurance, food, etc), can leave most feeling like they are in a hamster wheel only working to pay bills.

Trust me, I know the feeling! I worked in corporate finance for almost ten years. I made what most would consider a good living, but with every wage increase the expenses would inflate all the more. The clear way to get the most benefit out of the money we earn is through efficient money management. And be wise about what we spend our money on, whether it is a want or a need (a waste or a benefit).

The dreaded idea, which means you have to track where your money goes and actually be accountable. For most people they hear the words money management and cringe. But without going down the path of creating a budget, a savings plan, tracking spending and minimizing debt (all of which are great ways to keep more of your money), here are some items many waste money on that you can cut out today.

I highly recommend starting a budget or creating some financial plan down the line. After you’ve had success cutting out these top 10 worst things to spend money on, you’ll feel more empowered about your abilities to be a good money manager. Without further ado, here they are:

1. The Hotel Minibar
You’re on vacation, why not, right?! Wrong! As tempting and convenient as its array of snacks, liquors and drinks may be, there is almost always a better. The exorbitant markup charged on a small bottle of water alone is enough to ward off any moments of weakness, and force a weary traveler to order room service or drive to the nearest convenience store. According to the Economist, many hotels may be moving to eliminate minibars altogether, but until then that $6 bottle of water or $12 shot of vodka isn’t worth it.

2. Cigarettes, E-Cigs, & Other Tobacco products
Most people can understand why this item is a major financial burden. Tobacco users would agree that this habit is expensive and has no health benefit whatsoever. Yes, even the alternative E-Cigs, which smokers are using to help kick the habit & is just more popular as of late, has the cost of the smoking unit and then the tobacco recharge pack costs…and the cycle continues.

3. Liquor, and All Other Pick Your Poison Substances
Now I may get a lot of flak for including liquor in this group, but I’m sticking to my guns. I know the majority of the world imbibes liquor on a regular basis, but anything done in excess will cost you. In this case it will cost you money, you will pay by suffering poor health, and if the addiction is severe you lose sense of self and any quality of life. It sounds like an intro to an episode of Intervention, a bit melodramatic and unnecessarily serious. According to a study from the National Institute of Health the opioid addiction in the US has hit record levels, also seeing increased deaths from overdoses including those of young people. I’d say it takes us looking at things honestly and calling a spade a spade. If you’re addicted to anything, get help to quit.

4. Lottery
Are you lucky? Hey, some people are and have the odds in their favor. They’ve even won multiple lottery drawings in the past. But if you look at the odds, most people pay far more buying tickets than they ever receive as a lottery payout. That’s if they ever get a payout. It is gambling the ordinary way. You are paying for the possibility of winning some money. More often you lose. How about you keep your money and save that for a rainy day instead of funding lottery hopes.

5. Newspaper subscriptions
I got the call early this year. ‘Would you like a subscription to the newspaper? We’re offering this great deal that gives you a free $200 gift card.’ The gift card got me once before, and it was right around this time of year too. Cash strapped consumers look at it as free money in light of the impetus to purchase gifts for the holiday season.

That gift card is far from free. By accepting you are locked in for a year (sometimes 2 years) of automatic withdrawal fees being deducted every month for a newspaper that is delivered every day, and quite frankly you don’t even read. Today, most people spend most of their time reading on their cellphones or e-readers, so getting an online subscription makes more sense than the print one they still offer. Moreover, you are paying far more in the long-run than that upfront $200 incentive.

6. Time Shares
It sounds great! It’s a way to have a vacation home without having the maintenance and total expense that owning a vacation property would cost. Then again, it’s another monthly cost for something you use once a year, if you get around to it. It’s a nice idea, but your money would work better taking that time share monthly fee and saving toward a vacation or investing.

7. Bank Fees
Banks stay rich because of the ignorance of most patrons. If you slip up and bounce a check you will get hit with a high overdraft fee. In some cases, you can be charged even an extended overdraft fee if you take more than a few days to add funds to your account. Like way to kick a man while he’s down bank, really. Check your account stipulations to ensure you are meeting all of the requirements to avoid paying the bank overdraft and other fees.

8. Fast Food
Ugh!! I know! I love food. Particularly, I love the kind that comes smelling delicious and scorching hot served to you in a nice restaurant. Whether it’s the drive through window or a restaurant, you are paying a significant markup for food you can prepare for yourself for less. I, like you, am still searching for a way to limit the amount of money I spend on fast food. I used the once a week rule, and even a dollar limit rule. Now, I may try giving myself an incentive. If I save a few hundred dollars this month, then I can treat myself to a meal out costing no more than 10% of what I saved. Ah, we’ll see. I’ll let you know how it goes.

9. Rent
We all need a place to live. And I’m sure you’ve encountered the adage, it’s better to own than to rent. But realistically, you need to save up a significant amount of money, and be in a good financial position to purchase a home. This takes time.

Depending on your position, if you must rent, pay as little as possible. Even if it means swallowing your pride and living in your parents’ basement for a few years, it’s better than paying someone else’s mortgage and not being able to save your money.

If you are going to buy, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development lists a number of things you must consider before purchasing a property. They note benefits like tax write offs, equity built in property overtime, and it being all your own.

You may want that high end property in the choice school district, but might have to buy at the lower price range so you can afford life in this new house. A good rule-of thumb is to keep your total cost for housing around a third of your monthly income, or less. Remember you have other expenses, food, utilities, gas, etc.

10. Fads of Any Sort
By this I mean any new craze. It could be the new diet and exercise craze that requires supplements and purchasing meals. Or it could be the hot new leather pants everyone is wearing. If you have kids, it’ll be what’s rolled out in the Toys R’Us catalogue nearing Christmas time. I know firsthand how hard it is not to buy into this hype when every commercial is telling you and your family that your life will be better with this item. Trust me, it won’t. Just a few months ago, my daughter was obsessed with Shopkins toys. That was all she asked for, and she managed to collect over a hundred different Shopkins pieces. Now, she can’t even find the box she held them in, and quite honestly I’m madder about it than she is I believe.

What I’m saying is all that glitters ain’t gold! I’ve used a lot of clichéd phrases in this piece, but you get my drift. Take time to decipher your wants from your needs. Even take time to scrutinize if you’re getting the most benefit from the things you’re spending your money on. Comment below and let us know some of the worst things you’ve regretted spending your money on.

What do you REFUSE to spend money on? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Stasie Tillman

Stasie Tillman is a writer & an investment and personal finance analyst. She oversaw the Analytics department for a prominent Long Island, New York brokerage firm for many years. She’s on a quest to
live a balanced life in all aspects (mind, body, and spirit). Come be encouraged and find inspiration to live A Stoic Life.


  • Fast food helps. During the hollidays, Christmas and Mother’s @ Father’s Day the restaurants almost all run specials like but $25 get $5 for yourself. Some like O’Charlies even give $10 for $25. You have to use the bonus cards by a certain date or they expire. Keep all of the cards to use yourself and spread them out over the year and don’t allow yourself more.

    • Those are great alternatives. The cable thing is a major cost savings, when finally realizing that you don’t watch half the cable channels offered. And I don’t understand why the bigger name cell companies are so much more expensive. As if we’re paying for the brand name of cell service. lol. Good luck with the transition. It’ll be worth it in cost savings.

  • For me the worse thing I ever spent my money on was a fad diet… I heard the ad on the radio and it sounded so promising. “Doctor monitored” I went for the “free” consultation and walked away $2200 further in debt and a whole 1-2#’s lighter after 45 days. The “diet promised” a loss of 1-2# per day and I went every week and followed the program to the letter. In the 45 days I was going I saw the doctor twice, on my initial visit and about half way thru because I expressed my frustration of following the program and not losing any weight so he came in and talked to me and told me that not everyone is the same but I should keep doing what I was doing and it would happen. It took a year and a half to pay off that debt and I am still no lighter than I was the day I started the program, other than in the pocket book.

  • Cable, I would rather not have at all, but I use internet to work, so I have my cable at the bare minimum, that still gets me the internet I need to work, at the best speed I can get for the lowest price.. I absolutely will not pay for designer clothes I can make for myself.

    • I agree. I’m cutting cable as soon as my hubby agrees! Lol. I’ve heard of some low cost WiFi options, but I haven’t looked into them fully yet. I need WiFi to work from home so that’s risky for me.

    • Agreed! So many other good options for TV programs, such as the fire stick, Roku or Chromecast that cable and its high costs are becoming obsolete.

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