You may pride yourself on your ability to stick to a well-strategized budget, but even the most disciplined of spenders fall prey to stealth spending traps that waste money.
Here are five ways you may be wasting your money without realizing it:
1. Paying more for ‘healthy’ processed foods
The key to ensuring a return on your investment when it comes to healthy living is understanding how to separate real value from clever marketing ploys so you don’t waste money.
If you select products based on labels like “natural,” “made with whole grains,” “pesticide-free,” or even “antibiotic-free,” you’re wasting your money.
According to Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices, with the exception of three regulated and legitimate food labels “USDA Certified Organic,” “No antibiotics added,” and “Never ever given antibiotics), other “health food” labels are unregulated, and their claims unsubstantiated.
Even similar phrases like “antibiotic-free,” “free range,” and “hormone free,” aren’t verified by any governing body.
Don’t assume that all brands in the organic aisle are worth their cost, either. Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder reveals that “a number of organic brands have large corporate parents fighting Proposition 37” (an issue on California’s November ballot which includes revamping truth in food labeling standards), “including Naked, Odwalla, Kashi, Morning Star Farms, Larabar, Muir Glen, Silk and Horizon.”
2. Being lax about home energy use
Richard Apfel, president of Skyline Windows, says that the average home in the U.S. wastes 10-15% of energy costs through improperly sealed windows.
There are low-cost solutions to reduce energy bill waste, whether you rent or own your home. For example, Apfel suggests placing a piece of paper in the window frame, and closing the window. “If you can pull out the piece of paper without tearing it, you’ve got an air leak that can be inexpensively remedied with some silicon caulk.”