You work hard for your money and yet there is still less leftover at the end of the month than you are happy with.

Why is that? You try to be conscientious about your spending habits, but somehow it still doesn’t add up.

Have you ever thought about those little things you buy on a daily basis? Those things you don’t even think about anymore, because they are so ingrained, they have become second nature?

Those are usually the things that suck up the money you could be putting aside for a rainy day or that vacation you have been dreaming about.

What are those little spending I’m talking about? Read on. Below I have listed 9 ways you waste your money without even knowing it.

1. Eating Out

Eating out is wonderful, especially when it is at your favorite restaurant and your favorite dish. Someone cooks the meal for you, someone else serves you and you can have that spur of the moment piece of chocolate cake without having to run out to buy it yourself, if you had cooked at home.

And, of course, there is no clean up afterwards. You just make your way leisurely home, put on your pajamas and watch your favorite show. That’s a good life, isn’t it?

Sure, until you check your bank account and realize that all your money is gone and you have no idea where it went. If you are someone, who eats out frequently, then the money ends up as overpriced meals in your stomach.

It takes a toll on your finances and can leave you struggling to make ends meet.

I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to dust off that cookbook someone gave to you for your birthday and start cooking. Just keep the fire extinguisher nearby. 

You’ll be amazed at how much money you will save in a month even just cooking four times a week.

2. Waiting For That Perfect Deal

I have heard people boasting about this perfect trip they went on and they got an amazing deal on it, because they waited. And it was so perfect and so wonderful etc etc. You know the type of gushing I’m talking about.

The truth is, yes, on some items you can wait for promotions such as Black Friday or Boxing Day to get a better price, but when it comes to vacations, waiting until the last minute isn’t really the best way to go. Unless it’s one of those sketchy, cheap places. I guess, if you are into those, then by all means.

All jokes aside, I have booked and planned quite a few overseas vacations for myself and my family, including my 3-week honeymoon with multiple stops along the way. And I can tell you, the more time you spend planning, comparing prices, doing your research and exploring your options, the better.

I used to work for an airline and generally speaking the best airline prices are offered when you book 90 days in advance. That’s the general rule, but keep in mind school holidays, peak and off-peak seasons.

3. Coffee Shop Stops

I talk a lot about that morning ritual many commuters have on their way to work by stopping at their favorite, or most convenient, coffee shop to get that extra slap in the face to face the day.

I get it. Coffee is good, being awake for work even better. But consider how much money you spend each and every day purchasing your overpriced caffeine fix. 

There is also another side to this story. Imagine you work from home, you know, like you see it in the movies. It all looks so good and perfect. 

It does get lonely from time to time, so you get dressed and go to your favorite coffee shop to do some work with a general hum of background noise and people, making you feel less isolated while you write your blog posts or the next great American novel.

As I said, it looks pretty cool in the movies, until you realize you have spent at least $20 on two cappuccinos and a pastry or slice of cake, because you started to feel peckish.

If you do that a few times a week, it can really add up.

4. Unused Gym Memberships

This is a tough one for me to argue, because I used to have a gym membership about 15 years ago and never used it . I also have a membership now and I use it four times a week.

Here is the thing about those gym memberships: if you know your schedule can get ridiculous and can change from week to week or monthly, don’t sign up for a membership.

I know you are trying your hardest to make positive changes in your life and live healthier, but having that money come out of your account every month only adds to your stress.

Instead, check out YouTube, they have tons of workout videos, ranging from circuit training to yoga and everything in between. You can roll out of bed, put on your working pants and not worry about your raccoon eyes, because you haven’t put on your make-up to go to the gym.

5. Impulse Buys

I hate shopping. There, I said it.

I hate it, because I impulse buy, I get flustered with the crowds inside the stores, I get tired running from store to store, hoping to find what I’m looking for and I sometimes try to cut corners. 

I know which store sells jeans that fit me the best, but they are also more expensive than the jeans I can get at a discount store. So, I will buy two pairs at the discount store. Obviously they won’t fit properly and after about a month I go to the store with the good jeans and buy a pair there.

What a waste of money and time.

If you tend to get really enthusiastic about a sweater or pair of shoes that look oh so cute, here is a little trick I have forced myself to learn; ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I really want to try it on before buying it?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Do I have space in my apartment/house for it?
  • Does it go with anything I own?
  • Do I have something similar to it already?
  • Can I afford it?

Usually by the time I’m done asking myself all those questions I’m hungry and just want to go home. If I keep thinking about the item days late and realize it would actually serve my needs and I have the funds for it, I will go back and purchase it.

6. Grocery Shopping Without a Meal Plan

This is a tricky one, because you won’t know for sure what will be available at the grocery store until you get there.

We have come up with a set weekly meal plan which various options that we tend to switch up with the season (a summer meal plan and a winter one). 

So, if no roast is on sale we make burger patties. If the fish doesn’t look too fresh anymore, we go with homemade spicy pork.

But, whatever we do, we always have a meal plan in mind and go shopping once a week to help us cut down on buying things we really don’t need.

Another important tip: do not go grocery shopping when hungry. If your grocery store offers pre-cooked BBQ chicken, I swear they pump that delicious scent into the air vents at the entrance and it will make you ten times as hungry.

Before you know it you bought pickled eggs (for some reason), cilantro, which you have never used before, but it looks really good, canned pink salmon paste and baker’s dark chocolate.

Have a snack before entering a grocery store, your wallet will thank you.

7. Forgetting to Cancel Free Trials

A few years ago I had apparently signed up for a free one-month trial of some sort and in true capitalist fashion the company began charging me a monthly fee without informing me that the trial has expired and I somehow had agreed to being charged the regular fee from there on out.

It took me a while to catch on, but once I did I was not very happy. I have been wasting money on a service I did not use and did not want to use.

So, mark your calendar of those important dates and cancel any trial before the company starts charging you.

8. Paying Late Fees

Those pesky late fees can really add up, from credit cards to library charges they are there to pull your money out of your pockets.

Again, get out your budget/finance calendar and note any billing due dates to avoid those charges.

I know it can be difficult making those credit card payments, but with a proper budget calculate at least the minimum amount into your monthly expenditures.

9. Not Doing Research

I have touched on this particular topic in the other points I have made above, but I thought it important to give it its own bullet point, because it is a sort of umbrella term for the argument I want to make.

Do your research, because the world can be very alluring. Social media can be tempting to show you what you are “supposed” to do, have and be. 

Purchasing things blindly, because everyone has it or does it in order to keep up appearances and with the Jones’ can bring you in hot financial water.

The same is true when making important investments, such as a new computer, TV or cell phone. Don’t just go for what looks pretty and what is cheapest. Take a look at consumer reviews, compare operating systems, battery life, storage space etc.

You may have gotten a good deal at first, but if the item/device breaks after three months (and it shouldn’t have), you are bound to purchase the item/device again and not really saving any money.

Also, don’t just buy something just because (i.e., impulse buying) or because it makes you feel like you belong. If your social circle puts that much emphasis on material things, then maybe they aren’t really your friends.

Final Thoughts

There are so many different and sneaky ways we spend money, waste money, lose money that we never even thought about that could end up in our savings account instead. It’s mind boggling.

Saving money, becoming more frugal and really deciding what’s important in life can be a huge lifestyle change. 

You may realize that your life squirreling away clothes and fashion jewelry has made you unhappy the last few years and that a life more on the minimalist side gives you the emotional and psychological freedom you have been craving for so long.

Take a look at your hidden costs and spending and see where you can make those happy changes.