Many of us are careful about how we spend our money because we’re on tight budgets. We use various strategies to cut back on spending, including clipping coupons, shopping sales, and eating out infrequently.
Unfortunately, there are a number of less noticeable ways that many of us waste money. Here are six of these.
Wastes of money you don’t think about
- Driving on underinflated tires. If you drive on underinflated tires, you get fewer miles per gallon of gasoline (this is because underinflated tires have higher rolling resistance). You also run the risk of wearing out your tires prematurely and you have less-than-optimal control while braking, driving on wet pavement, and using evasive maneuvers. This lack of control can lead to an accident, which is likely to be costly. In regards to the gas mileage, you may be losing as much as $2.00 per fill-up (source). You may think this isn’t relevant to you because you have a TPMS, but it may be. Many of these systems don’t toggle on the warning light until tire pressures dip by 20 percent or more. Therefore, your tires may be underinflated even though the warning light is off. Get yourself a simple pressure gauge and check the pressure yourself!
- Consuming standby power. Most of us have several electronic items in our homes that continuously consume power, even when they are not in use. This standby power consumption is sometimes referred to as “vampire power.” According to experts, these items—phone and computer chargers that are not in use, appliances with a keypad or display that includes LED lights, etc.—account for around 10% of domestic energy use. Read more about standby power and how to reduce its consumption here.
- Being disorganized. Disorganization impacts things like our productivity and the cleanliness of our homes, but what does it have to do with money? Believe it or not, being disorganized can end up costing you money.
- Can’t find that key in the chaos of the junk drawer? You’ll have to pay a locksmith to open the lock.
- Unable to find your phone charger amidst the supplies and documents all over your desk? You’ll need to buy a new one.
- Not sure what to make for dinner because you don’t have a menu planned? You’ll need to purchase take-out.
- Unable to locate that library book in the mess of the playroom? You’ll have to pay overdue fines at the library.
- Using the clothes dryer. The clothes dryer costs money for a couple of reasons. First, drying clothes in a clothes dryer wears them out more quickly than letting them air dry. Second, it uses lots of electricity. The average clothes dryer costs $0.25 to $0.75 to run for an hour (source). If you wash six loads of laundry each week and it takes 45 minutes to dry each of these, then you spend roughly $2.25 on the clothes dryer each week. This is about $9.00 each month or $117 per year. Of course, these costs will be higher if you do more than six loads of laundry per week, if your dryer isn’t energy efficient, if it takes longer than 45 minutes to dry a load, and/or if you use the dryer in between loads to “iron” clothes. For many of us, this cost isn’t alarming. However, I know we could benefit from using that money on other things!
- Purchasing unnecessary laundry and cleaning products. It’s amazing how much laundry and cleaning products cost. Many of these are unnecessary and some are even hazardous to health! Consider fabric softeners, for example. They’re pricey and most contain things like quaternary ammonium compounds, phthalates, and galaxolide, which do things like trigger asthma, irritate the skin, and mess with the endocrine system (source). Healthier options like plain white vinegar in the rinse cycle or wool dryer balls are effective and cheap! Antibacterial cleaning products (wipes, sprays, soaps, etc.) are another unnecessary purchase. These are no more effective than regular soaps and detergents, and they contribute to antibiotic resistance (source). They’re also endocrine disruptors. Better options include soap or detergent with hot water, vinegar, chlorine bleach, and hydrogen peroxide.
- Buying everything brand new. New things generally cost more than used things, so buying used is a great way to save money. Cars are an excellent example. New cars depreciate by as much as 11% simply by being purchased and driven off the lot (at this point they are considered “used”). In other words, if you purchase a $20,000 vehicle, it will lose roughly $2,200 in value by the time you arrive home with it (source). Other items that you can save a lot by buying used include clothes (check out consignment stores for clothes that are fashionable and in good shape), books, toys, furniture, and musical instruments.
Simply thinking through these money wasters helps me think of new ways my household can save money!
Can you think of additional ways many of us waste money without realizing it? Share these with us below.