How many ways do you waste money?

by Nick on November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday everyone!  I figured it might be appropriate to post about wasting money today as many folks spend, spend, spend today like it’s going out of style (it’s not)! 

And Walletpop recently highlighted nine top ways we waste money.  So I figured I would post about it today.

The short list is:

  1. Bottled water;
  2. Energy drinks;
  3. Coffee;
  4. Using “super” in your tank;
  5. Oil changes every 3000 miles;
  6. Cigarettes;
  7. Brand-name products;
  8. Children’s birthday parties; and
  9. Eating out on lunch breaks.

This list could almost be named “Nick’s money pet peeves” and no one would know the difference.  I very rarely agree with an entire list, though, and this one isn’t perfect.  For example, I get that you don’t need to change oil every 3000 miles.  But I haven’t been able to tear myself away from that.  I think it’s a calculated item that I just “spend” for peace of mind.  I also rationalize that a buyer of my car would like to see records of an oil change every 3000 miles.  If I drive my car for 120,000 miles (to make the math easier) going from 3000 to 6000 miles would likely only save me $500 (assuming $25 per change if I don’t do them myself). 

I’m not saying $500 is not a lot of money, but $500 over the course of five or ten years is small compared to the value (or perceived value) to a purchaser of buying a used car that was taken care of well.  I suspect at least some of the $500 would be made up in getting a better price.  Also, while I don’t do many oil changes myself these days, at some point relatively soon I’ll have a driveway and start doing more myself.  So the number is likely going to be lower than $500. 

Here are the other ones I’m guilty of:

  1. Bottled water (Not my fault for what it’s worth – my wife likes the convenience of them, so we budget for them.  We do refill the bottles with purified water or from the fountain at the gym though);
  2. Coffee (Rarely – maybe once a month);
  3. Brand-name products (Rarely – usually only when we perceive a value or use coupons to get the price below generic, but there are some name brands we spend more for (as long as we’re in budget, of course.).;
  4. Children’s birthday parties (So far only one.  But it was fairly expensive.  I suspect planning all of the “firsts” for our son is going to include a lot of emotions and result in overspending…); and
  5. Eating out on lunch breaks (I’ve cut this down a ton, but spend $5-6 at least once or twice a week.  Never more than three times a week though.).

Not bad, I guess.  At least I don’t do the worst one of them all.  You guessed it: Cigarettes.  Not only are they expensive (I think they’re $14 per pack across from my office in NYC), but they KILL YOU!!  And, before they kill you they cost you a bunch (in higher insurance premiums and health care costs, for example). 

What about you?  What do you waste money on?

Until next time, put your credit card down and slowly step away from the mall!

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