Did you know that Americans waste half a TRILLION dollars every year? And that's just what economists can measure! The true figure is probably much higher than that. These days, though, we don't have the luxury of flushing our money down the toilet. So, what are you wasting money on? And, more importantly, how can you stop?
1. Wasted food - $165 billion each year.
Before you order in a pizza or head to the drive-through window, take a look in your fridge. Odds are you've got food you've already paid for that'll make for a great meal!
Think everything in your fridge looks boring? Head to the world wide web and search for some ways to jazz up the ingredients you've got. A few creative new recipes could save you hundreds of dollars every month!
2. Wasted energy - $146 billion each year.
You thought your electric bill seemed high, but yikes! Luckily, cutting back on your energy costs doesn't require a complete life overhaul. Instead, simple things - like changing your air filter every three months, turning the thermostat in your water heater down slightly, and using cold water in the washing machine - can make a huge difference.
3. Credit card interest - $49 billion each year.
Did you know the average American cardholder has a balance of more than $2,000 every month and an APR of nearly 13%? You can avoid all of that debt in the first place by creating (and sticking to!) a reasonable budget. Use your credit cards sparingly - like for that unexpected trip to the emergency room, instead of a shopping spree at the mall. And, when you do pay with plastic, set firm goals for paying the balance off.
4. Traffic tickets - $12 billion each year.
This is a low estimate, because it's impossible to add up all of the extra insurance premiums that add up as a result!
So, slow down, stop texting, use your turn signal, and do all of those other great things you learned in Driver's Ed. Sure, you might get to your destination five minutes later or miss a phone call, but at least you won't see police lights in your rear-view mirror!
5. ATM fees - $7 billion each year.
Sounds kind of ridiculous, right? After all, you're paying money to get your own money! Unfortunately, banks keep charging more and more for the convenience of ATMs.
So, what's the solution?
Say "bon voyage" to that giant bank. Big banks are the worst when it comes to through-the-roof ATM fees. Smaller banks even tend to have arrangements with places (like grocery stores) where you can use the ATM for free. Some credit unions take it a step further by reimbursing you for ATM fees!
If all else fails, avoid the ATM altogether. Instead, wait until you have an errand to run and get cash back at the register. That's always free!