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Most people today work more hours, commute longer, and hustle like crazy and still have little to show for it.
Surprisingly, a majority of Americans today admit that they are living paycheck to paycheck, drowning in student loan and consumer debt, and struggling to make ends meet.
According to The Motley Fool, 8 out of 10 people admit that they need to stop wasting money in order for things to really change.
Be honest: How often do you catch yourself wasting money on absolutely stupid things? No matter the cause, most of us waste hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every year.
The good news is you absolutely can do something about it!
5 Tips to Stop Wasting Money in 2019
The following 5 tips to stop wasting money are easy to implement and will get you on track to crush your debt and save more money in the year ahead.
1. Cut Your Food Expenses As Much As Possible
We’ve all been there: you’re checking out at the grocery store, and when the last item crosses the conveyor belt, the total cost sends you into shock. It happens to even the most frugal savers, and it hurts.
But the truth is that it’s fairly simple to save money on food — you just need to implement a few of the best money saving tips, stick to a plan, and watch the food savings add up.
Here are our top recommendations to save money on food:
Make weekly meal plans
If you struggle with meal planning or just don’t have the time to do it, check out $5 Meal Plan. To date, over 35,000 families have cut their average meal plan time from just over 2 hours down to practically no time at all thanks to $5 Meal Plan. And they’re not wasting money on foods that mysteriously sneak into their carts, either!
Don’t shop on an empty stomach
This will just tempt you to buy what you don’t need. While you’re at it, leave the kids at home. too, if you can.
Eat leftovers for lunch
Here’s why: Let’s get conservative and estimate that you spend $3 per day on lunch and only eat out four days per week.
$3 x 4 days/week x 50 weeks/year* = $600
Use your phone to save
Get the free Ibotta app to boost your savings. We use it to save $20 or more each month. Here’s how it works:
- Sign-up with Ibotta (you’ll qualify for a $10 bonus once you redeem your first offer) and download the app.
- Check out local cash back offers before you go shopping and add them to your grocery list. Offers change frequently, but I have great luck with offers on items such as toiletries, milk, beer/wine, fresh produce, laundry detergent, diapers and baby formula, and over the counter medicine. (Ibotta has recently expanded offers to include new categories, including Travel, Clothing, Electronics, and Restaurants.)
- Redeem offers by snapping a photo of your receipt on your smartphone.
- You can request payment in the form of cash via Paypal or Venmo or receive gift cards to a variety of stores. The minimum payment threshold is $20.
Eat out wisely
If you’re going to eat out a restaurant, do it sparingly and take advantage of Groupon and Restaurant.com deals to save as much as 60% on your meals.
2. Stop Paying for Whole Life Insurance
When it comes to money wasters, whole life insurance is one of the worst offenders. It’s really expensive, doesn’t do its job as efficiently as term life insurance, and is generally a really poor investment.
You can get term life insurance for a fraction of the cost of whole life insurance AND increase the payout amount your loved ones will receive if you die.
It may sound expensive – it’s a common myth that life insurance is not affordable – but the truth is that the average adult can purchase a 20-year, $250,000 level term policy for the monthly cost of a large pizza.
When we found out our first child was on the way last year, I purchased additional term life insurance through HealthIQ. They helped me save at least $200 per year on a 20 year level term policy, and the whole process only took a couple of hours of my time.
3. Stop Overpaying for Insurance
I get it. Calling your insurance companies sounds just about as fun as dropping by the dentist for a voluntary root canal. Why would any subject themselves to the pain?
But the honest truth is you’re probably leaving better insurance rates on the table right now.
For example, take car insurance. I have found that the average person has little idea what they’re actually paying for car insurance each year. So start by taking a look at your current policy and analyzing exactly what your policy provides.
Let’s focus on these key areas:
Premium – this is the price you pay for your insurance plan. It may be listed as a monthly, six-month, or 12-month premium.
Deductible – this is the amount you will pay before insurance kicks in when you file a claim.
Bodily injury (per person) – this is the amount your insurance provides for each person who is injured in an accident.
Bodily injury (total) – this is the amount your insurance will cover for bodily injury per accident.
Property damage – this is the amount your insurance will cover for damage to property owned by others (your insurance covers your vehicle through a different provision)
Collision – this is your coverage for vehicle collisions with other vehicles or objects.
Comprehensive – this coverage basically covers a wide range of possible damage to your vehicle (hail, wind, water, fire, etc.)
Paying close attention to these key areas of your car insurance can potentially save you a boat load of money.
How? Knowing what you pay is half the battle, but it also equips you to seek lower premiums by comparing prices on equal plans from different carriers.
Where to start
We recommend starting the negotiations by calling your current provider. Be polite, courteous, and firm and state the simple reason for your call: you’re looking to reduce your current car insurance premiums.
Here are a few other tips to help you significantly reduce your premiums:
- Increase your deductible from $500 to $1,000. (Warning: only do this if you have saved at least $1,000 in your emergency fund to cover this cost!)
- Ask about multi-line discounts for moving your renters/homeowners insurance to the same company.
- Ask for a renewal discount.
- If you can afford it, ask for a discount for prepaying your policy for an entire year.
- Ask about removing small provisions in your policy, such as roadside assistance, especially if your credit card company already offers this.
- Ask about discounts based upon your occupation status and employer. These are rare, but it’s worth asking!
Case in point: I was recently in an accident, which caused my rates to change. By picking up the phone and negotiating, I was able to get my rates reduced significantly – and I even added a modest umbrella policy to further protect our family from liability!
If your current provider won’t work with you, you can always grab a quote from Esurance. They offer homeowners, multi-car, and good student discounts.
4. Stop Overpaying for Cable and Internet
The good news is that your cable and internet rates, just like car insurance, are 100% negotiable.
Yes, it may be harder to get a good deal than it was a few years ago, but you’ve got this.
Our favorite way to save money on our cable bill is a savings assistant service called Trim. A few months back, Trim helped us save money on my cable AND cell phone bills.
In fact, we saved over $700 on TV and internet. And we didn’t do anything.
Chances are high that you’re leaving potential money on the table with your current phone or TV subscription services. Or you may even have a gym membership or car wash plan that you’ve meant to cancel for the last 2 years.
In our opinion, letting Trim do the work of saving you money is a no-brainer, and you’ll find out if the app can save you money in under 1 minute.
5. Force Yourself to Save Money (Even Just a Little)
Answer this honestly: Would you save more money if you didn’t have a choice?
My wife and I aren’t always the most natural savers around, but we get around that unfortunate little detail in a rather simple way: We automate our savings.
For the last two years, our favorite savings tool has been an app called Digit. To date, we’ve saved over $7,000 using Digit.
How does Digit work?
Digit is a streamlined app that uses military-grade encryption (i.e., it’s very secure) to link to your checking account. It analyzes your spending habits, and once it has a grip on your cash flow, it begins making small periodic transfers from your checking account to your personal Digit savings account.
You can access your money at any time by making simple transfers back to your checking account, and your money is 100% FDIC insured. Personally, we love that our money is still close but just far enough away that we won’t spend it.
Pro tip: We keep a portion of our emergency fund in our Digit savings account. You can also use your account to save for a new car, a wedding, house down payment, or a vacation.
Bottom Line: Saving Money Can Be Easy
If you’re ready to stop the madness and looking for a helpful, easy way to ensure that you save the money you are no longer wasting, check out our favorite resources.
CIT High Yield Savings: Looking for a great place to park your hard-earned savings and earn more than a paltry .05% interest return? CIT Bank offers 1.55% on their High Yield Savings Accounts and only requires a $100 minimum opening balance! This crushes most other savings accounts by 10-12x!
Acorns: I have been using Acorns as an experiment in micro-investing for several months and watched my account balance steadily grow. If you feel like you don’t have enough money to invest, Acorns is for you!
You can start with very small deposits and work your way up over time, if you choose. And if you sign-up using our link, you'll start off with $5.00 in your account automatically!
What are the main ways you need to stop wasting money? How have you wasted money in the past?
Emily @ JohnJaneDoe saysJanuary 3, 2017 at 3:39 PM
Yesterday I picked up the newspaper at my inlaws’ house and took it in for them. There was nothing to it…maybe 30 pages and Raleigh is not a small town. I really don’t think there’s much to newspaper subscriptions anymore. (The FB feed comment had me snorting coffee through my nose, thanks for that!)
Hero saysJanuary 3, 2017 at 4:23 PM
It really is pitiful, isn’t it? My dad used to read the newspaper cover to cover when I was kid, but he cancelled his subscription a while ago in disgust.
Martin - Get FIRE'd asap saysJanuary 3, 2017 at 3:46 PM
Happy new year to you FSH and best wishes for 2017. Great NY resolutions for reducing the spend by a few more dollars every week. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say every bit counts. If you want to find out how much you’ll be saving as a result of cutting back on those store-bought coffees, newspapers, and lotto tickets that never win, Google the ‘latte calculator’. It’ll tell you how much all of those small expences could be worth if invested instead of spent, over 10 years. Pretty mindblowing actually.
As for the nice coffee, we splashed out on a Nespresso machine (at clearance sale pricing of course) and now a cup of great coffee costs us 0.75c a cup instead of 3 to 4 bucks. I know you can make it even cheaper in a plunger but we reckon 75c is pretty good value.
Hero saysJanuary 3, 2017 at 4:25 PM
I have seen the “latte calculator” – simply mind-blowing. My wife received a Keurig as a Christmas gift. I’m not all that excited about it, but it will keep her away from Dunkin and Starbucks a bit more. 🙂
[email protected] saysJanuary 3, 2017 at 5:45 PM
One tip for the Keurig Hero – get one of the reusable “cups” to put the coffee grounds in so you don’t have to buy the little plastic ones. Both my kids have Keurigs and love them – but they buy bulk ground coffee and reuse a little plastic cup rather than buying the throw away ones 😉
Hero saysJanuary 5, 2017 at 8:03 AM
Thanks for the tip, Vicki. I didn’t know this was possible!
Apathy Ends saysJanuary 3, 2017 at 5:26 PM
Yes! I passed for the most part! If you count fantasy football under betting I might be cheating. Has worked out well over the last 5 years though.
Unused subscriptions confuse the hell out of me. The guy sitting next to me at work paid 900/year for 2 years for a bus pass……and drove every day!
Hero saysJanuary 4, 2017 at 8:00 AM
Fantasy football has to count as recreation, right? 🙂
FinanciaLibre saysJanuary 3, 2017 at 9:54 PM
Home-brewed coffee’s the best, anyway. Ours comes courtesy of a $10 French Press using the cheapest possible grounds from Costco, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I’d be lost without my WSJ subscription!
What’s this Facebook News thing everybody’s talking about? I thought that was fake.
Thanks for the laugh, Hero!
Hero saysJanuary 4, 2017 at 8:04 AM
I haven’t tried to navigate the intricacies of the French Press, FL, but I may have to try. I’ve started drinking my coffee 100% black for the past several weeks, and a new twist might be fun.
When I was a bachelor, I spent a dizzying monthly sum on coffee at Starbucks. When the baristas started to remember my name, I suspected I had a problem, which my bank statement quickly confirmed. That money is being put to much better use these days, fortunately.
Mrs. Groovy saysJanuary 4, 2017 at 7:08 PM
Love your tips and like you, I hate paying shipping fees. Some stores will ship to you for free if you order online merchandise when at the store (Pier 1, Bed Bath Beyond and Kohls are three I know of).
Try brewing coffee with an Aeropress. It’s like a French press without the mess. I used it for a long time until I began scalding myself doing the upside down method. Mr. Groovy wants me to get a Kuerig but I’m too cheap to use K-cups.
Hero saysJanuary 5, 2017 at 7:51 AM
Great tip on the free shipping at Kohl’s, Mrs. Groovy; I had no idea!
I haven’t heard of an Aeropress, but a bit of research has me intrigued. I think I have an item on my birthday wish list already!
Mystery Money Man saysJanuary 5, 2017 at 12:50 AM
I agree with Financial Libre, a french press is the only way to go! Great post, FS, I’m actually doing ok with these ones. I agree with AE on the Fantasy Football, fortunate that my winnings in one league covered my losses in the other this year. 🙂
Hero saysJanuary 5, 2017 at 7:54 AM
Mystery Money Man’s vote seals the deal – I need to get a french press. 🙂
Anytime you have a hobby, like fantasy football, which ends up remaining cost neutral, I think you’re doing pretty well. If only I could find a way to get paid for running, playing basketball, and watching sports. . .
Skrybspryt saysJune 26, 2017 at 12:39 AM
There are apps that give you credit/donate to charity for steps taken each day. Walgreens Rewards is one off the top of my head.
Hero saysJune 27, 2017 at 10:34 AM
Thanks for sharing this tip! This is a great way to give back.