Are You Guilty of These 10 Money-Wasting Moves? Here’s How to Stop

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Who doesn’t waste money? We all pay too much at times because we want something right now.

And on occasion, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we buy things we don’t really need.

Sometimes, though, we aren’t completely aware of all the ways we’re throwing away money.

Here are some common ways people waste money, and what you can do instead.

1. Spending Hundreds on Your Cell Phone Bill

A smart phone with a cracked screen lies on the floor in front of a pair of orange sneakers
Manuel-F-O/Getty Images

Your phone buzzes. It’s your cell phone provider, which might text you more often than some of your friends.

“90% of your data plan has been used,” it kindly informs you. “We’ll add 1GB of shared data to your plan for $15.”

How nice. Just go ahead and add that to my already-enormous cell phone bill.

If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier Twigby.

That’s what Zak Wilson did. He’d been paying Verizon Wireless about $180 a month for two lines. So he tried Twigby. For both phones, he’s now paying $60 a month.

Plus, new customers get 25% off the first 6 months of service.

2. Throwing Away Those Crumpled Receipts Instead of Turning Them Into Free Gift Cards

What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper, and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.

But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Chipotle and dozens of other retailers.

And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.

When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points when you share your first receipt — you’ll be well on your way to your first gift card.

Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?

3. Giving Your Car Insurance Company Extra Money

View from back seat of a man driving a car.
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If you really want to get the best price on car insurance, experts say you should be shopping twice a year.

OK, we can hear you laughing from here. Who has time to do all that?

But seriously, insurance companies take a lot of factors into consideration, and they change all the time. Ipso facto — you’re paying too much.

Thankfully, a free website called The Zebra will do the shopping for you — in just two minutes.

All you have to do is enter basic information about your car and driving history, then The Zebra compares prices from more than 100 companies to find you the best price.

The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.

If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.

Who’s laughing now?

4. Paying Too Much Credit Card Interest

Two hands reaching out to each other.
Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

Your credit card company is probably ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out. A website called Credible knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: Credible will match you with a loan that’ll cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

Credible won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

Now you can finally stop holding a grudge against that friend who thought a Mexico wedding was a good idea.

5. Throwing Away Your Junk Mail

If you’ve ever wondered what you could do with all of that junk mail besides recycling it or sending it to your email’s trash folder, SBK Center has the answer.

This market research company will happily accept your junk mail and email and, in return, give you Visa prepaid cards, which work just like debit cards.

(You can also earn bonus points with SBK Center if you are self-employed or own your own business.)

6. Watching Videos Online- and Not Getting Paid For It

If we told you that you could get paid to watch videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.

It’s too good to be true, right?

But we’re serious. A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.

InboxDollars won’t cover your full rent, but it’s an easy way to bank a little extra while you’re already on the couch tonight wasting time on your phone.

Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards — so you can put the money directly toward rent. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonusto get you started. You can cash out once you hit $30.

7. Overspending By Not Keeping Your Spending Top of Mind

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

It’s easy to let a sandwich here and a song download there go unnoticed. If seeing your checking account statement each month is a horror story of forgotten debit card charges, we found the app that refuses to let you neglect your finances.

Chime is an online-only bank account that offers some unique features other banks haven’t caught on to yet. Its banking app sends you instant transaction alerts that tell you how much you just spent and your new balance. 

No need to log in just to see where your account stands. App notifications let you know with every swipe of the card or automatic withdrawal. 

Plus, Chime doesn’t charge overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees or minimum balance fees. Its mobile app boasts more than 2,000 five-star reviews, making managing money super accessible via iPhone or Android. 

Opening an account is free and only takes about five minutes.

8. Thinking That You Can’t Afford to Put Some Money in Savings

We could all use some more money in our savings account, right? How about an extra $1,857? Yeah, right, you’re saying. Where am I supposed to get that kind of money?

You might already have it.

Yep. An app called Digit finds money you didn’t even know you had — and automatically tucks it away into your savings.

Using Digit, personal finance editor Matt Wiley was able to save $1,857 in a year without even thinking about it.

“It feels weird saying I saved, because I really didn’t do anything,” he says.

Digit takes a look at your spending patterns and tells you exactly how much you can afford to put away. It knows when to save and when to slow down so your funds don’t get too low. Have rent due soon? It’ll go easy on you. Just got paid? Sweet, let’s tuck some of that away.

To start, download Digit and connect your checking account. From there, it’ll get to work. Your first 30 days are free, then it’s $5 a month. Not bad, considering how much it’ll help you save.

Now all you have to do is sit back, relax and watch that savings account grow.

9. Assuming Your Default Energy Provider is Your Only Option

A man and woman sit on a bedroom floor together as they look over paperwork.
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Eric Hanson wanted a cleaner energy source, but didn’t have the option in his Maine home — and didn’t want to install pricy solar panels.

So he went with renewable energy company Arcadia Power, which helps you offset your monthly energy consumption with 100% renewable sources.

“On a fundamental level, the power that I use in my house is coming from renewable sources,” Hanson says. “By providing financial support for renewable energy sites, I can disrupt the market. I’m willing to support green growth.”

And, because you’re such a good person, the company will throw in a free $20 Amazon gift card.

You can sign up to qualify for your free gift card in about two minutes.

10. Deleting Your Smartphone Photos

A hand is shown holding a smart phone and taking a photo of a breakfast dish.
Alexandra Iakovleva/Getty Images

If you have a smartphone and a photographic eye, making money may have just gotten a lot easier. Oh – you’ll also need access to marketable scenery.

An app called Foap lets you turn your smartphone photos into cash.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download the free app and create an account.
  2. Take a quality photo and upload it to Foap’s marketplace.
  3. Someone buys the license to your photo for $10. You make $5.

If your photo sells 20 times, you make $5 each time and end up with $100 in your pocket — all for about five minutes of work. Pretty cool, right?

 Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He tries — tries — not to waste money.