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With a pinch of patience and a dash of extra effort, you can stop throwing so much money down the drain, and potentially increase your savings. The trick is to be conscious of what hand how much you are spending. Here are ten things that could be potential money wasters for you:

  1. Monthly Subscriptions or Memberships You Aren’t Using
    Do you have magazines coming in each month that are going unread or straight into the trash bin? Do you have a monthly gym membership being debited from your account that you are not using? With the ease of automatic debit these days, it is easy to sign up for subscriptions and then forget about them. It may be time to do a review of what to keep and what to cancel. If it’s something you really enjoy but the cost is hurting you, consider shopping around for a better option elsewhere.

  2. Tossing Leftovers
    As a whole, our society has a tendency to waste food. Whether it’s leftovers from dinner last night or tonight’s evening out, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that 40% of the food in the U.S. is never eaten, and the “average household of four is throwing away $120 each month in the form of uneaten food.” The NRDC has a wealth of information on how you can conserve food and other resources for the benefit of not only your savings, but the economy and society as well.

  3. Heating and Cooling Costs
    According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for around half of energy costs in atypical U.S. home. They also show that you can potentially save as much as 10% each year by adjusting your thermostat back 7-10 degrees for 8 hours each day from its normal setting. To see the math and other ways to save by adjusting your thermostat, check out Energy Hub.

  4. Eating Out Too Often
    Eating out is the fun and easy option, and it adds up. Let’s do a little self-check:

    • First, jot down how much you think you spend on eating out.
    • Next, pull out your receipts for the last month or log into your account and check the history. Add up the actual cost of eating out for the last month.
    • How much was the difference? If your figure was close, it means you are doing a pretty good job of being aware of where your money is going. If it was off, then it’s time to re-evaluate your spending!
    Next, take the amount you actually spent for one month and multiply that by 12. This is how much you likely spending in a year to eat out. Adding up the cost over time can be a real eye-opener and a good motivator for cutting back. Consider cooking at home more. It takes as much time as going out, it’s healthier, and it’ll save you more.

  5. Vending Machines and Convenience Stores

  6. The same principal can be applied here. How often do you visit the snack or drink machine at work? Do you tend to stop by the convenience store for a quick snack or beverage instead of waiting until you get home?

    Adding up your annual cost in this category can be eye-opening as well. Consider buying in bulk or from the grocery store and keeping a store of snacks and drinks at work to curb the temptation to hit the vending machine.

  7. Leaving Retirement Match on the Table

  8. This can be a huge money waster. If your employer offers a retirement plan, you need to be in it. Also, if your employer offers a match program and you are not participating, you are leaving money on the table if you are not in it. What’s more, with a traditional 401(k), your contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, which means your money goes into your retirement before it gets taxed. (Consult a tax advisor for advice and more details.)

  9. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, has an excellent way of putting it: when you participate in a retirement match program with your employer, “it's a no-cost way for you to increase your contributions by 100 percent.” For more on the benefits of a retirement program, check out FINRA’s example here.

  10. Cable, Internet and Phone

  11. Savings can be found in bundling these items together, but deals can also be found for individual services. It’s a good idea to regular check in on these expenses every six months to one year:
    • Check your bill for “rate creep.” By watching for bill increases and contacting your provider, you can often find savings by switching plans or simply asking the question, “How can I save on my bill?”
    • Shop around for current rates, discounts, and promotions.
    • If you’re not using most of what you’re paying for in cable, consider streaming or other services that can cost less per month and deliver the options you want.


    With a little time and research, you can potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. What are some things you do to stop wasting money? Email your tips to ascend@mymax.com and you could be featured in an upcoming post!