10 mindless ways you’re wasting money

Money burning a hole in your pocket?

As a mortgage broker and adviser, a key part of my job is to save my clients every dollar I can through ensuring they have the most competitive loan products available. However, there are some things I can’t help them with, and that’s everything else that they spend their money on.

Most of us despise budgeting, but you’d be surprised just how much you unconsciously spend when you don’t keep track of your outgoing dollars each month. Here are 10 ways you’re blowing it without knowing it – from a recent article authored by Lauren Leisk appearing on Yahoo7 Moneyhound:

  1. The coffee shop– $100 a month
    It’s not uncommon to pay $4.50 for a soy chai latte these days. With many of us dropping in for a caffeine pick-me-up after the morning school drop off and before we hit the office, we can quickly burn through $100 a month without realizing. Sound familiar? Try to break the habit by making an instant coffee at home or at work, or try to give it the flick for a while. It will be better for your health and your wealth in the long run.
  1. Bottled drinks– $100 a month
    How often do you forget your water bottle when you’re running between meetings, or just feel like a quick bubbly drink pick-me-up? Some individuals can clock over $100 on bought soft drinks, juices and bottled water in just one month, quite a staggering figure if you’re also having your cuppa at the café each day too. What’s wrong with tap water? It’s free. Refill a drink bottle with tap water when you’re thirsty and leave them everywhere, at your desk, in the car, beside your bed and in your handbag. Old habits die hard but but if you’re committed to saving money then you’ll need to change your ways.
  1. Electricity– $100 a month
    Heard the rant about wasting energy leaving appliances plugged in, overusing the heater in winter or the air-con in summer? Well aside from wasting energy, you’re wasting dollars, with clothes dryers being one of the biggest dollar guzzlers of the lot. Use a drying rack for clothes, don’t fill the kettle for just one cup of tea, have faster showers and put a jumper on instead of a heater. It’s good for your pocket but also good for the planet. When is the last time you shopped around for a cheaper energy supplier? There could be more than one that services your post code and it won’t cost you anything to switch. 
  1. ATM fees– $15 a month
    You’re at the local bakery, forget they’re cash only but conveniently they have one of those portable ATMs tucked in the corner just waiting for you to pull out a casual $20. You do, it costs you an extra $2.50, and then you repeat the situation again at the petrol station. Those pesky little fees can add up to $15 month which is $180 a year. Think ahead and withdraw what you think you might spend over a few weeks in cash from your bank’s ATM, kissing those hefty fees goodbye. Having cash in your pocket also helps you keep a better eye on how much money is sneaking out of your wallet on those small, but consistent, purchases. 
  1. Throwing out food– $75 a month
    Fresh fruit and veggies aren’t cheap. So have a think about how often you end up throwing out over ripe avocados and squishy tomatoes and how much that is costing you. If you know you’re not going to eat at home from Friday night until Monday morning then dedicate Thursday nights to using up what’s in your fridge and freezing it for later. That means you won’t have to get take out when there’s no food in the fridge leading to further savings.
  1. Unused gym membership– $80 a month
    Unless you’re visiting the gym at least twice a week, chances are you’re not getting value for money out of your monthly membership fee. You’ll probably find that paying the casual rate when you actually go to the gym will work out cheaper in the end. Better yet, why not just go outside and run up a few hills? Some people keep paying their gym membership thinking it will incentivise them to go to a class, but in reality it’s just a waste of money.
  1. Credit card interest– $60 a month
    Many of us simply glide through life paying the bare minimum repayments on our credit cards, racking up a huge side-debt in interest. When you got your credit card statement after all the recent Christmas spending you did, if you only paid the bare minimum amount then you might not realise your Christmas shopping just cost you about 20% p.a. more than you bargained for. Carrying credit card debt instead of paying it off each month – in full – is a fools way of ending up in a perpetual debt spiral crisis. Make a plan to pay them off or cut them up if you can’t help yourself. If you are already in crisis mode then consider transferring all the debt to new account offering 0% p.a. interest for up to 12 months and pay off the debt slowly and surely, and get yourself out of trouble before it’s too late.
  1. The cinema & the candy bar– $20 a month
    Sure we all enjoy a night at the flicks sometimes, but with ticket prices at an all-time high if you add on candy bar expenses, like $5 on a frozen Coke and $7 on a bucket of popcorn, for the whole family, you’re night out is going to blow the budget. Stock up at grocery store en route to the cinema or take some snacks from home, and you’ll be able to count the change from your night out.
  1. Smoking– $60 a month
    Haven’t quite quit the habit? With the New Year upon us now’s the time to kick the cigarette and save. If you consider the average price of a pack of cigarettes is around $18, you’re looking at a whopping $6500 per year on a pack-a-day habit. That’s a round-the-world ticket, a luxury cruise, two months of mortgage repayments or a couple of credit cards paid off. There are also other financial benefits like cheaper health insurance, cheaper life & income protection insurance, and a longer life with less health problems!
  1. Dining out– $150 a month
    We all love eating out, but is it something you can really afford four nights a week? Brush up your home cooking skills and invite your friends over for a pot-luck dinner party once a week, then rotate who hosts the dinner so you can all still enjoy “going out” but at a fraction of the cost.

How much could you consciously save? Check out my 2 minute Youtube clip ‘Budgeting your money’ for some further tips on how to go about budgeting your money.


Cairns Mortgage Broker – Jason Thomson is a Mortgage Adviser and Finance Broker based in Cairns with clients all around Australia. Client reviews featured on his website prove that Jason is a trusted industry professional, facilitating great outcomes for his clients. Using his wealth of experience in financial services, he thrives on delivering superior service. Jason is very approachable and is always looking for new clients to help in the often confusing world of finance and property. Offering a no fee service, you’ve got nothing to lose by having an obligation free chat with Jason today.