I definitely do my share of “throwing away” money every now and again. Just the other day my best friend and I went shopping. I ended up buying a new sweater that I didn’t need and that I wasn’t 100% in love with. That was $20 I would really like back now! However, experts say there are many bigger expense categories that are more dangerous to our wallets and savings goals. Here is a list of spending categories to avoid, so you can stop throwing away money in 2015!
1. ATM fees
According to Bankrate, we spend more than $7 billion on ATM fees each year. The average going rate for a non-network ATM is just under $4 per transaction.
- How much you’re throwing away: If you visit an ATM outside your bank network just once per week, you will throw away $208 in ATM fees over the next year.
2. Lottery tickets
I’m guilty of buying a lottery ticket every now and then, but some of us make it a regular part of our week (or even our day). According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL), Americans spent nearly $69 billion in lottery tickets in 2013.
- How much you’re throwing away: The 2013 U.S. Census tells us that there are just over 316 million people. This means, if every citizen equally participated in the lottery, each of us would spend about $218 per year on lottery tickets.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that Americans spend an average of $44 billion dollars on tobacco each year (this includes cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, pipes, and chewing tobacco). Depending on income, addicted adults can spend between 2% and 25% of their take-home pay on nicotine annually.
- How much you’re throwing away: Depending on what brand you smoke and where you live, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes today is $5.51. If you smoke just one pack per week, you’ll throw away about $287 over the next year.
4. Credit card interest fees
While statistics vary here, the Federal Reserve, TransUnion, and CreditCards.com all agree that the average household owes around $5,500 worth of credit card debt.
- How much you’re throwing away: Using this APR calculator, and assuming an average APR of 12.75 percent, you will throw away an extra $387 in interest fees over the next year.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that Americans waste about $165 billion (40%) in food each year. This works out to around $529 per person. The NRDC says this equates to throwing away every other piece of food you buy.
- How much you’re throwing away: Gallup says we spend about $151 per week on food, or $7,852 per year. By throwing away food, you may be wasting up to half that amount, or $3,926, annually.
USA Today reports that approximately $1 of every $100 we make (or 1% of our annual income) is spent on alcohol. Wow!
- How much you’re throwing away: The latest U.S. Census indicates the average American household income is $51,759. One percent of that amount is $517.59—which is the amount you may be throwing away annually on alcohol.
This is my least favorite statistic out of this entire list—because I love my Starbucks! But the truth is, a recent Accounting Principles survey shows the average American spends $1,092 annually (or around $5 per day for 218 out of 262 work days per year) on take-out coffee.
- How much you’re throwing away: Daily Finance calculates that you will spend about $62 per year (for 365 days of 6 oz. cups) to brew your own coffee at home. This means you may be throwing away as much as $1,030 on take-out coffee.
Time reports that the average household spends around $850 annually on soft drinks (this works out to $65 billion in the U.S. annually).
- How much you’re throwing away: So long as you are not substituting pricey bottled water for your sodas, drinking water costs just one penny per gallon (for more see Drink Water First). By switching from soda to water, you avoid throwing away nearly $850 on soft drinks over the next year!
9. "Great deals"
While there is no way to directly quantify how much the average adult may spend per year on "great deals," financial expert Dave Ramsey highlights "deals" as one of the top 10 money wasters.
- How much you’re throwing away: Only you know the answer to this question, but it is worth working out. How much money do you throw away (impulsively spend) each year on "great deals"—even just because you have a great savings coupon and want to use it?