Improving your financial habits to save more money may seem pretty straight-forward: You already know that it’s smart to routinely set aside money from your paycheck, and that it’s not wise to go on shopping sprees that will drive you into debt.
But what about all the “little” ways in which you might be spending cash unnecessarily and wasting your hard-earned money?
Perhaps you’ve been so focused on the “major” things that you’ve forgotten about the smaller, day-to-day ways in which your money is going out the door – or in some cases, literally, down the drain.
To keep more cash in your bank account, stop wasting money on the following 10 items, regardless of how tempting they may seem.
1. Fabric softener
Fabric softeners can run $3 to $7 or more, depending on which part of the country you live. But try doing some loads of laundry without it and see if you really miss it.
If you desperately need that fragrant scent, you can always go ahead and buy it later. But meantime, you might just discover that your clothes are fresh and clean without the added boost of a fabric softener.
2. Paper towels
You can use cotton rags or re-usable cloths for spills and to clean your countertops and tables. Paper towels are just a convenience – and an expensive one at that.
Think about it this way: Do they use paper towels to clean up in restaurants? Of course not, because it would cost them a small fortune. Think the same way and save yourself money year-round by passing on those paper towels.
3. Fancy household cleaners
Consider all the fancy household cleaners you might be buying: foaming bleach cleansers; special toilet bowl aides; or maybe high-priced furniture-cleaning solutions.
Most things in your home or apartment can be cleaned very well with a simple soap and water mix, or a touch of vinegar or ammonia added to the mix.
I like a sparkling, fresh-smelling bath or kitchen just as much as the next person. But you also need to make sure you’re not getting sucked into buying cleaning products just because they have a good marketing pitch. If you have new items, like leather sofas or freshly installed granite countertops, just read the care label first so you don’t damage them in any way.
4. Designer name clothes
If you’re addicted to buying clothes simply because of the designer label or brand name attached to them, you’re definitely overspending.
Pay attention to quality, function, utility and value and I guarantee you’ll save money – whether you buying clothes other items.
5. Extended warranties on electronic gadgets
Retailers typically try to sell you extended warranty protection when you are buying electronic gadgets, computers, home appliances and even toys. Do your homework before you shop.
You may already have an adequate enough warranty from the manufacturer and the credit card that you choose to use may already give you an extended warranty. Consumer Reports weighed in with their opinion of extended warranty coverage in this article.
6. Live Christmas trees
Maybe it’s been a long family tradition to buy live trees each year and a whole host or ornaments. That might have been fine a decade or even a generation ago, but can you really afford that now – year after year?
Your kids will be fine and you will still enjoy Christmas if you buy an artificial tree. After the holidays, just put it away in a box or store it in your attic or basement. Then re-use the tree and this year’s ornaments again next year. Ditto for things like live holiday wreaths. Just say no.
7. Fancy overpriced grills
Do your steaks taste any better on that $1,000 grill or that $150 hibachi? Think before you go out and buy a lavish, over-the-top grill monster.
Again, can you really afford it? And do you even really need it?
8. The latest new cell phone
Do I really need to say that it’s probably a bad financial decision if you find yourself regularly standing in hour-long lines at the cell phone store, trying to get your service re-connected as you peruse the latest, greatest model of the “best next-generation” phone?
You should just mail in your payments and forego the additional sales pressure to upgrade. Staying out of that cell phone store will also help you avoid unnecessary temptations to buy yet another cell phone.
9. Unnecessary bulk items from wholesale clubs
Very few of us really need six, 64-ounce bottles of ketchup or five-dozen lemons in a case. OK, if you have a family of eight or ten, maybe all those condiments might actually get used – over the next year or so.
But if you’re single, or you and a partner don’t have kids, or even if you just have a small family, don’t keep buying in bulk if you find that food is constantly spoiling or going well past its expiration date or shelf life. That’s just money wasted that could be saved.
10. High octane gasoline if your engine does not need it
Gas is already expensive enough. So stop putting in high-octane gas in your vehicle unless the car’s manual specifically advises you to do so.
Besides, if you’re driving a Lamborghini (or something like it), you’re probably not too concerned about the price of gas and you probably wouldn’t be reading this article either, right?
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance expert and co-founder of the free financial advice site, AskTheMoneyCoach.com. Follow Lynnette on Twitter @themoneycoach and Google Plus.