What Are The Money Waster's You Hate?

David Trammel's picture

Richard Quinn over on MarketWatch.com posted his view on how we waste money.

Opinion: These 16 money wasters are why so many Americans can’t save for retirement

He makes a good point, spending more than you can afford is a sure way to be poor.

What ways do people waste money get you shaking your head? For me its storage lockers. Spending a hundred dollars or more a month, just so someone else can store the stuff you have but aren't going to use, seems like a huge waste of money.

lathechuck's picture

I drink water, filtered from the tap, and very little else. It's practically free, yet I see people with shopping carts loaded with colored and sweetened water, water with botanical infusions (coffee, tea, beer, wine), and water with dissolved CO2 (where do you suppose it goes when it's done tingling your tongue? Hint: it's the same CO2 that comes out of a coal-fired power plant). They pay for the bottle, for the truck that carries the bottle to the store, for the fuel for the truck, for the electricity that refrigerates (which keeps some of the products from spoiling, and just helps the others sell faster). Then the sugar rots their teeth, adds pounds to their frames, and (if they keep drinking enough of it) brings on diabetes. That's when it REALLY gets expensive!

lathechuck's picture

Almost any car on the market will get you and your stuff (as much as you need) from point A to point B. So, why is the price range for cars so wide? What does a $170,000 (MSRP) 2019 Mercedes Benz AMG do that a $15,000 (MSRP) 2019 Chevy Spark LS does not? And when does a suburban commuter need to drive a $25,000 pickup truck? Almost all of the non-commercial vehicles I see on the highway are carrying only the driver: no back-seat passengers, no visible cargo in the bed.

Of course, what the expensive vehicles do is "signify status", identifying the driver as either someone with enough wealth, or enough credit, to take possession of the vehicle. As one driver of an expensive foreign sports car told me "it's important to show that you have good taste." Ummm. Right. If you say so. My perspective is that "it's important to show that you're friendly and frugal, and not about to go ballistic if your kid bumps my car while getting out of your car."

We've got a good list going, so I won't repeat the above.

- Medical bills: Having lived outside of the US for so long, it's sad to me to see how the private insurance industry is allowed to arbitrarily make up prices, and still manage to brainwash Americans into thinking they have the best healthcare system in the world. By extension, people can save money in the long run by taking preventative measures like a good diet and exercise. Another reverse culture shock for me is that pharmaceutical companies in the US are allowed to air commercials for drugs.

- Kitchen tools/ appliances: Have you ever had to go through someone else's stuff? So many Americans have juicers, waffle irons, melon ballers, crock pots, etc. sitting in the back of closets which they haven't used in years. To me these items best represent the proto-hoarder "it could be useful one day" mentality.

- Entertainment: Some options are thriftier than others. A Netflix subscription or the occasional live concert won't break the bank. But I get sticker shock when I see the cost of cable/satellite subscriptions. Earlier this year I cleared out the stuff I'd left at my parents' house. I'm kind of amazed how many DVDs and CDs I bought back in pre-streaming days. I'm still amazed by how much people spend on cutting-edge gaming PCs which rapidly become outdated.

- Weddings and Funerals: Major life events do deserve some extra spending, but the wedding and funeral industries are run through with price gouging. I'm going to plug the Funeral Consumer's Alliance: https://funerals.org/ Plan now while you and your loved ones are still alive, don't get fleeced once you/ they are still coming to terms with the loss.

- Name brands: Perhaps there was a time when brands denoted high-quality manufacture, and in some cases they still do, but mostly they're just for show. I recently bought a pair of Ralph Lauren pants (on sale) for work and not even a month later the seam at the bottom of one of the legs had come out!

- Time-shares: 'nuff said

- Sales gimmicks: So many marketing firms have made bank by tricking consumers into thinking they're getting a good deal when they're not. The aforementioned pants were part of a "X% off" sale in which a large portion of X was actually in the forms of a store gift card and a coupon.

I’d include using lawnmowers for anything less than really large lawns or golf courses.