Are You Guilty of These 10 Money-Wasting Moves? Here’s How to Stop

Money spread on the ground
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder
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Who doesn’t waste money? We all pay too much at times because we want something right now.

And on occasion, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we buy things we don’t really need.

Sometimes, though, we aren’t completely aware of all the ways we’re throwing away money.

Here are some common ways people waste money, and what you can do instead.

1. Doing Your Chores During Peak Hours

Light Switches turned off and on
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Some energy providers or city utility companies offer their own rewards programs for cutting down energy use at peak times.

For example, Florida Power & Light offers a time of use rate. When customers enroll in the program and operate outside of peak times (think: doing laundry at 11 a.m. instead of 6 p.m.), they’ll get discount rates on electricity.

2. Playing Games for Free

Many of you already know about InboxDollars, the site where you can earn cash for completing daily surveys and for watching online videos. Now you can play games from the site’s dashboard — and you can earn money for doing it.

InboxDollars will pay you to play free arcade games, word search, pool, chess, sudoku and card games. And it’s partnering with GSN Games, which is run by the Game Show Network, to help you earn even more cash back.

You’ll get access to hundreds of GSN casino games, including bingo, poker, solitaire and slots, where you’ll earn 18% cash back in your account on every dollar spent on casino games. You can also earn up to 2% cash back on every dollar spent in cash tournaments.

Bonus: You’ll get $5 just for signing up for a free InboxDollars membership.

3. Paying Too Much for Car Insurance

View from back seat of a man driving a car.
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You’re a good driver. No. Not just a good driver. You are a great driver.

Shouldn’t your policy cost less if you’re less likely to file a claim? We think so — and we found a company that thinks so, too. It’s called Root Insurance.

Here’s how it works:

Step one: Download the Root Insurance app.

Step two: Take a two- to three-week test drive. Everything happens in your smartphone. You don’t need to turn on the app or anything; it just runs in the background and tracks your acceleration, braking and other driving metrics.

After two to three weeks, your test drive is complete, and if you qualify, you’ll get an insurance quote from Root with a recommended policy. And you can customize the coverage to suit your needs. Bottom line: The better you drive, the more you could save.

Root Insurance is available in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

4. Going Shopping Without This App

At this point, tons of grocery-savings apps have hit the market — and we don’t hate it. But having so many options can become overwhelming, especially for the lazy saver.

If that’s you — the one who just wants to get in and out of the store and save money without doing much thinking — there’s an app we recommend. It’s called Fetch Rewards, and all you have to do to earn rewards is take a photo of your receipt.

No scanning barcodes; no searching for offers; no store limitations.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Download the Fetch Rewards app. (Pst: Enter the code PENNY to earn 2,000 free points!)
  2. Create an account with your email address or through Facebook.
  3. Take a photo of your grocery receipt (must be from the past 14 days).

Fetch Rewards finds opportunities for you to earn rewards for your everyday purchases.

Every time you scan a receipt that includes one of more than 250 participating brands, you’ll earn points — without worrying about matching specific product offers.

If the app does find a match, you’ll earn even more. For example, we recently saw an offer of 2,000 points when you purchase a Suave female hair product. And another for 2,000 points for a 12-pack of Blue Moon.

Once you collect enough points, cash out for a gift card to any of a number of retailers. For example, 10,000 points will get you a $10 Sephora gift card. Or 3,000 points will get you a $3 Panera Bread card.

Go ahead, and start fetching points toward gift cards by downloading Fetch Rewards.

(And, yeah, we somehow resisted the obvious “Mean Girls” reference. You’re welcome.)

5. Paying Unnecessary Bank Fees

To put it simply, online banking services are easier to use than the traditional banks. They’re cheaper and more accessible.

One of our favorite companies, Aspiration, works on a pay-what-is-fair model. You choose to set a monthly tip up to $20 or as low as $0, and you can change it anytime.

That gives you fee-free access to a Spend and Save account — and its perks. Check these out:

  • Earn 2.00% APY on your savings as long as you squirrel away at least $1 a month.
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on purchases with your debit card.
  • Get reimbursed for any ATM fees (i.e. get money anytime, anywhere you need it without worrying about the exorbitant cost of those pesky machines).

Plus, in an age when we all look on the big banks with a touch of suspicion because of years of scandal and mismanagement, Aspiration has popped up with the simple motto to “Do Well. Do Good.”

The company commits to donating 10% of earnings to charity and makes it easy for account holders to do the same.

That ought to make your heart feel as full as your wallet’s about to be.

If you want to try Aspiration for yourself, you can open an account online with just $10.

6. Paying Full Price for Gas

A gas nozzle is shoved into the tank of a red car.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

If you’re a savvy saver, you probably already use GasBuddy to help you find the cheapest gas station in town. It’s an easy — and free — way to avoid overpaying.

But once you pull up to the pump, here’s something else you can do: Get a discount card from GasBuddy to automatically save 10 cents per gallon on your first purchase (and 5 cents per gallon after that).

The free discount card is tied directly to your checking account. It works at 95% of gas stations throughout the country, so you don’t have to drive around town just to find “your” station. Plus, you don’t have to wait for a rebate — it’s immediate savings.

Simply and securely sign up through GasBuddy. Connect your bank account, enter your address, and GasBuddy will put a card in the mail.

7. Overpaying for Monthly Bills

A man and woman sit on a bedroom floor together as they look over paperwork.
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On the phone with your cell phone or internet provider, trying to haggle a lower monthly bill?

Go ahead and hang up. (We know you’re probably listening to crappy music while sitting on hold, anyway.)

Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees.

After downloading the app, create an account and link your bank account and/or credit cards. Turn on the bill negotiation and outage protection features. Boom. TrueBill is already searching for potential refunds — it might get you a refund even when you didn’t know an outage occurred.

On average, Truebill says it helps customers save more than $700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling necessary subscriptions and getting refunds.

The app will also remind you of all those sneaky subscriptions you’ve signed up for through the years, so you can cancel what you don’t use and reclaim your monthly budget.

Signing up and using the service is free, though there are some paid premium services that are totally optional — but could totally be worth it.

8. Spending Hundreds on Your Cell Phone Bill

A smart phone with a cracked screen lies on the floor in front of a pair of orange sneakers
Manuel-F-O/Getty Images

Your phone buzzes. It’s your cell phone provider, which might text you more often than some of your friends.

“90% of your data plan has been used,” it kindly informs you. “We’ll add 1GB of shared data to your plan for $15.”

How nice. Just go ahead and add that to my already-enormous cell phone bill.

If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier Twigby.

That’s what Zak Wilson did. He’d been paying Verizon Wireless about $180 a month for two lines. So he tried Twigby. For both phones, he’s now paying $60 a month.

Plus, new customers get 25% off the first 6 months of service.

9. Throwing Away Your Junk Mail

If you’ve ever wondered what you could do with all of that junk mail besides recycling it or sending it to your email’s trash folder, SBK Center has the answer.

This market research company will happily accept your junk mail and email and, in return, give you Visa prepaid cards, which work just like debit cards.

(You can also earn bonus points with SBK Center if you are self-employed or own your own business.)

10. Deleting Your Smartphone Photos

A hand is shown holding a smart phone and taking a photo of a breakfast dish.
Alexandra Iakovleva/Getty Images

If you have a smartphone and a photographic eye, making money may have just gotten a lot easier. Oh – you’ll also need access to marketable scenery.

An app called Foap lets you turn your smartphone photos into cash.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download the free app and create an account.
  2. Take a quality photo and upload it to Foap’s marketplace.
  3. Someone buys the license to your photo for $10. You make $5.

If your photo sells 20 times, you make $5 each time and end up with $100 in your pocket — all for about five minutes of work. Pretty cool, right?

 Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He tries — tries — not to waste money.