The best ways to stop wasting money

There are 16 million people in the UK with less than £100 in savings according to the Money Advice Service. If you count yourself among those living paycheck to paycheck, or simply struggling to save more for your future (always a good goal) you can probably go a long way by wasting less money on unnecessary things.

We previously covered the best way to stop spending money. Allow us to now explore how to stop wasting money. It’s a subtle but important shift in the conversation. It narrows in on spending less money on the things that are unnecessary, and add no value to your life. It’s about looking back on your spending and wondering where it all went and why.

If you want your money to go towards more valuable things, experiences and investments, here are some of the best ways to stop wasting money.

Assess the issue

First thing first. Become more conscious about where your money is going. Start by analysing where you are currently spending and why. Money Dashboard can help you do this for free by categorising and charting your spending habits. Your spending often reflects your priorities. So take a moment to analyse your spending against your personal hierarchy of needs and wants. If you think too much money is being funnelled into non-priority areas, make a budget and plan to cut down spending in those areas.  

Make your money harder to access

If you have less money on hand, you naturally become a bit more thoughtful about where it goes. So leave your credit cards at home—you spend more when you have easy access to them. And divert money from your current account into a savings account or investment fund as soon as you are paid, effectively reducing your disposable income for “stuff”.

Really wanting something is not a good excuse

Need is not always a want. Want is not always a need. Take a moment to really think about the importance of each item before you buy it, and be a bit more critical about any justifications you normally give yourself. Will you really value this purchase at the end of the month? Or even at the end of the day? It is especially important to keep this in mind during a sale, when a low price tag starts making you think a “want” has become a “need”. Ask yourself, has it really? This is not to say you need to eliminate fun and festivities from your life, but a moment’s thought helps cut back on waste and meet any budget goals.

I’m paying for what?!

When reviewing your spending on Money Dashboard, you may be surprised by all of the little fees that add up. Chances are, many could be avoided with a little more effort and preparation upfront. So create a little list for yourself of fees and little expenses you can address. For example, are you visiting the ATM a lot and getting hit with big fees? Switching credit or debit cards to one without ATM fees or other small penalties can save a lot of wasted money over time.

Shop smarter

Get the same value for less money whenever possible. If you’re buying a new item, especially bigger purchases like a refrigerator, a microwave, a new sofa or a bike, whatever it is, look online at competitor prices. Most shops will match a competitor if you can prove they’re being outsold, saving you hundreds.

And when it comes to food, you may be very sensitive about where you buy your fresh fruits and vegetables and loaves of bread. But look, then it comes to factory-packaged goods like a bag of Oreos, a can of Campbell’s soup and a jar of  --insert your favourite brand of peanut butter here--, it tastes the same wherever it comes from. And your name-brand cleaning sprays work just as well, too. There’s no need to spend extra for it at the posh shop. You can save loads by checking for your products in discount stores first.

Stop wasting food

Stop wasting your money by not wasting food. Cook your meals. Use the food you have, and get creative with that’s left. And for goodness sake, use your freezer to make it all last. Bread, cheese, meats, and most desserts can all be frozen for later.

Words from Warren Buffet to live by

“The best way to stop wasting money is to stop spending it” is one of the best stop wasting money quotes, said by the great frugal billionaire investor Warren Buffet. Use it as a mantra.

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