No matter how savvy you think you are, there’s a good chance you waste little sums of money here and there - and they could be adding up to £360 a year. We’ve some simple rules to help you claw some of that money back.
A new survey suggests one in four UK adults know takeaways are their biggest waste of cash, while one in five also regret not taking a packed lunch to work or paying for TV channels they hardly watch.
Other common ways we waste money are failing to switch bills, paying for charges we could avoid and spending too much on a night out, according to Gocompare.com
The top 20 money ‘leaks’
1 -Takeaway meals 25%
2 - Paying for lunch or snacks while at work 21%
3 - Satellite TV subscriptions for channels hardly watched 19%
4 - Paying over the odds for utility bills by not shopping around for the cheapest tariff 18%
5 - Buying expensive takeaway coffee 18%
6 - Buying too many ready meals - 16%
7 - Spending too much at the pub or club 14%
8 - Cigarettes and tobacco 14%
9 - Mobile phone contract 14%
10 - Paying avoidable bank or overdraft charges 12%
11 - Paying avoidable credit card charges 11%
12 - Paying too much for home insurance by not shopping around for the best deal 10%
13 - Paying too much for car insurance by not shopping around for the best deal 8%
14 - Netflix or similar subscription 8%
15 - Paying fees at cash-tills to withdraw cash 7%
16 - Paying avoidable credit card annual fees 7%
17 - Unwanted magazine subscriptions 6%
18 - Gym membership which is hardly used 6%
19 - Subscriptions for apps that are hardly used 6%
20 - Amazon Prime membership 5%
How to stop wasting your money
Each item on this list falls into one of four categories – things that are bad for us, the things we don’t use, the things we put off doing and the things we just can’t be bothered with.
But with each, there are opportunities to save money. However, how you might approach them is different.
The habits we know are bad for us and our wallets
These are some of the most difficult to cut back on as they’re some of the things we enjoy the most – takeaways, snacks, coffees, drinks on a night out. The answer probably isn’t to go cold turkey, but instead to gradually reduce how much you spend on them.
Some things you might want to substitute for a cheaper alternative, others you might want to have less often.
Another trick to reduce this “unconscious spending” (so called because you don’t notice you’re doing it as often as you probably are), is to just take cash with you rather than your cards. This way you can only spend what you have – a particularly useful trick on nights out.
The things we don’t really use
Subscription services are among the biggest ways we waste cash in this category. From TV we don’t watch to memberships we don’t use, we’re paying and not using.
To get a sense of how much you do this, take a look at your bank statements. If you see recurring payments you don’t recognise find out what they are, and cancel them if you don’t need them.
The admin we put off
Most often this category is filled with bills and contracts that we ignore and let auto-renew. Yet these activities often seem scarier than they really are, and the money saved can be huge.
For example, using a comparison site to find a cheaper energy deal can take less than 20 minutes and save you around £300 a year. Plus, once it’s done, you don’t need to do it again for another 12 months.
The spending we’re just too lazy to change
From expensive lunches to late payments on bills, we often waste money here because we can’t be bothered to make the change. But it actually doesn’t take much to get rid of these extra costs.
The key is in planning ahead. You can avoid late credit card bills by setting up a Direct Debit, you can stop overdraft fees by setting up reminders to check your balance on an app, you can save on food by cooking more the night before and taking the leftovers to work.