Here are 23 ways to waste your money really fast! Call it an opportunity to take a closer look at your spending habits if you like.. what do you think are the biggest wastes of money?
Sometimes when you are preparing a savings plan, it’s interesting and proves useful to look at the flip side of what you are trying to do. When we do this in the website industry, we call it ‘competitor analysis’. So, with the idea of saving money (to invest) in mind, I thought today I would look at 23 ways you can spend your money really quickly! Maybe this will give you an insight into your own spending habits and where your money goes!
1 – Frequently buying New (and too big) cars
Buying a new car is a surefire way to quickly drain your bank balance, given the price tag for most new cars in Australia in 2023 is $42,000! Especially when you buy *too* much car! Whilst the cheapest new car available will set you back just under $19,000, the price of new cars has soared in Australia by a whopping 22% on average and up to a 50% premium for some models since 2019.
Dealers no longer offer juicy discounts, so you are more likely to pay full price for the vehicle, too.
Just driving that car off the car yard lot, the vehicle is depreciating significantly! For example, a year before my mother passed, she purchased an SUV for $38,000. After she passed and we looked to liquidate her estate, she had had the vehicle for just one year and it had driven 10,000km. The dealer was happy to take it back and offered us $28,000 – a 27% depreciation in just one year! Then when you consider the fees and costs such as on-road costs (rego and stamp duty etc) which added up to nearly another $2,000, we are looking at a 30% reduction in money in just 12 months – without even considering operational costs like fuel, detailing and maintenance!
In addition to this huge depreciation in the first year (and then additional depreciation in subsequent years) you will clearly want to insure such an expensive liability and keep it maintained in pristine condition. These two things will also cost you a significant premium (compared to say a 5-year-old car which you are less precious about).
The difference between fully comprehensive and third party car insurance for me alone is about $900 per year!
Sure, you might not want to drive a bomb, but buying a new car every year or two is a surefire way to spend your money really quickly! My strategy has been to buy a good quality low mileage used car at the 3-5 year old mark, and then drive it for 10 years. It’s worked so far, and saved me a heap of money.
2 – Living in too much house
Recent data has shown nearly 40% of homeowners go over their budget when purchasing a home. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, especially when emotions are running hot and there is competition involved (and those bloody realtors who know exactly which strings to pull to manipulate you).
“If you don’t go in with a clear budget in terms of what it is you can comfortably spend, you get attached — especially if you find a house that speaks to you,”
More recently the trend of reducing interest rates has flipped, and with the RBA raising interest rates we are seeing a lot of new homeowners being caught in a so called ‘equity trap’. This is where reducing interest rates have artificially inflated housing prices to such a high level that mortgagees are up to their eyeballs in ‘cheap debt’, that with a few RBA rate rises becomes increasingly unaffordable. The cruel reality is that as the interest rates rise, there is an opposite effect on housing prices, as the debt becomes less and less affordable, there are less people able to service it and thus buy the houses – housing prices correct as a result.
So the dual-income professional working couple who has just spent $2.5M on their large inner Sydney city suburban family home, may get a rude shock to find they actually have negative equity – that is to say, if they sold their house they would walk away with potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to the bank!
Aside from the cost of housing itself and the risks of borrowing such large sums of money, living in too much house costs you a lot to maintain – whether you rent it or buy it. A larger house takes more;
- Time to clean inside and maintain the gardens outside
- Furniture to fill it
- Energy to heat and cool
- You pay more taxes (council rates) on it (this cost is passed right on to renters FYI!)
Whilst not for everyone, I was quite content in my one-bedroom Sydney apartment. I was lucky enough to have a decent-sized balcony where I had lots of plants (fruit trees and veggies) growing in pots. When I moved to Adelaide I upgraded to a two-bedroom apartment (so I had an office / guest room) which felt like moving to a luxury mansion! It even had a much larger balcony, so I was able to get more plants!
I personally found that even when I was living back with my mum in her large, 6 bedroom house, that we only used a very small portion of the space anyway – which I was used to from living in such small apartments. This meant all that extra space was really… just going unused!
3 – Keeping up with the Joneses
Keeping up with the Joneses means spending for the sake of social standing – to look ‘cool’. Don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of this in the past – for example when my friends and I got really into riding motorcycles, I bought an expensive super sport race bike – second hand of course (but still expensive).
Decide what it is that you truly value and make sure you’re not throwing money away on unnecessary material purchases, just to look ‘rich’.
4 – Constantly buying the latest Tech
If you are constantly buying the latest tech – i.e. upgrading to the next iPhone, or buying the next biggest TV, you are spending way more than you need to. Again, there are heaps of second hand options on Gumtree or Facebook marketplace, where people ARE actually upgrading their tech, and selling off their older (perhaps only a year or two older) tech items at great prices!
The tech companies want you to upgrade, they want you to buy the latest, the best, the better features, and spend more money, but hey, in my book, if it still works just fine, is there really a need to upgrade?
5 – Frequently travelling overseas for holidays
I guess I have thoroughly scratched my travel bug itch due to my work as an international cargo pilot (although spoiler alert, we usually went to the most boring places!), so my desire to travel to the far exotic locations is probably significantly less than your average Aussie. I enjoy travelling domestically to see friends and family within Australia, and prefer to road trip and take my time where I can.
Frequently travelling overseas for holidays is an expensive way to spend your down time – the costs involved in the airfares and time spent travelling alone is a real deal breaker for me! Add in currency exchange, the cost of accommodation, food, drinks and activities in touristy locations and you have a recipe for a budget deficit!
6 – Eating out too often
We pay a significant premium for convenience when it comes to eating out – Takeaway is expensive! For example, a coffee at home might cost you 20 to 30 cents to brew, but the same thing in a take-away paper cup will cost you around $5 these days (which can add up to over a thousand dollars per year for your usual morning cuppa). Similarly, frequent take-away lunches, dinners and food delivery services can siphon your bank balances!
7 – Not having a meal plan and grocery budget
Let’s talk about meal plans and grocery budgets! This is a great way to waste money by not pre-planning your meals and having a budget for groceries. Meal planning helps you plan ahead so that you know what ingredients to buy, which can help lower the cost of groceries as you don’t have to make impulse purchases or buy things that go off too quickly. By setting yourself an inexpensive grocery budget, you can buy only what you need, try your best to resist those impulse purchases near the checkout or at the end of aisles (yes, I have to practice this too), and buy only what you need.
You can also save money by buying in bulk, as explained in my article HERE.
Sometimes shopping online, or choosing click and collect can be better for this – while you may have to pay a delivery fee, you can avoid those in-store spontaneous purchases.
8 – Having an expensive hobby
Motorsport, Aviation and SCUBA diving are all expensive hobbies I have that can become wasteful if you let them. Having said that, having an expensive hobby doesn’t necessarily mean you are wasting money – it can be a really enjoyable and rewarding way to spend your time (and the FIRE movement is all about deliberate spending to maximise life enjoyment).
However, if this becomes an obsessive habit that ends up causing financial hardship, or you are clearly overdoing it – then perhaps it’s worth reviewing the cost of your hobby and scaling back accordingly!
As an example, low-cost hobbies I have include cooking, hiking, swimming, camping, gardening and reading. I actually prefer to have a majority of low cost hobbies, but still enjoy the odd scenic flight, motorcycle ride and diving.
9 – Carrying expensive debt
Credit card interest, personal loans and car loans are where most people are spending money and quite frankly, wasting money. Credit card debt and interest for example (as well as credit card fees) can be really costly to service at around 15 to 20% interest. The key is to avoid incurring any unnecessary, high interest debt if possible or at least keep it to a minimum, by creating an emergency fund first and then working on paying off any existing debts you may have (such as your credit card balance). You can read my article on bad Debt HERE.
“There are 13,247,246 credit cards in Australia as of January 2023, netting a national debt accruing interest of $18.3 billion. For many Australians, managing credit and debt through credit cards is a common element of their day-to-day money habits, while for others a few bad mistakes have resulted in a downward debt spiral.”Graham Cooke – finder.com.au/credit-cards/credit-card-statistics
10 – Paying expensive or excessive fees
Investment management fees, bank fees, superannuation fees, extended warranties, insurance fees, and subscription fees can really add up quickly!
Make sure you are aware of the fees associated with any product or service you may be engaging in – often there is a lower cost alternative.
For example, if you were to invest your money: DIY investing platforms such as Pearler allow you to buy index-fund ETFs with amazingly low Management Expense Ratios and very competitive low brokerage fees (under $10), compared to paying a full-service active fund manager.
You can also take a look at any fees you may be paying for cell phone insurance, personal finance advice you may not need, streaming services, overdraft fees, gym membership fees (especially if you don’t go!), ATM fees, credit card monthly fees and even in app purchases!
11 – Paying for unnecessary insurance
Insurance products can be very costly. It is important to review your policies regularly and make sure you are getting the best deal possible. Taking out too much coverage or having unnecessary extras can add up to a lot of wasted premiums over time!
A question to ask is can you self-insure some of the risk? For example, using a larger emergency fund to select a 90-day waiting period on income protection insurance rather than selecting a 30-day waiting period, or using third-party property insurance rather than fully comprehensive car insurance, knowing you can buy a quality second hand car if needed using your EF).
Remember, if you rely on your income, or you’re raising children, insurance is seriously important to cover your ass, so don’t cheap out and cancel necessary insurance to save money as this could really come back and bite you if you ever have an incident and need to claim.
Consider your policies on the following insurances, what your coverage really needs to be, what the premiums and excesses are, what are the exclusions if any (loopholes insurers use to get out of paying a claim!), and what the policies actually cover;
- Health insurance
- TPI/TPD (total and permanent impairment/Disability) insurance
- Life Insurance
- Income protection insurance
- Pet insurance
- Home and contents insurance
- Landlord insurance
- Car insurance
- Travel insurance
- Rental car insurance
- Identity theft insurance
Choice have a great article on unnecessary insurance policies HERE.
12 – Buying brand names
Brand names often have significant markups compared to non-branded or generic products. This markup is not necessarily due to the quality of the product but can be attributed to the costs associated with branding such as marketing, advertising, and promotions. Brand names can also create a perceived value that’s not always in line with the actual cash value or quality of the product. In some cases, consumers pay for the brand and not the product itself. This can especially be true for products where the brand and its associated image are a major selling point, like luxury items.
There are often non-branded or generic alternatives that offer comparable (if not better) quality at a fraction of the price. For instance, many generic medicines have the same active ingredients and efficacy as their branded counterparts but are significantly cheaper. For example, Panadol – you can buy generic Paracetamol in non branded packaging, but many people will buy Panadol as it’s a known, reputable brand.
The allure of brand names is often linked to societal pressures and the desire to be perceived in a certain way. Just because something is from a well-known brand doesn’t necessarily mean it’s of high quality or that it’s the best option available. In some sectors, particularly electronics or appliances, lesser-known brands might offer superior products.
That said, it’s worth noting that not all brand name products are a “waste of money.” In some cases, they might offer better customer service, warranties, or genuinely superior quality. Also, some people derive genuine pleasure or confidence from using or wearing branded items, and that subjective experience can have real value. Me? I’m happy with my non-branded clothes and will happily wear them again and again until they’re literally falling apart. There are only a few branded, pricier items I have bought, which you can read about in my article on Expensive things I bought that saved me money.
As with all purchases, it’s essential for consumers to do their research and decide what’s worth the investment based on their needs, values, and budget.
13 – Buying herbs and garden greens all the time
You don’t need a large amount of space to be able to grow your own herbs and veggies! You can see how I did it in my article on Grow Rich with a Garden, and I only had a small apartment balcony in Sydney. Buying fresh herbs and simple garden greens from the supermarket, week after week, can get very expensive! Growing these things yourself takes minimal effort and will save you heaps of money!
Here’s why buying fresh herbs and garden greens can become expensive and why home cultivation might be a better option:
- Mark-Up at Supermarkets: Supermarkets mark up the prices of herbs and greens for profit. When you buy from a store, you’re not just paying for the plant; you’re also paying for transportation, storage, labor, and a share of the store’s overhead costs.
- Freshness & Shelf Life: Fresh herbs and greens have a limited shelf life. If you don’t use them quickly, they can wilt or rot, leading to waste and the need for repurchase. When you grow your own, you can harvest exactly what you need when you need it, ensuring maximum freshness.
- Quantity: Often, the quantity provided in supermarket packets is more than what’s required for a single meal. This excess can lead to waste. Growing your own means you can harvest the right amount without excess.
- Frequency of Purchase: If you use herbs and greens frequently in your meals, the cost accumulates over time. This recurring expense can be significantly reduced or even eliminated by establishing a continuous supply from your garden.
- Varieties & Selection: Supermarkets usually stock popular varieties, but when you grow your own, you have the freedom to choose from a diverse range of cultivars, many of which might be more flavorful or better suited to your culinary needs.
14 – Paying for Subscriptions
Subscriptions are becoming a much more popular business model, and why not? People sign up, and they forget about it! Sometimes that can be a good thing, as they don’t miss paying a bill and losing access to a particular service or delivery, and sometimes it can just be a huge financial drain when you’re paying for something you’re not using!
Gym memberships, streaming services, dating apps, food delivery services, music subscriptions, the list goes on!
If not managed properly, subscriptions can become financial black holes. Here’s why:
- Forgetfulness: One of the biggest issues with subscription services is that they often employ a set-it-and-forget-it model. After signing up, the service automatically deducts its fee every month or year, and users can easily forget they’re even subscribed, especially if they’re not using the service regularly.
- Multiple Subscriptions, Overlapping Content: It’s not uncommon for someone to have multiple streaming subscriptions, for example, many of which may offer overlapping content. This means you might be paying multiple times for the same or similar content.
- Underutilization: A gym membership is only valuable if you’re using it. If you’re only going once every few months, you’re essentially paying a premium for each visit. The same goes for streaming services, music subscriptions, and dating apps. If you aren’t actively using these platforms, the cost per use becomes very high.
- Hidden Fees and Upgrades: Some subscriptions come with added fees or push users to upgrade to more expensive plans, making the overall cost higher than initially expected.
- Impulse Sign-Ups: Introductory offers or free trials can lure users into signing up for a subscription service. However, once the trial ends, they might forget to cancel and end up getting charged for a service they might not need or want in the long run.
- Difficulty in Canceling: Some services make it challenging to cancel subscriptions, hoping that the hassle will deter users from discontinuing. This can lead to continued charges even when someone no longer wants or uses the service.
- Food Delivery Subscriptions: While these offer convenience, they might also deter you from cooking at home, which is often a more cost-effective and healthier option. Over time, the costs of these deliveries can add up significantly.
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Many subscribe to services because of peer pressure or the fear of missing out on something popular, even if they don’t genuinely need or want the service.
- Financial Management: Having numerous subscriptions can complicate budgeting and financial management. Small monthly fees can add up, and over the course of a year, you might be surprised at the total amount spent on unused or underused services.
- Data Overload: For content-based subscriptions, like a streaming service or music services, there’s often more content than one can realistically consume. This leads to choice paralysis or continuously paying for content that will never be used.
For these reasons, it’s crucial to regularly review and assess the value of subscription services. Setting reminders for free trials, regularly auditing monthly expenses, and honestly evaluating the usage and benefit of each service can help prevent wasteful spending. If a subscription isn’t offering value or being used, it might be time to cancel.
15 – The food going off in your kitchen!
Are you guilty of this?? I would be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of this.. I think we all are at some stage, but some of us definitely more than others. Check the bottom of your veggie drawer in the fridge, or the back of the pantry. Buying groceries and then forgetting about them, allowing them to rot or sit there beyond their expiry date can be a huge waste of money! It depends what you’re buying and what you’re actually using, but the following tips can help you prevent food waste and money wastage:
- Check your fridge and pantry before you go to the grocery store, so you know what you already have and to prevent doubling up on items
- Rotate items in the fridge and pantry when packing away fresh groceries, so the oldest items get used up first
- Explore recipes that you can create with food you have at home, instead of continually buying new groceries
- Assess storage options – some fresh fruit and veggies need to be sealed in airtight containers, or stored appropriately to avoid early spoilage
16 – Buying ‘Clearance’ and ‘Bargain’ items
Certainly, the allure of clearance racks and “bargain” tags is undeniable for many shoppers. The idea of getting something for much less than its original price can be incredibly enticing. However, consistently giving in to the enticement of these sales racks can end up costing more than you realise. Here’s why:
- Mistaking Want for Need: Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s a necessity. A genuine bargain is when you get something you need at a reduced price. If you’re buying something you didn’t intend to just because it’s cheap, you’re still spending unnecessary money.
- The “It’s Cheap!” Trap: This mindset can be dangerous. Even small amounts add up over time. Spending $10 here and $20 there on items you don’t need will accumulate into a significant sum.
- Impulse Purchases: Clearance racks often encourage impulse buying, which means you might not give the purchase proper thought. You may end up with something that doesn’t fit well, isn’t quite the right style, or isn’t actually useful, leading to buyer’s remorse.
- Clutter Accumulation: Constantly buying items on clearance can lead to an accumulation of items you don’t use or need, cluttering up your living space and possibly leading to additional expenses or stresses in the form of storage solutions.
- Quality Concerns: Items on clearance, especially clothing, may be there because they didn’t sell well in the first place. This could be due to issues with quality, style, or functionality. There’s a risk of buying items that won’t last long or won’t meet your expectations.
- The Illusion of Savings: When you see a $100 item marked down to $30, you might think you’ve saved $70. But if you didn’t need the item in the first place, you’ve actually spent $30 unnecessarily.
- Opportunity Cost: Money spent on unnecessary clearance items could have been saved or spent on experiences or items you genuinely value and would use.
To truly benefit from bargains and clearance sales, it’s essential to approach them with a discerning eye. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if the item is something you genuinely need or will use. If it’s not, it’s probably not the bargain it seems to be. It’s always a good practice to differentiate between wants and needs, take a good look at your spending habits and to remember that not every reduced price is a green light to buy.
17 – Using appliances unnecessarily
Using the heater instead of putting on a jumper and grabbing a blanket, chucking clothes in the dryer every time instead of hanging them in the sun or on a clothes rack to dry, using the air conditioner rather than fans, having the TV constantly on, boiling the kettle 55 times per day (yes, it can chew through the electricity), running the washing machine and the dishwasher when they’re not full, overfilling your fridge and freezer, allowing gaming devices to stay on for really long periods of time – it all adds up! This comes back to reviewing your energy bills and reviewing what appliances are using the most energy.
Have you ever gone away from home for 2 or 3 weeks and seen a huge drop in your utility bills? What does that tell you?
Using everyday appliances unnecessarily or overusing them can really rack up your power bill and so it’s important not only to have energy-efficient appliances, but to monitor their usage too.
18 – Not comparing bills and auditing them
Do you pay your bills when they arrive without looking at the details, or comparing with other providers? Maybe you’re on direct debit and therefore money just gets debited before you’ve even had a chance to review the bill. Do you ever pay your bill late and end up paying a late fee? All of these practices can suck money straight out of your wallet.
I have some awesome ways to help you Save money on your bills, with actual scripts you can use when speaking to providers.
Honestly, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know how much you could have saved! I have saved hundreds of dollars, asking for better deals from certain providers, or simply switching companies if my current provider is not willing to negotiate.
It might be your phone provider, internet provider, electricity company, car insurance provider or your home loan. It’s worth taking a small amount of time to do some comparisons, to audit your bills, check your bank statement and find out where and how you can save.
19 – Buying brand new books
Ok, I’m the first to admit I am guilty of this, big time! That’s why this made the list. I just like jumping on Amazon and ordering new books and getting stuck in when it arrives. I have to say though, I usually pass the books on to a friend or family member when I’m done to avoid having to buy a second bookshelf!
It is a bit of a waste of money though, continually buying brand new books and I have made a pact to make more of an effort to visit the local library for books on my reading list. I usually get through books pretty quickly so that should save me a bit of money, borrowing rather than buying. It’s better for the environment too. I’ve also started reading books on my Kindle, and you can access library books on there too, which is pretty cool.
20 – Paying for convenience
Paying for convenience can be a tempting proposition, especially in today’s fast-paced world where time seems to be a scarce commodity. While in certain situations, paying for convenience might be justified, in others, it can result in unnecessary expenses. Here’s why:
- Marked-Up Prices: Many convenience services or products come at a premium. For example, pre-chopped vegetables or meats are generally more expensive than their whole counterparts. While you’re paying for the time saved in preparation, you’re also paying a significant markup for the same product.
- Impulse Buys: Convenience stores, like those at petrol stations, often price items much higher than supermarkets or larger stores. Stopping in for a quick chocolate, bag of chips or soft drink can lead to spending more than if you had planned ahead.
- Compromised Quality: With some convenience services, you might sacrifice quality for time. Pre-chopped fruits and vegetables, for instance, can lose nutrients faster than whole produce. They may also not be as fresh by the time you consume them.
- Loss of Skills: Relying too heavily on convenience services can mean not developing or losing certain skills, whether that’s cooking, cleaning, or basic car maintenance. Over time, this increased dependency can lead to higher expenses as you might find yourself constantly paying for services that you could easily do yourself.
- Indirect Costs: Using meal delivery services regularly doesn’t just cost the price of the meal; there’s also typically a delivery fee and a service fee. These costs can quickly add up over time.
- Environmental Impact: Convenience often comes with added packaging or waste. Pre-packaged snacks, single-use containers from meal delivery services, or excessive water usage from professional car washes can have a negative environmental impact.
- Missed Opportunities: Doing tasks yourself, like cooking or cleaning, can be therapeutic and provide a sense of accomplishment. There’s also a chance to bond with family members over shared tasks or teach valuable life skills to children.
- Recurring Costs: Hiring regular services, such as cleaners or lawn maintenance crews, can turn into significant recurring costs. While they provide a valuable service, it’s essential to weigh the cost against the actual time saved and determine if it’s a justified expense.
- Eroding the Value of Money: Continually opting for convenience can sometimes erode the understanding of the value of money, especially when small, frequent expenses go unnoticed. Take a look at your spending habits! Over time, you might find yourself spending excessively without realizing the cumulative cost.
- Potential Health Impacts: Regularly relying on takeout or meal delivery services might lead to unhealthy eating habits as these meals can sometimes be more calorie-dense and less nutritious than home-cooked ones. LinkedIn has an interesting article on The Real Price Paid for Convenience HERE.
However, it’s also essential to recognize that there are situations where paying for convenience is worth the cost. For those with extremely busy schedules, certain health conditions, or other commitments, these services can genuinely be a lifesaver. The key is to strike a balance. Evaluate the true cost of convenience in terms of money, health, environmental impact, and personal growth, and decide where it makes sense to pay for it and where it’s better to invest a bit of time and effort.
21 – Paying high fees to invest money
Are you day trading, rather than investing for the long term? If that’s your preference, that’s up to you, but be aware that in many cases, this can cost you more money. I prefer to dollar cost average into low cost index funds which means whether the market is up or down, I invest anyway, into low-cost index funds and I leave it in there for the long term, rather than picking individual stocks to trade. You can read my individual investing strategy HERE.
If you’re paying high brokerage fees, this can erode any returns you are getting, so be mindful of how much you are investing and the fees you are paying to invest. Online brokers such as Pearler keep their brokerage fees low and encourage long-term investing, so investors are more likely to invest more regularly and see better returns over the long term.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the management fees and MER fees of shares too. Management fees can also erode returns if investors are not careful. You can read more about MER fees on RASK Education HERE.
22 – Buying ‘cheap’, rather than buying quality
Certainly, the appeal of low-priced items is undeniable for most consumers. While a low price tag can sometimes indicate a good deal, there are instances when opting for cheaper items can be counterproductive in the long run.
Cheap items, especially when it comes to clothing or electronics, often compromise on quality. This means they can wear out or break down faster, requiring replacements more frequently. Over time, this can end up costing more than investing in a high-quality item initially. You can read about the Expensive things I bought that actually saved me money HERE.
The Cost per Use/Wear is a crucial concept in evaluating the true value of a purchase. For instance, a $10 shirt that lasts for only 10 wears costs $1 per wear. But a $50 shirt that lasts 100 wears also costs $0.50 per wear, proving to be a better long-term investment.
Buying cheap often leads to a “false economy” where the initial savings from the purchase are offset by the longer-term costs of replacements or repairs.
Cheap items may come with hidden costs. For example, a low-quality appliance might consume more electricity or a cheap car might have lower fuel efficiency.
Using or wearing a high-quality product usually offers a better experience. Whether it’s the comfort of well-made clothing, the efficiency of a good appliance, or the performance of a quality tool, better products often enhance the user’s experience.
The “Buy It for Life” Philosophy: This is the idea of buying the best quality item you can afford so that it lasts as long as possible, perhaps even a lifetime. It’s an antidote to the disposable culture and emphasizes long-term value over short-term savings.
While it’s essential to be budget-conscious, it’s equally crucial to recognize the difference between value and price. Sometimes, the allure of a lower price can blind consumers to the hidden costs and missed benefits of quality. Making informed decisions based on both price and potential long-term value can lead to more satisfying, sustainable, and economically wise purchases.
23 – NOT utilising high-interest savings accounts
Storing money in simple transaction accounts, particularly in significant amounts, can indeed represent a missed financial opportunity. Here’s why:
- Lost Interest Earnings: Transaction accounts typically offer minimal to no interest. In contrast, a high-interest savings account can provide a return on your money with a decent interest rate, letting it grow over time. If you’re storing a substantial sum in a transaction account, you’re effectively foregoing the potential earnings that you could have achieved with a high-interest savings account.
- Inflation Erosion: With inflation, the purchasing power of your money decreases over time. If your money isn’t growing through interest, it’s effectively losing value. A high-interest savings account can help mitigate the effects of inflation on your savings.
- Mortgage Offset Benefits: A mortgage offset account is linked to a home loan and reduces the interest you pay. Money kept in this account “offsets” the loan balance, meaning you’re only charged interest on the difference between your loan amount and the balance in the offset account. By reducing the amount of interest you pay, you can save thousands over the life of the loan.
- Liquidity Concerns: Some might argue in favor of keeping money in transaction accounts due to liquidity (i.e., easy access to funds). However, many high-interest savings accounts offer similar liquidity, allowing you to transfer funds back to your transaction account when needed.
- Lack of Capitalization: One of the wonders of earning interest is compound interest, where you earn interest on the interest you’ve previously earned. By keeping funds in a transaction account instead of a high-interest savings account, you miss out on the benefits of compounding, which can significantly boost your savings over time.
- Psychological Factor: Seeing your money grow in a savings or offset account can also be a motivational factor, encouraging better financial habits and more savings – allowing you to save for a house down payment or something else. On the other hand, a stagnant balance in a transaction account might not inspire the same discipline.
- Safety Nets: High-interest savings accounts can act as a safety net, providing a financial cushion in emergencies. The interest earned can add to this buffer over time.
- Tax Efficiency: In some jurisdictions, the interest saved from a mortgage offset account is not considered income, making it tax-efficient. In contrast, interest earned in a savings account might be taxable.
- Diversification and Flexibility: Different financial institutions offer various features and benefits for their savings and offset accounts. By exploring options, you can find an account that suits your needs and maximizes your returns. You can compare Barefoot Bank Accounts in my article HERE.
In summary, while transaction accounts are essential for daily financial activities, they’re not optimized for storing large amounts of money over extended periods. By making smart choices about where to keep your funds, such as in high-interest savings accounts or mortgage offset accounts, you can maximize the return on your money, protect its value against inflation, and enjoy additional benefits. It’s about letting your money work for you, rather than just letting it sit idle. Don’t forget to check those bank fees too!
There are many ways we can waste our money really fast and many people do. There are also heaps of ways we can save extra money and learn to live below our means on our journey to FIRE. You can read my article on 10 Money Saving Tips HERE as well as my articles on setting up your Barefoot Investor Buckets and my We Money app review – which details how you can manage your spending and budgeting through the We Money platform.
What do you think are the biggest money wasters? What do you enjoy spending money on and have you wasted money on any of the above? Let me know in the comments..