These are the top reasons people waste their money

Over 1,000 people shared about their wasteful spending habits and found that 95% of respondents felt that they wasted more money than they should.

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Ubers, stuff you didn’t need from Amazon, overpriced drinks, bank fees from withdrawing your cash at the wrong ATMs, takeout – “convenience” isn’t that convenient when you’re wondering why your bank balance is hovering around $68.

The Ascent by The Motley Fool surveyed 1,015 people about their wasteful spending habits and found that 95% of respondents felt that people in the U.S. threw away more money than they should.


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The top 10 behaviors most widely considered a waste of money were:

  1. Paying excessive or unnecessary fees (76%)
  2. Paying excessive or unnecessary interest (73%)
  3. Impulse buying (71%)
  4. Redundant or repeat purchases (68%)
  5. Failing to return unneeded items (66%)
  6. Using unnecessary energy (like electricity or gas) (62%)
  7. Buying luxury or “status” goods (62%)
  8. Overpaying for digital services (59%)
  9. Purchasing name-brand when generic is just as good (59%)
  10. Not comparison-shopping or seeking out discounts (58%)

Two-thirds of those surveyed admitted that they had wasted a “considerable amount” of financial resources in their lifetime. Those also estimated they inadvertently wasted $139 a month. The average cost of their largest wasteful purchase was $521 (hello, designer sweater on sale!)

However, while 79% believe they waste more than they should, they believe they’re more or less the norm. Only 15% believe they waste more than average.

However, it’s a treacherous consumer market out there, full of marketing that turns us into beings driven by desire (59%) over logic (41%), distracted by sales and limited time offers and tricked into thinking a purchase will make us feel happier in the short run. In reality, respondents said, their wasteful buying made them feel more stressed in the long run.  Over half of those surveyed said they had suffered negative consequences due to wasteful spending, and 87% have made an impulse purchase they regret.

There is a third path

Respondents said they’d do positive things with their money if they wasted less of it, such as stress out less about finances (63%), save more for retirement (61%), and start investing or invest more (57%).

Respondents could agree on one thing: good financial habits were much less wasteful. Such as: paying all bill on time, limiting debt, saving, tracking spending, budgeting, and looking over bills and statements for accuracy. Mindful spenders spend less and spend it on the right things – maybe even a few that contribute to happiness.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.