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Ten Ways We Americans Are Wasting Our Hard Earned Money

Photo by Justin Sullivan for Getty Images

Counting the days until payday? You’re not the only one. We Americans are deeply in debt and often living paycheck to paycheck. Where does our money go? These are ten ways Americans waste their money. Are you guilty of any of these bad spending habits?

USA Today shows a bunch of ways Americans waste their money.  Do some of these sound familiar to you?

1.  Unused gift cards.  Remember that gift card you got for your birthday?  Find it and use it.  That’s money wasted if it’s just sitting in a drawer.  Think it doesn’t add up?  Consider this. From 2005 until 2011, $41 billion worth of gift cards weren’t redeemed.  Use it.  In 2008, New York state collected over $9 million in unused gift cards.

2.  Interest on credit cards.  The average American household is carrying almost $15,300 in debt and as of this past January, we Americans owe $856.9 billion in credit card debt.  While it’s not ideal to carry lots of credit card debt, there’s no need to pay high interest rates which make it that much harder to get out of debt faster.  Also, are you in credit debt by necessity or because you’re spending more than you make?

3.  Unclaimed tax refunds.  Like the ads for H&R Block say, Americans who do their own taxes left a billion dollars in unclaimed refunds last year.

4.  Gambling.  Did you know the average American spends $400 a year on gambling?

5.  Unhealthy foods.  Those unhealthy foods may taste good but they’re not good for your health or your wallet.  Americans spend $117 billion annually on fast food.  Candy isn’t just for Halloween but to give you an idea of how much Americans love their candy, $2.8 billion was spent last year on Halloween candy.

6.  Unclaimed property.  It could be stocks, checking accounts, CDs, or other things of value that we’ve forgotten about or lost track of.

7.  ATM fees.  Why should you pay an average of $3 per transaction for the privilege of taking your money out of a bank where you don’t have an account?  Those fees really add up.  In 2010, $7 billion dollars in ATM fees were collected.

8.  Lottery tickets.  The odds that you’ll win the big one are incredibly slim, yet Americans can’t resist lottery tickets.  We shelled out $66.5 billion on lottery tickets in 2011.

9.  Pricey Warranties.  Often they’re for two or three years and typically most products don’t break within that time.  Retailers get a huge mark up on warranties but for the most part, they’re not worth the money for the consumer.

10.  Wasted food.  Groceries are expensive yet Americans annually waste $165 billion on food they toss.  That’s roughly $529 a person each year.

Add up these ten ways Americans are wasting money and you’ll see why there are better ways to spend the money we work so hard for.

 

 

 

 

 

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