When you spend money, how often do you stop to think about your purchase before you buy it? Chances are, you only do this for large purchases. But here’s the thing – even small, every day purchases add up to a lot of money over the span of a year.

Worse, when it’s something that you buy all the time, you probably don’t give the purchase much thought at all. Overall, that automatic buying process is beneficial and time efficient. However, it can lead to overspending. So, here’s a list of 20 purchases that you make all the time that are a total waste of money.

20 Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money
20 Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money

#1-Kitchen Gadgets

When it comes to kitchen gadgets, I’m talking about things like a garlic press, apple slicer (or any fruit/veggie slicer), pizza scissors, etc. Let’s face it: kitchen gadgets look great, but how often do you use them? Maybe you bought it because you thought it would save you time during processing, but then you found out that it takes too much time cleaning it, so you never use it now. So, go ahead and donate those gadgets! Save yourself some money and regain some much-needed space in the kitchen!

#2-Bottled Water

Believe it or not, there are simple alternatives to using bottled water. Where you can, use a reusable water bottle instead. Best of all, many parks and public buildings, such as community centers, now offer a water fountain so that you can easily fill your water bottle. Then, when you’re at home, use your tap water, especially if you live in a city that has a water filtration system.

#3-Pre-Cut Foods

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – save money by not buying pre-cut foods. Yes, it adds convenience to your life, but that convenience comes with a hefty price tag. Plus, for me, I’ve found that the pre-cut foods aren’t always that fresh. Now I take the extra few minutes to cut up my own fruits and veggies, just so I can have fresher and tastier food! Oh, and since I’m talking about food, check out my blog post for 20 simple tips on how to save money in groceries.

#4-Power Tools

Power tools are another common purchase that we don’t often question. But how often do you use your tools? So, unless you’re going to be using a power tool on a frequent basis, you’re better off renting it when you do need one. Not only will you save money, but you’ll need less storage space in your house!

20 Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money
Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money: Kitchen Gadgets, Bottled Water, Pre-cut Foods and Power Tools

#5-Extended Warranties

I’m going to share with you a little-known fact that sales people don’t want you to know. If an appliance is going to break before it’s expected life span, it will most likely do that during the period of the normal warranty time period. That’s right! Those extended warranties that sales people always offer are a total waste of money!

#6-Wrapping Paper

When it comes to wrapping gifts, consider using a reusable box or gift bag instead. I’ve been doing this for years, because not only is it so much quicker to just place the gift in a bag, but it’s also a lot cheaper. If I do wrap a present, it’s for my son’s birthday or Christmas presents. That’s the one time I’ll make an exception, because, well as a kid half the fun of presents comes from unwrapping them!

#7-Paying for Unnecessary Insurance

I’m a firm believer in having insurance, but there is such a thing as having too much insurance. Set aside some time to review your insurance policies, especially when it’s time to renew your premium. Look at everything that is in your insurance policy – from deductibles to the amount of coverage. Also, don’t be scared of talking to your insurance agent. I’ve found them to be very helpful in finding ways to reduce your premium, without increasing your risk.

#8-Monthly Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes look like a lot of fun, mostly because it feels like you’re getting a gift every month. And sure, maybe sometimes you do discover something new. But how much in the subscription box do you actually use? So, be kind to the environment and cancel your subscription box already!

20 Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money
Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money: Extended Warranties, Wrapping Paper, Unnecessary Insurance and Subscription Boxes

#9-Video Game Microtransactions

So, you’re playing a free game on your iPad or your computer. The game is fun and best of all, it’s free. Or is it? I’m not talking about the annoying ads that you have to watch. I’m talking about all the little things you can purchase in the game – like more lives or extras to help you finish the level. Save your money and say no to the microtransactions!

#10-Unused Subscriptions and Memberships

It seems like more and more things are turning to monthly subscriptions. It’s easy to subscribe, especially if you get a discount for paying the whole year up front. Just make sure you’re using your subscriptions and memberships, otherwise, it’s a complete and total waste of money!

#11-Renting Storage Units

Yes, there is a time and place for renting out a storage unit (for example, before a big purchase or during home renovations). While the average rental duration is 14 months, according to Neighbor.com, 25% of the US population rents for 3 years or more! Given that the national average price is $90/month, you could be spending $1,080 every year, just for storage. So, don’t keep your stuff there any longer than you need to.

#12-Overdraft Fees and Late Payments

Have you ever forgotten about a bill? I’m not talking about the times when maybe you just didn’t have the money – I’m talking about you just plain forgot! Don’t worry, it happens. But it can be a very expensive error. So, get an organizational system in place to ensure that you pay your bills on time. Keep it simple and make sure it works for you. Then go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back for saving tons of money each year!

20 Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money
Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money: Video Game Microtransactions, Unused Memberships, Renting Storage Units and Overdraft Fees & Late Payments

#13-Credit Card Interest

If you think overdraft fees and late payment charges are bad, just take a look at how much interest you are paying when you don’t pay your credit card in full. Credit cards charge an insanely high interest rate. I firmly believe that credit cards are a good thing, mostly because you don’t have to carry around large amounts of money and you earn valuable reward points. However, credit cards are only good when you can pay off your credit card balance in full each month. So, if you don’t have the cash in the bank when you’re putting something on credit, that purchase will have to wait.

#14-Buying Something Just Because It’s on Sale

I love sales. I mean, who doesn’t? Sales are a fantastic way to save money – that is, if you were already planning on buying that item. If not, you could be buying a lot of “stuff” just because you feel like you’re getting a bargain. So, the next time you see a sale, take a moment to breathe and ask yourself, “If this item wasn’t on sale, would I be buying it?”. If the answer is no, then just step away.

#15-Upgrading Your Cell Phone Every Year or Two

Cell phone companies make it really easy to buy a phone on a payment plan. For just an extra $30 or $40 dollars a month, you can upgrade your phone to the newest and best version. It might not seem like that much, but when you add up the cost over a year, it really does add up. So, save up the money and pay for your phone in full when you buy it. Then, and this is the most important part, keep your phone for at least 3-4 years.


Emergencies are exactly what they sound like – unplanned expenses that can hit you hard. If you don’t have the money in the bank, how will you pay for it? If you’re like most people, you pay it by using your credit card. Ouch! But there is a way around this. It’s called an emergency fund! Start by putting a little bit of money aside each month, until you have saved 3-6 months of expenses. Then, when something unexpected pops up, you won’t be stressed!

20 Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money
Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money: Credit Card Interest, Buying Stuff Just Because it’s on Sale, Upgrading Your Cell Phone Too Often and Emergencies

#17-Lottery Tickets

While playing the lottery can be entertaining (insert daydream of winning millions here), the odds of you actually winning are very low. That’s why for me, buying lottery tickets is a total waste of money. So, save your money and put it to something that will bring you lasting joy!

#18-Expedited Shipping

So, you ordered something online and now you want to have it delivered faster. What do you do? Pay for expedited shipping. But do you really need to? Most of the time, we really can wait for the product to arrive in the normal delivery time. However, if the product is going to be delivered by a courier, most of the time it will arrive sooner than the estimated delivery time! This happens to me almost every time I order something on Amazon. Now, I don’t even consider paying for the expedited shipping!

#19-Food Deliveries

Eating out is expensive, but once you factor in having the food delivered to you, the cost goes up even more. That convenience charge will cost you big bucks! So, save the delivery charge by phoning your order in and picking it up yourself.

#20-Food Waste

It happens to all of us – we buy food thinking we’re going to eat it and then we end up throwing it out. Food waste is a huge problem for many reasons, including wasting money. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a few quick tips on how to reduce your food waste: meal plan before you go shopping, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry and eat your leftover food.

20 Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money
Common Purchases That Are a Total Waste of Money: Lottery Tickets, Expedited Shipping, Food Deliveries and Food Waste

Do you have any suggestions for common purchases that you think are a total waste of money?

Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!

With love,


Hi! I'm Joanne. I’m a Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CMA). Money management is a life skill that I passionately believe all people need to learn. As an accountant, I love helping people understand numbers and money. At BuildingJoyAndHappiness, I share my tips to money management and make understanding finances simple.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Alex

    Wow – I never thought of these. I will look and see which ones I can stop.

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