Never buy these biggest wastes of money if you want to save thousands
We all love to buy stuff but between outright scams and wastes of money, there are somethings you should never buy.
Most of us learn what these biggest wastes of money are the hard way, buying them only to see how useless they are. Between the overpriced crap that fills your cabinets to the things you buy and then never use, the scams on this list will cost you hundreds of thousands over a lifetime.
By the end of this video, you’ll know the 10 things you can skip that will save you over $10,000 a year, you’ll be happier and richer for it.
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Why Do We Buy So Much Useless Junk?
We live in a consumer nation, right? I’m not knockin’ it. I’m not one of these money people that preaches frugal living. I like buying stuff and I’m not going to live on ramen noodles.
But from outright scams to wastes of money and things you can get cheaper, there are some things you should never buy. I’m trying not to make a judgment call here, if you want that Nicholas Cage as the Mona Lisa iPhone case, then go ahead if it makes you happy.
But I’ve found 10 things that are going to cost you thousands, won’t make you happy and won’t help you reach that financial future you deserve. In fact, just eight of these money mistakes are going to save you over $9,600 a year and the last two will save you tens of thousands.
Never Buy Premium Gasoline
Our first thing you should never buy, and this is one I have very personal experience with is premium gasoline. I bought a Porsche Boxster when I was 23, yeah more on that disaster later, and everyone told me how I would ruin it if I put anything less than premium high-octane gas in it. I was even paying extra for those bottles of fuel additive.
Even if the owner’s manual recommends it, Jason Kavanaugh of Edmunds.com says regular gasoline won’t damage the engine and you won’t notice any change in performance. The difference in the octane rating is just a measure of how well the fuel mixture resists pre-ignition and there just isn’t that much difference.
The average American buys 656 gallons of gas a year with a difference of about $0.55 a gallon between premium and regular. That means a savings of $360 a year. Use some of that money to make sure your car stays tuned up with clean oil and you’ll be better off for it.
Why You Should Never Buy Vitamins
Our next thing you should never buy is another consumer myth and this one is a hard one to break, vitamins.
According to the Mayo Clinic, anyone with a balanced diet just doesn’t need supplements. Our bodies can’t digest the extra vitamins and they all get passed in the bathroom. Even if you don’t make it a point to eat healthy, almost everyone in our society gets way more than enough vitamins and minerals. Pregnant women should take a prenatal supplement but other than that…just expensive urine.
This is a really tough one to get away from but it is wasted money. At about $0.10 each and two per day, that’s $73 a year. Have an extra apple a day and exercise a little, your body will thank you for it.
Never Buy Bath Salts
Next we’ve got bath salts and I just felt half of you rolling your eyes. Now I’m not saying a good bath isn’t relaxing as hell and worth a little extra. What I am going to show you is how to get the exact same experience for a tenth the cost.
Bath salts are just Epsom salts with fragrance and food coloring. Go ahead and check the label, go ahead, I’ll wait.
So a one-pound jar of Bath and Body Works costs $16.50 and let’s say you use it once a week, right? You’re kind of stressed out about spending so much money and being in debt, so you’re spending about $198 a year to soak in smelly saltwater.
Instead, you’re gonna go to Walmart and you’ve got some options. You can pick up an eight-pound bag of Epsom salts, that is a lot of bath salt, like enough to salt your driveway in winter and still have enough for the bath, take that and add your favorite fragrances or you can even get the pre-scented stuff for about $1.62 per pound. You get the same relaxation and save $179 a year.
We’re already saving over $600 a year and haven’t even gotten to the good stuff. This next one is going to save over a thousand a year and make your vacations soooo much nicer.
Check out these other money-savers that save our family $7,500 a year
Are Timeshares a Waste of Money?
We’ve all been on vacation and someone comes up offering an amazing, unbelievable deal. A free cruise, free nights at Disney, just everything you can think of and all you have to do is sit through a 90-minute timeshare presentation.
Don’t do it!
Timeshares were a scam before AirBnb and the sharing economy and now they’re even more useless. The American Resort Development Association, a trade group of timeshare companies, reports the average cost of a timeshare around $20,000 with annual maintenance fees around $750
That’s usually for one-week in the condo so you’re already paying over $100 a night just in annual maintenance but the real kicker is if you ever try to sell a timeshare. You’ve got transfer fees, recording fees and assessments that usually knock 10% off what you get. You also have to pay a marketing fee or commission to the agent.
Timeshare agents make between $70,000 and $120,000 a year…and where do you think that money comes from?
So let’s say you are able to get full retail price when you sell it, something that’s unheard of, after fees you’re getting about 60% so about $12,000 from that $20K purchase. Don’t let them tell you the property increases in value. Real estate prices mostly keep up with inflation and these timeshare lots are always overpriced to begin with anyway.
So let’s say you use it every year for 5 years. That means only going to that one place for vacation, every. Single. Year. With the $8,000 loss on the sale, that’s another $1,600 a year added to maintenance costs for $2,350 a year or about $335 per night. Remember, this is all without travel costs and most other expenses, just the cost to stay at the resort.
We stayed at the Rosen Shingle Creek on our Orlando trip to Disney World which is way nicer than my cheap ass is usually going to spend but we wanted to splurge a little. Even that, a five-star experience, seven restaurants, pools, everything you could want was just $129 per night.
And the best part about not getting locked into a timeshare is that you’re not locked into a timeshare!
Why You Should Not Buy Credit Monitoring
Our fifth waste of money here is credit monitoring, paying a service to watch your credit report for ID theft. Now a new case of identity theft is reported every two seconds in America, that’s more than 15 million a year, so it is a problem.
Basic credit monitoring starts around $10 a month and you don’t get much until the $20 monthly level for most services. That’s $240 a year and the problem here is that it’s not going to stop identity theft.
These services only monitor your credit and alert you when something fishy is happening. You won’t know your identity has been stolen until it actually happens. Now these services do offer some help to get your credit back on track and keep from losing much money but I’m going to show you another way to REALLY protect yourself.
You can freeze your credit for just $10 for each credit report, so that’s $30 total. What this does is it locks your credit report. Nobody can put anything new on it or see what’s inside. You only have to freeze it once, no monthly fee.
If you want to apply for a loan, you pay the $10 to unfreeze one of your reports and then lock it back up afterwards. If you lock your reports for three years and need to unlock them twice for loans, that would cost a total of $70 versus the $720 you would have spent for three years of credit monitoring… that’s $213 a year in savings and you get true identity theft protection!
Why You Should Never Buy Baby Snacks
This sixth savings trick is one we saw big time with the birth of our son, all those single servings snack packs. We’re not talking just the cereal packs and juice boxes for kids but everything single serving for adults too.
We’ll pick on the cereal snack packs here but it’s really all of them. Here we have the Gerber Puffs cereal for $1.96 a cannister. Not bad, right? It says you get six servings so it lasts a few days and about $0.33 a day but add that up and it’s over $240 a year just in these little cereal snacks.
Compare that with everyone’s favorite breakfast bee and I swear identical ingredients at less than a nickel per serving. You end up saving over $207 a year and that’s not including all the other single-serving snacks you might be buying.
What are we at, over $2,400 in savings every year and has buying any of these really made you happier, healthier or better off?
Get your kids involved in saving money – check out these great money lessons for kids
Don't Pay for Hair Cuts
Now our next one is going to be a little hypocritical but I’ve got to include it. Haircuts. Maybe it’s a little easier for me to say but this one expense adds up to more than three grand a year for many families.
According to the Professional Beauty Association, the average cut and style for a woman is $43 while men are paying $28 and about every two weeks. That means from $672 to $1,032 a year just for one person. It can be a budget buster for a family of four.
Now I really didn’t have much of a choice in this one. It was either cut my hair short or have the most spectacular combover.
You don’t have to shave your head but there are all kinds of styles you can do with clippers or easy cuts you can do at home. Just one person keeping a short hairstyle in the family is going to save you $700 a year! That buys a lot of hats!
Never Buy a Sports Car…or a New Car
Our eighth big waste of money is a personal one for me. Let’s take the way back machine to 2002, I’m just a year out of the Marine Corps and a budding new real estate entrepreneur. I’m making money hand over fist, buying, rehabbing and then renting out. I’m refinancing 100% of the new remodeled value so I’m cashing out everything I put down plus making money.
I was going to be rich, like owning Boardwalk and Park Place rich!
So I drive down to Oklahoma City to buy a hot red Porsche Boxster, last year’s model but only 1,700 miles on the speedometer. Convertible. It was AMAZING!
I drove that car into the ground. I must have wrecked it seven times in the next four years. Put thousands into repairs, attracted all the wrong people and just generally paid way too much money to get from point A to point B.
You’ve heard all the clichés about buying a sports car. I’m glad I learned my lesson early because whatever reason you’re buying that sports car or that luxury car for, it’s not going to solve it.
And the purchase price is just about a third the story, everything is expensive with a sports car…because you can afford it, right? The total cost of ownership for a Boxster is now $76,544 over five years so about $15,000 a year.
Compare that to a nice sedan, here I looked at the Chrysler 200 series sedan which is still a very nice looking car and not the least expensive you can find but even this has a cost of ownership of just $32,392 or about $6,500 a year
If you win the lottery, go for it, who cares…otherwise save the $8,500 a year and be smart about what car you buy.
How Not to Buy Things You Won't Use
Our next thing not to buy is a catch-all category, it’s all those things that sound great but you know you’ll never use them. This includes hot tubs, boats, tread mills – all those big ticket purchases that you think you want and then they become hat racks.
About the same time I was buying the Porsche, I bought a house with a hot tub. These things are the worst money waster. You think it’s going to be like fun and parties, but it actually ends up looking like nastiness and pool chemicals.
Boats are super expensive too with the insurance, docking fees and they’re a nightmare to maintain.
I can’t put a price on these because there are so many things you can buy that just waste your money but be honest with yourself whether you’re every going to really use them.
Downsizing is a Great Way to Save Thousands
When it comes to saving money, downsizing is a great way to do it. You can save thousands of dollars by reducing the size of your home or moving to a smaller one.
There are many reasons to downsize. For starters, a smaller home costs less to heat and cool. And if you're paying off a mortgage, you'll save money on your monthly payments.
Another benefit of downsizing is that it's easier to keep clean and organized. A smaller home means less clutter and fewer things to maintain. Downsizing can also be liberating. When you live in a smaller space, you have to think carefully about what you bring into your home. This can help you simplify your life and focus on the things that are really important to you.
If you're considering downsizing, here are a few things to keep in mind:
If you're considering downsizing, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Think about your needs and wants. What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead? How much space do you need?
- Consider your budget. Can you afford a smaller home? Will you have to downsize your belongings as well?
- Do your research. There are many different types of homes available, so take the time to find the one that's right for you.
- Talk to your family and friends. They may have some helpful insights or advice on downsizing.
- Get organized. Downsizing can be overwhelming, so take it one step at a time. Start by sorting through your belongings and decide what you want to keep and what you can donate or sell.
Downsizing is a big decision, but it can be a great way to save money and simplify your life. Talk to your family and friends about your options and see if downsizing is right for you. It can be a great way to start saving money and live a more meaningful life. It's actually a much more manageable task than you may think.
Why You Shouldn't Buy a Big House
Our last waste of money here before getting to that bonus investment scam is our love of big houses.
Is it ironic or just tragic that we buy huge houses so everyone can have their own bedroom and private space…then we spend thousands on vacations to bring the family closer together?
According to the Federal Reserve, the median home price of $216,000 for 1,460 square feet works out to about $148 per square foot. That’s about four bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room, dining, kitchen and two extra rooms for an average family of less than three people.
Does everyone in the house really need their own bathroom? Their own sitting room?
Just downsizing to a 1,000 square foot home, that’s still big enough to have a lot of space, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms a big living room and dining room… but will save you over $68,000 on the price of your home.
How far does that $68 grand go? Well if you got a mortgage at 6% then the difference between a $216,000 house and a $148,000 house would end up being $146,770 over 30 years. Monthly payments on the McMansion would be about $1,300 versus just $887 for the smaller house. Let’s say you invest that extra $400 you save at 7% annual return and you’ve got a house paid for plus over $500,000 saved for retirement after 30 years!
Save Money without Skimping
None of these ten things you shouldn’t buy means skimping or sacrificing. None of them truly made your life any happier by having them but by not buying them, you’ll save tens of thousands a year.
This last warning, the bonus investment scam, I just had to include though because it’s another personal story I’ve had to learn from the hard way.
Flash back again, this time to the late 80s and everyone is buying comic books. Rare comics like the first Spider-man are going for thousands and everyone wants to be rich on this new collectible.
I was coming up on my early teens and had been buying comic books for years and my dad started buying them as well. We were going to conventions and probably spending upwards of $20 or $30 a week on comics.
By the time my dad died when I was 24, we still had 19 boxes of comic books that were worth all of $127 at the local dealer.$127 for something we had spent easily thousands to collect.
It’s one thing to buy collectibles because you enjoy them, but don’t think you’re going to get rich. This includes coins, sports cards and memorabilia, and whatever the latest craze is. Most of these things are made in the millions. For every signed Mickey Mantle, there are a million cards that are never worth more than you paid for them. Instead, buy what makes you happy and just invest your money in legit investments to make you rich.
You don't have to lock your money away and never spend it. You work hard for your money and deserve to have a little fun from it. Before you rush off to the mall though, ask yourself if it's worth it or if that diamond-encrusted back scratcher is just a big waste of money. You'll find a lot of the things we buy do nothing to make us happy and you'll save thousands.
Read the Entire Saving Series
- 20 Money Saving Tips to Save $7,500 a Year
- Can I Afford a House? [Dave Ramsey Secret to Saving More]
- 36 Expert Ideas on Teaching Kids Money Saving Tips
- How Much is Social Security? [The Retirement Savings Crisis Explained]
- Get 150-Times More Interest on Your Savings (Best High Interest Savings Account 2021)
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.