Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Money Crashers: How to Stop Wasting Money

Since I started writing for Money Crashers, I've been receiving occasional e-mails from companies hoping that I'll want to mention their latest product or service in an article. I usually ignore these, but occasionally they send me something that's interesting enough to catch my attention. One recent example was a link sent to me by someone at HLoom about a survey the company had done on financial waste. It asked 2,000 Americans what they waste most money on and then broke down the results by gender, age, income, and region of the country.

Since ecofrugality is pretty much all about avoiding waste, this piece intrigued me. The part I found most interesting was the question about which wasteful expenses people were and were not willing to cut back on. Mind you, these are expenses that people personally admit are a waste of money—yet in some cases, they apparently prefer to keep wasting money on them. To my ecofrugal mind, that seems like a paradox; if it's money well spent, it's not a waste, and if it isn't, why keep spending it? But apparently the folks who took this survey define the word "waste" a bit differently than I do. (This may be the fault of the survey designers; as far as I can tell, they never explicitly stated what they meant by "waste," so each of those 2,000 people could be interpreting it a different way.)

Some of the responses they gave to this question seemed particularly odd. For instance, most people say they are willing to cut back on restaurant meals and alcoholic beverages, but not on food waste—meals and ingredients that go uneaten. This seems to me like a complete no-brainer; food you're not eating doesn't benefit you in any way, so why would you want to keep spending money on it? But apparently the folks who took this survey are convinced that doing what it takes to waste less food would have such a negative impact on their lives that they'd rather cut back on clothes, cigarettes, or even home heating.

Another puzzling expense people say they wouldn't cut was bottled water. Only about 11 percent of the respondents think they waste money on it, but those who do apparently consider it a worthwhile waste. Even if they know tap water is cheaper (and, in most parts of the country, just as safe and tasty), they just aren't prepared to let go of their bottles.

Anyway, all this seemed like a fertile enough field that I decided to devote a whole Money Crashers article to exploring it. The post examines the areas in which different people are most likely to waste money, how they vary based on demographics, and which forms of waste people are and aren't willing to cut. Then I go on to discuss ways of wasting less money in all these areas—without making the kinds of sacrifices that survey respondents appear to be afraid of.

Here's the full article: How to Stop Wasting Money and Save on Common Everyday Expenses

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