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21 Ways You’re Wasting Money Without Knowing It

Not paying attention to the fine print can cost you some serious cash. Here's how to save your money.


Airline fees

You're paying extra for almost everything when you fly these days, from your bags to your seat, the Motley Fool reports. So be sure to compare not only the prices of flights, but what they're charging in extra fees. You may also want to weigh your bag before you go to avoid any additional charges.

ATM machinesanjagrujic/Shutterstock

Bank fees

Not keeping enough money in your bank account could cost you some serious cash. How much? Americans pay $17 billion per year in fees for overdrafts and insufficient funds. (It costs $32.74 every time your account is overdrawn.) ATM and other maintenance fees can also add up to $1,000 over ten years. To avoid them, look for banks with free ATMs that don't charge monthly maintenance fees.

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Buying things new

Sure, a shiny new car is tempting. Car buyers spend an average of about $31,000 on new cars. But as soon as you drive it off the lot, the car loses 11 percent of its value. A better option? Opt for a reliable used car and a short-term loan you can pay off quickly. The same goes for electronics. Instead of the latest Mac, seek out "open box" items at electronics stores, such as refurbished computers. Don't miss these habits of people who are great at saving money.

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Cable TV

Access to hundreds of channels can add up to a monthly cable bill of $100. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to save money without sacrificing TV time. Services like SlingTV and HuluLiveTV range from $10 to $40 a month. Or Netflix is even less expensive—and commercial-free.

fruits and vegetables in packing Big Foot Productions/Shutterstock

Convenience foods

Pre-cut fruit and vegetables can save time, but they can also dent your wallet. Opting for 20 bags of lettuce over the course of a year instead of buying heads of lettuce will cost you about $60. Instead, buy food as close to its natural form as possible, and divide it up into portion sizes yourself. Find out the money-saving secrets of grocery-store insiders.


Credit card interest

The average American household is carrying about $16,425 in credit card debt. That adds up to about $1,292 in interest each year. To avoid paying extra money for old debts, try the snowball method. Pay off the card with the lowest balance first, then move on to the next one. Learn about the 19 personal finance tips you were never taught.

Rack with clean clothes on hangers after dry-cleaning indoorsNew Africa/Shutterstock

Dry cleaning

A typical trip to the cleaners for your pants and shirts can cost you more than $10. With a weekly visit, that could add up to more than $500 per year. To save that money, clean your shirts in the delicate cycle in your washer or hand wash them. Here are 10 more creative ways to save money.

Reserved sign on the table in a fancy restaurantYulia Mayorova/Shutterstock

Eating out

Going out to dinner with the family can be a nice treat, but doing it regularly really adds up. The average American household spends more than $3,000 a year on eating out. Instead of buying your lunch every day, save money by packing it. And before you go out, look for specials like coupons or happy hours or get appetizers instead of full meals. Here are 14 restaurant meals you're wasting money on.

Red car, outdoorsAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Extended warranties

Getting an extended warranty on that refrigerator or car you bought sounds like a good idea. But according to the FTC, most extended warranties aren't worth the money. Why? The fine print may not include likely problems, or you may be buying duplicate coverage. A better plan? Open a savings account and sock away money for any repairs that might come up.

Man buying food products in the supermarket shoppingLizardflms/Shutterstock

Impulse buys

According to a recent survey, five out of six Americans admit to making impulse purchases. And that's not just at the grocery store: some of those purchases can cost in the $1,000 range. Spur-of-the-moment buys can cost you more in the long term, because you may not really need them, or you haven't shopped around for better deals. Really want something? Take a 24-hour breather and see if you still do. Check out these savvy shopping tips.

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