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14 Tiny Splurges That End Up Costing You Way More Than You Thought

We all know how quickly a $6 latte can become a habit. Here's a look at the "small" reasons your bank account might be running on empty.


Pet grooming

There are a lot of secrets your pet won’t tell you—but “I need a spa day” probably isn’t one of them. Luxe treatments for pampered pooches can add up quickly and can be a real factor in wasting money. “One national chain advertises ‘Groom + Top Dog Add-On’ priced at up to $148, which includes ‘upgraded shampoo and conditioner, teeth-brushing/breath freshener, bandana or bow, scented cologne spritz, nail grind (separate from regular trim), scented face wash, paw massage, coconut-oil nose and paw rub, and ear flushing,'” according to Kimberly Foss, CFP, founder and president of Empyrion Wealth Management. “Don’t Splurge above basic grooming! The opportunity cost over 10 years is $21,185—even more if you bathe your dog at home too.” Here’s a look at five more pet items you might be wasting your money on.

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Weekly mani/pedi

This little luxury really adds up. According to consumer pricing site, a small nail salon (not a spa or resort) charges an average of $12.50 for a manicure and $20 for a pedicure. “That’s an opportunity cost over 10 years of $17,358!” Foss says. Plus there are dangers with in-salon nail treatments, so all the more reason to opt for a DIY mani/pedi. Here’s what nail salon technicians won’t tell you.

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ATM fees

Bank machines are everywhere, and you may find that super convenient when your wallet is empty. But if you aren’t a member of that bank, get ready to pay a fee. “On top of the $2 or $3 dollars charge, your own bank may charge an additional amount for not using their machine,” says founder of Harvin Consulting, Calvin Harris Jr., CPA. “Suddenly the $30 you pulled from the machine really costs you $36. If you go to an ATM just once a week that isn’t your bank, you could give away over $300 in a year!” These are the habits of people who are great at saving money.

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With your credit card on file or easy swiping or tapping of a card, it’s so easy to make purchases that you may not even realize how much of a bill you’re racking up! Think of that smoothie you can just charge to your account after you finish your workout. “Merchants are not dumb—they’ve developed whole ecosystems and apps that keep your credit card on file and bring convenience to your life, but you pay for that convenience,” says Owen Malcolm, CFP, managing director of United Capital. “Whether it’s impulse buys through Amazon Prime or with Apple Pay, corporate America wants to do whatever it can to make it very easy for you to part with your money.” Watch out for these nearly invisible ways stores trick you into spending more.

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Only using credit/debit cards

Plastic cards don’t feel like money the same way cash does. “It’s so easy to swipe your cards!” says Harris, Jr. “Odds are you’ll end up making many more splurges throughout your days without noticing.” If you’re anti-cash for whatever reason, make sure you’re at least signed up for a good credit card rewards program.

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TV services

TV services like DirecTV and Comcast can be costly. “Often they’re over $100 a month, which depending on your package, is over $1,200 a year,” says David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks. “A better option is Netflix for about $10 a month or about $120 a year.” (Check out these awesome shows we bet you didn’t know are on Netflix). Or you can skip both and opt for a streaming device. “If you stick with strong Wi-Fi and use a streaming device such as AppleTV or Roku, you can easily cut your cable bill in half each month,” says Harris Jr.

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Ordering takeout

That cheesy pizza is affecting a lot more than your waistline. “Ordering Dominos Pizza once a week can be about $30 or $1,560 per year,” says Reiling. “Conversely, buying groceries for a meal in place of this to cook can be under $10 per meal for a family of four or $520 per year.” He underscores that the same thing applies for breakfast and coffee. “This can add up to $10 per day depending on your choices—that’s $3,650 per year! As an alternative, make a pot of coffee at home or even a K Cup Blend for under $0.50 per cup, and buy some eggs and bread for a quick and easy breakfast, which will cost you $365 per year or less.” You can also try these healthy breakfast ideas.

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In-game purchases

This is a classic case of being blindsided by small dollar amounts. “Those small in-app purchases start out small, often just $1 or $2, but they can quickly add up,” cautions Harris Jr. “Just one small in-app purchase a day, can take you over $400 in a year.”


Speedy shipping

While online shopping is exceedingly convenient, most of us want our items promptly and will pay extra for it, effectively wasting money. “Online stores know this, and they offer expedited shipping that can add $15 or more to your bill,” says Harris Jr. “Instead, go with the fastest free shipping offered. If you expedited just one or two package a month, you could spend over $200 extra in a year.” Check out these tips for saving money online.

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Lottery tickets

When those multi-state lottery games have prizes in the hundreds of millions of dollars, many of us shell out in pursuit of the dream of wealth. “The occasional ticket can be fun, but daily lottery habits quickly add up,” says Harris Jr. “Playing just $2 or $3 of lottery tickets on a daily basis—and many of the multi-state games have tickets that start at $5—can have you spending $1,000 or more.”

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Bottled water

It’s super-important to stay hydrated—and these genius tips can make it effortless to drink enough water—but that’s not license to buy bottled water by the case. “Bottled water costs 2,000 times as much as tap water and the average American spends $100 on bottled water every year, ” says personal finance expert Andrea Woroch. “Not only is bottled water a waste of money, but it’s an unnecessary addition to landfills, as U.S. citizens discard 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.” Instead, Woroch recommends buying an inexpensive, BPA-free reusable water bottle and keeping one at the office, in your gym bag, and at home so you always have one to refill.

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Taking Uber/Lyft

At this point services likes Uber and Lyft are ubiquitous. “According to SherpaShare, Uber drivers in the U.S. collected an average $13.36 per trip, while Lyft drivers took in an average of $12.53 for each ride,” says Woroch. Planning ahead can save you money. “For instance, research public transportation options in advance to figure out the best route and time to travel for a much lower cost. If it’s close enough to walk, leave a little earlier and get some exercise for free! Otherwise, coordinate ride shares with friends or coworkers to reduce transportation costs.” If you’re going to use a ride service, these are the uber hacks can save you money.


Name-brand medicine

Why pay a premium for name-brand medication when a less expensive generic is available? “You will find comfort knowing that the FDA requires that both prescription and over-the-counter generics be identical in dose, strength, safety, and efficacy,” says Woroch. And the generic versions can save you 30 to 50 percent. “If, for example, you are prescribed Zocor for high cholesterol, a monthly supply of the prescription name-brand drug will cost approximately $175, while the generic version will run you $70. Going generic will save $1,260 a year!” Asking these questions can help you save more on medication.



Not managing your bank balance can lead to bounced checks and annoying charges. “Spending upwards of $35 per overdraft is a colossal waste of cash and can usually be avoided with a little bit or research,” says Woroch. “Some banks offer services to protect you from these obnoxious fees.” For instance, she says, you may be able to link your checking account to your savings account so that in a pinch, money can be transferred, avoiding an overdraft. “Otherwise, ask that your debit card be declined in the event of insufficient funds. Ultimately, keeping track of what you have in your bank account is essential to avoiding this foolish mistake—just use your bank app! For someone who overdrafts every other month, you’re looking at saving $210 a month by managing your account better.” These are the money mistakes even financial experts have made—and how to avoid them.