You get to the point in life where you want to not just spend money, but save. MensHealth shares 8 products that will drain your cash. Having unused gift cards sitting in your wallet is a waste of money that you could be using on useful things as well. By selling those gift cards for cash you can clear out your wallet and get a little extra money.
1. Topping off Your Tank
Admit it: When you’re at the gas station, paying a nice, even $36 instead of $35.78 is more appealing. But continuing to fill your car after the gas nozzle clicks off is equivalent to throwing your change in the gutter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, those few extra drops will either get sucked back into the storage tanks, or evaporate in your car’s vapor collection system, causing it to run inefficiently and burn even more fuel. When a gallon of gas costs as much as a latte, stop filling your tank to the brim. After all, you’re already spending over $2,000 each year at the pump, according to AAA.
2. Cutting Your Grass Too Much
“The shorter you mow your lawn, the more work it takes to keep it looking good,” says Frank Rossi, associate professor of Turfgrass Science at Cornell University. A backyard with grass that’s only 1 inch long needs mowing every 5 days. But let it grow to 3 inches and your lawn needs tending only twice a month. What’s more, mowing shorter grass can actually weaken its root system, which can lead to drought, pests, weeds, and more expenses. Before you get to work, check that your mower’s blades are sharp. Hitting the stems with a dull metal requires more energy to make the cut, spiking your fuel bill by 25 to 30 percent. To save even more, leave grass clippings in your yard. When they decompose, you’ve got free fertilizer, Rossi says.
3. Eating Meat Every Day
Americans spend more than 20 percent of their grocery bill on meats, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s almost $800 each year. Instead of forking over $5 to $7 per pound for beef every week, consider occasionally swapping red meat for lentils. They cost less than $3 per pound, and you’ll still get almost as much muscle-building protein as in a sirloin. “Most Americans treat meat as the main course,” says Thomas Ngo, R.D., senior staff coach at Rise, a nutrition coaching app. “But vegetables and legumes should take the center stage on you plate. They’re lower in calories and loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants and heart-healthy fats that help lower cholesterol—not raise it.”
4. Ignoring Cracks
While you might want to blame this never-ending winter for your ridiculous energy bill, even mild weather can cause a spike in utilities if your house is filled with air leaks. Drafts can bump energy costs by 5 to 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Audit your home by checking doors, window frames, cable lines, and even electrical outlets for air flow, then caulk or weather-strip the offenders.
5. Paying for Apps and Songs
Almost a third of men spend impulsively on technology that includes gaming systems, apps, and songs, reports the National Endowment for Financial Education. Not surprisingly, Candy Crush Saga makes about $650,000 a day on premium features—and 40 percent of these contributions come from men, according to data from NewZoo, a market research firm in the games industry. Then there’s your music library, which probably contains at least a thousand songs, right? At $0.99 each—assuming you buy legally—your music collection is worth a luxe vacation.
“When you’re only spending a dollar here or there, it’s easy to justify the purchase,” says Meg Favreau, senior editor of financial website WiseBread.com. “It might not seem like much to buy extra moves for a game or the latest hit song, but if you spend a few bucks a week, you can end up spending over a $1,000 a year.” One solution: Sign up for a mobile streaming service like Spotify, which gives you unlimited access to over 20 million songs for just $10 a month.
6. Paying Bank Fees
Banks are bringing in $30 billion—that’s right,billion—in checking account fees. That means each time your minimum balance drops below $1,500, for example, your bank fills its pockets. You may be losing $12 to $25 each month for no good reason. “You can avoid the charge by setting up direct deposit,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for BankRate, an online aggregator of financial rate information. Having your employer wire as little as $250 to your account might void checking account fees—but read your bank’s policies for details to make sure. Credit unions and small community banks are likely to offer a no-strings-attached account, adds McBride. Shop around.
7. Disposable Products
Convenience has its price. While a kitchen without paper towels may seem crazy—at first—it can save you at least $300 a year, assuming you buy one roll a week. Nix plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, and other disposable supplies and you might just end up with a grand to spare. Dish rags and storage containers are reusable, so you’ll get your money’s worth. And if you’re really thrifty, cut up old T-shirts and re-purpose plastic takeout containers.
8. Neglecting Home Maintenance
Draining the hot water heater or sealing your deck isn’t the most exciting way to spend a weekend. But blowing off up-keep chores will blast your budget. “A typical hot water heater might last 10 years, but one that is not flushed at least once every 6 months can break after 4 or 5 years,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a home management site that offers a home maintenance schedule that syncs to your calendar.