Don't waste your money: 19 things you shouldn't be spending your cash on

Always find yourself struggling for cash? Save by cutting out these unnecessary purchases and expenses.

Bottled water

British tap water is amongst the most highly regulated in the world, so the quality is reliably high.

Given that bottled water can be 1,000 times more expensive than tap water, it’s a wonder that a single bottle of it ever sells in the UK  let alone £2 billion worth of mineral water every year.

Bank fees

The key to free banking is to be honest with yourself about how you use your account, and then track down one offering what you need for free.

With banks providing everything from small overdrafts to overseas spending as freebies, there’s no need to pay fees as long as you choose carefully.

Books

There are people who love to line their walls with books. For everyone else, once you have bought one, you should be able to swap your way through an entire library of books without ever spending another penny.

There are plenty of book swapping sites online, like read it swap it. If you don't fancy that it’s straightforward to set up your own at work, and you’ll have a never-ending supply of second-hand books at no cost at all.

The Lottery

Statistically, the most likely outcome of playing the lottery in any one week simply involves losing £2. If you are keen on a flutter, you can have one risk-free with one of the many free lotteries out there

Wasted food

Wasted food costs the average household £470 a year  and families with children £700 a year.

There are three ways to avoid waste. First is planning: make a list of meals for the week before you go shopping.

Second is realism: don’t pile the trolley with salad unless your family will eat it.

Finally there’s vigilance: halfway through the week, revisit your fridge. If you’ve failed to eat what you thought, this is the time to start freezing.

A pedigree pet

A pedigree pet may be pretty, but it’s pricey. Before you reach for your wallet, therefore, it’s worth considering a rescue pet. Over 47,000 people abandon their pets every year, so there’s bound to be one that suits you in a rescue home somewhere around the UK.

Rescue animals may require some work to get them back on track, and you will need to find the animal to suit your home and your family, but you can get a much-loved family member for the price of a small donation.

Credit card interest

There’s no reason for anyone to pay interest on their credit card. There may not even be the need to pay a fee to transfer your balance to an interest-free card.

The only proviso is that this isn’t an excuse to run up more debt, it should be an opportunity to pay more of it back.

Anything in an airport

There’s a minority of people who genuinely forget something vital for their holiday, and have to pick it up at the airport. However, the vast majority of people in airport stores are killing time.

Many of us end up buying something on a whim as a result, so if you think you’ll be bored at the airport, it might be cheaper to take a book (you could even take one from a book swap).

Sat navs

It's a rapidly-dying technology: nowadays you can get smartphone can do as good a job of directing you around unfamiliar areas for free.

Brand name drugs

It may feel like you are getting better quality when you opt for a brand name, but instead you are paying for a combination of the research the company originally put into developing the drug, and the marketing and advertising it did to build up the brand.

If you buy the identical generic drug, you’ll get exactly the same product for a fraction of the price.

Service station food

We all know service stations can be overpriced, and yet occasionally we all stop off when our travel plans go awry.

If you pack emergency rations in the car, there’s never any reason to move beyond the free car park. And if you don’t have anything sensible to take with you, you can always come off the motorway, drive for five minutes, and find a cheaper alternative.

TV you don’t watch

Introductory deals, persuasive salespeople, and tempting bundles can leave us with TV channels we pay for but hardly ever watch.

It’s worth asking yourself once or twice a year whether you are getting value for money. If you only watch movies or sport a couple of times a month, it may be far more effective to buy a daily pass, or pay to download a single movie, rather than pay for a package.

In-app purchases

The financial model for most of the biggest app games over the last few years is to give away a free version and offer people the chance to make in-app purchases in order to speed up their progress or improve their experience of the game.

It’s very tempting, and once you start it’s difficult to stop, but it’s entirely unnecessary. Block in-app purchases and save yourself a fortune (especially if you have kids).

Full price clothes

Before you buy new clothes, you should be asking yourself three questions in order to avoid paying full price.

  • Are there any vouchers for this shop online?
  • Can I get cashback by using a cashback site or a credit card?
  • Can I wait for the sale?

You should save at least 5% this way – and if you have the patience to wait for the sale, you could save 70% or more.

Newspapers

There are plenty of traditionalists who love newsprint, but if you want to save money, you can get most of your news and features for free online.

If your favourite paper operates a paywall online, you may need to be flexible about where you get your news, but it may just offer the chance to find something that suits you better.

Women’s razors

A study earlier this year in New York found that women’s razors cost 11% more than men’s. Unless the woman in the household refuses to use any razor that isn’t pink, trade it for a men’s version, and shave a fortune off your razor costs.

Reclaiming PPI

There may be a host of incredibly pushy firms offering to reclaim your PPI before the deadline in return for a fee, but you really don’t need to spend money on this.

You can do it yourself, for nothing, using a letter template downloaded from the internet. It will take less than 15 minutes of your time and could save you hundreds of pounds.

Debt advice

You may not realise you are paying for this, because often companies will build their fee into the monthly sums you end up paying. However, in many cases, the costs involved in using a debt company are eye-watering.

A far better bet is to use a debt charity like StepChange, who will often offer a far broader range of solutions, without charging you a penny.

EHIC card

When you’re travelling in Europe, it’s worth having one of these cards, which demonstrate that you are entitled to the same free care in EU hospitals as the locals. If you get a form from the Post Office and send it off, you’ll get this card for free.

Similarly, you can access a form online and pay nothing for your card. The ‘services’ you need to steer clear of are the online firms that will charge you a fee to apply for your card – they’re most likely scammers.

Pre-sliced food

Unless you genuinely have difficulty using knives and graters, pre-sliced food is likely to save a couple of seconds of preparation time  and cost you a packet.

You have to ask just how much hassle it is to grate cheese or slice carrots.

Weight loss

If you’re blowing your cash on fitness fads, diet supplements, gadgets gathering dust in the cupboard and unused gym memberships, then you need to stop.

In most cases, moving marginally more and eating marginally less (or less unhealthily) will do the trick  and that doesn’t have to cost anything.

More money saving tips:

Aldi: 10 shopping hacks to save you even more

15 things you're wasting money on

Utility Warehouse: broadband, energy and mobile deals reviewed

Watch the latest family blockbusters for less 

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