11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

Man holding an empty wallet
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com

We all know how easy it is to blow money on a big purchase. Buy an expensive home or car, and you soon might regret it.

But it’s also easy to lose gobs of money a little at a time. That’s true whether you live paycheck to paycheck or you have money to burn.

Here are some budget busters that may be quietly draining your wallet.

1. Spending on phony emergencies

Chocolates
ninikas / Shutterstock.com

A real emergency isn’t so quiet. In fact, a layoff, unexpected medical bill or car breakdown tends to announce itself rudely and loudly.

But other so-called emergencies — like that oh-so-cute, on-sale bedding set for the kids, or that gotta-have-it-now bar of chocolate — are really just “wants” masquerading as needs.

Save the spending for real emergencies. And to make sure such events don’t derail your finances, read “9 Tips for Starting an Emergency Fund Today.”

2. Buying the ‘latest and greatest’ of anything

WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com

Are you a gadget junkie? Maybe you have to have the latest and greatest iPhone or tablet. Such spending sprees are hazardous to your financial health. In many cases, you’d be better served by buying used or refurbished.

That is even true on big purchases, such as homes. As we have written, older homes often are constructed better than new homes. However, if something vintage makes you nervous, consider buying something nearly new:

“If you love the idea of new construction, remember that an existing home doesn’t necessarily have to be 50 years old. If you want an energy-efficient home with new amenities, you can probably find it at a lower price if you’re willing to be owner No. 2 or 3.”

For more tips like that, check out “You Should Never Buy These 12 Things New.”

3. Piling groceries into your cart

Stokkete / Shutterstock.com

It’s so easy to head to the store with a few things in mind, but end up spending $100 or more. That’s where discipline comes in.

Use a meal planner so you are buying what you really need, instead of grabbing whatever you desire at that moment. And don’t forget your coupons.

Never head to the store hungry, or you will be tempted to leave with every item that whets your mental appetite. For more tips on saving at the grocery store, check out “19 Things You Should Never Buy at a Grocery Store.”

4. Dining out too often

eating out
Ruslan Guzov / Shutterstock.com

Eating out is one of the most insidious ways to bleed your wallet. It’s even worse if you spend hundreds of dollars at the grocery store each month, only to end up dining out more than you actually cook.

Office lunch dates can put another hole in your finances, especially if they become part of your daily routine. So, make dining out an occasional treat.

5. Living the high life with your friends

dining
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Once the pandemic ends, chances are you won’t be able to resist heading out with your friends for a well-deserved night of fun.

But that might be a problem if your bank account is on the brink of going into the red.

Be wise and say no. Even if you have to make up a lame excuse, it’s worth it to salvage your budget. Or, convince your friends that you can have fun more frugally.

6. Planning expensive vacations

Woman traveler
Look Studio / Shutterstock.com

There is nothing wrong with heading out of town for the weekend or even planning an extended excursion. But when you’re already struggling to make ends meet, it is not the time to splurge on five-star hotels and first-class flights.

Instead, plan vacations in a way that minimizes costs — such as being flexible with your travel dates. As we point out in “11 Smart Ways to Save on Travel“:

“One of the best ways to save money on travel is to go when prices are lowest. There are cheaper days to fly, with Tuesday and Wednesday flights appearing to be the biggest bargains.”

7. Splurging on clothes

SciencePhoto / Shutterstock.com

Those new heels you’ve been coveting have finally gone on clearance. But if your budget says no, it’s wise to leave them at the store.

Numerous studies have shown that material purchases do not make us happy for long. Instead, we get more satisfaction from spending on experiences.

8. Pampering sessions

Woman and man in spa
Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

While your body may need a little TLC from time to time, heading to the spa or hair salon once a week has the potential to inflict serious damage on your savings.

So, why not bring the spa to your home for a fraction of the price? You’ll find plenty of items in stores and online that will allow you to replicate the spa experience at home.

9. Cable

bbernard / Shutterstock.com

Instead of signing up for the most expensive plan, try basic cable. Or even better, cut cable altogether and go for much cheaper alternatives, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.

For more on watching TV on a budget, check out “13 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less.”

10. Gym memberships

Podushko Alexander / Shutterstock.com

Being healthy and fit is important, but spending way too much money to reach your fitness goals makes no sense.

Ditch the gym and search for inexpensive or free activities at your community recreation center instead. Or try the great outdoors; a little fresh air won’t hurt, especially during a pandemic.

11. Housing

LightField Studios / Shutterstock.com

It is easy to drastically underestimate the monthly costs associated with that new home or apartment.

Before you apply for a mortgage or lease, use an affordability calculator to gauge what you can realistically contribute toward housing expenses each month.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses
How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses

Major expenses are difficult to predict, but there are ways to make sure you’re protected.

7 Ways Anyone Can Cut Their Health Care Costs
7 Ways Anyone Can Cut Their Health Care Costs

Here’s how to lower your medical expenses without skimping on care.

This Pastime Can Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age
This Pastime Can Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age

It’s never too late to benefit from taking up this type of activity.

This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance
This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance

If you wait too long to apply for coverage, you could be denied. So, when’s the sweet spot to apply?

6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify
6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify

Here’s how you can lend to startup businesses, fund social causes or get in on investments once available only to the very rich.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.