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Household Money Wasters

Amanda Finn
Amanda Finn is a freelance writer based in Chicago. She largely writes about lifestyle and travel with a focus on making the most out of life and all it has to offer (without going over budget). When she isn't writing, she's spending quality time with her husband Kyle, her puggle Puggsley, and her two bunnies.
Updated on March 18, 2021
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Need to come into some extra cash fast? Cutting down on these expenses can be a creative way to find yourself with money to spare.

When it comes to cutting back, plenty of websites will tell you to buy generic products or turn off the lights if you aren’t using them, but there are plenty of other ways to save money you may never have heard before. From rainwater collecting to rethinking that pristine lawn, financial and budgeting experts alike put their minds to their best creative solutions for saving in their households.

Skip the dryer

Hang drying isn’t just for those clothes unfit for the harshness of the dryer. If you opt to skip a dry cycle with your laundry, you will save on utility costs while  being kinder to your clothes. According to home care blog The Spruce, hang drying your clothes can save upwards of $200 a year on utilities. Also, the cost of a clothesline is minor compared to any dryer repairs or purchases you may need to make.

Ditch Instant Delivery Services

Sure, Amazon Prime can be a great way to save time (and sometimes money) when online ordering, but how many things have you purchased online that you didn’t really need? Or forgotten to cancel an ongoing subscription to an item you no longer use? Maybe you aren’t actually saving on those free shipping costs.

“The ease of Amazon prime leads to compulsively ordering so much crap that you don’t need!” said personal finance blogger Dawn Holley. “Add in the transportation costs and packaging to ship one item at a time makes this an economical and environmental burden. I finally deleted the app from my phone and cancelled my membership. I spend less time on my phone, buy locally, and save a lot of money.”

Business Insider has a great list of reasons why Amazon Prime might be a good fit for your household budget, but if you are compulsively shopping, or don’t use it or its other benefits enough to offset the nearly $120 annual membership cost, it might be worth reconsidering your relationship.

Consolidating errands

Those weekly or biweekly grocery runs add up if you have to run back for the one thing you forgot to buy or didn’t put on the grocery list. Why not put your household lists together and tackle all the shopping at once? It will  save you time, energy, and gas costs by eliminating entirely separate trips later on.

“Anytime I ran out of laundry detergent, or cat food, or simply needed a distraction, I would drive to Target or the grocery store,” Holley said. “I found I was going somewhere just about every day of the week. When I finally sat down and started tracking my finances and created a budget, I realized this was costing me hundreds of dollars a month! In gas and impulse purchases I didn’t need, food waste that we didn’t eat, and the opportunity cost of not making better use of my time.”

Just like the old adage says: Don’t go grocery shopping hungry. Now the adage is: Don’t go shopping when you’re bored.

Say goodbye to coffee pods

Not only are coffee pods expensive, but their one-time usage is pretty terrible for the environment. Even the inventor of the single serve coffee pod was behind the “kill the K-cup” campaign online a few years ago. So, maybe it’s time to cut the single-use ties?

Personal finance blogger Bethany McCamish, thought so when she got rid of the little plastic cups, despite how much she loved using her machine.

“We used to have a Nespresso and it was really good coffee, but so wasteful and expensive,” she said. “Since we are coffee snobs, a normal coffee pot wouldn’t do. Instead we calculated how much it would cost to switch to an espresso machine. The upfront cost was high, but when we calculated the amount we spent a year on pods vs. beans, we saved so much money. The espresso machine still works amazingly and we get to have a cappuccino every morning.”

If you aren’t an espresso fan or are deeply in love with your pod machine, there is another great alternative: reusable pods.

Reusable pods can be filled with your favorite coffee and used over and over again. Not only are they a great alternative to the wasteful single use pods, they’re also much more economically feasible. According to an article from blog Smart Family Money, K-cups are four to nine times the cost of ground coffee per cup.

Even the difference between K-cups and ground coffee of the same brand  can be astronomical. So, if cutting costs is your game, cutting single-use coffee pods might be a good play.

Learn to say “no”

Being a parent is expensive enough, so what happens when your little one is old enough for extracurricular and those activities include something like cookie or popcorn selling? By the time your littles are old enough to sell for themselves, it’s certain you’ve encountered more than a handful of other little ones doing the same thing. So how do you survive the selling seasons?

Learn to say “no.”

“One of the biggest wasters of money is not being able to say ‘no,’” says financial counselor Laura Coleman. “I came up with [a list of] 24 creative ways to say ‘no’ when someone asks for money, because we tend to feel guilt and a sense of obligation when someone asks us for money. I’m truly a sucker for Girl Scout Cookies and my husband can’t say ‘no’ to discount cards from the schools.”

Coleman also gave another great tip to help enforce saying no: Go to the grocery store with your kiddos. You can certainly say “no” then, right?

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