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9 Ways You're Wasting Money That You Don't Even Realize

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Did you start your new year with the hopes of saving a few extra bucks? Whether you're trying to balance your budget, put some extra cash away for a rainy day or save for a big trip, saving money is a goal that most of us can relate to.

While we may be trying to cut back on spending, using coupons or taking on another job to boost our income, there are places you're probably wasting money that you don't even realize.

Here are some common bad habits that really end up costing you.

1. Going Out To Eat

When you're budgeting your food costs, how much goes to restaurants and fast food chains, versus grocery stores? As it turns out, American consumers tend to spend more money on prepared food then they do at the supermarket because it's easier to avoid cooking.

If you are looking for some motivation to get into the kitchen, it's time to do the math! If you spend $10 per meal, once a day (averaging the cost of fast food and a sit-down meal), you're spending $3,650 per year. Instead, if you replaced those meals with something prepared at home for an average cost of $3, you will save well over $2,500 each year AND it will be a much healthier choice.

2. Buying Coffee

While it's nice to meet a friend at a local coffee shop on occasion, buying coffee every day can be a serious drain on your bank account. Instead try making your coffee at home and putting it in a travel mug for your trip to work. Also, take advantage of free coffee where you can, such as at work. You can even pick up a fancy creamer to make your boring cup of coffee taste like it came from a gourmet shop.

If you add it up, that's where it makes a huge difference. Three lattes a week comes up to a whopping $460 on coffee, compared to 18 cents per cup when you brew at home at an annual cost of $28.

3. Throwing out food before it expires

Americans waste a ton of food each year- 33 million tons to be exact. And it's getting worse. The average household wastes 50 percent more than a family in the 1970s. The typical American family ends up throwing away $2,275 in wasted food each year.

Why are we wasting so much food and money?

Grabbing easy meals instead of using the fresh produce in your fridge is one reason. Before you head to the supermarket, make a list as well as a meal plan and stick to it. That way you are only buying exactly what you will consume.

Also, don't assume your food is spoiled just by looking at the expiry date on the package. Many foods will continue to keep for days after the posted expiration, if they are properly stored.

Don't forget the power of your freezer. If you are running out of time before your food goes bad, pop it into your freezer to use it later.

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