Here’s what you may be wasting money on


Experts offer easy ways to put $500 or more back in your pocket

How are you when it comes to money? Are you the type of person who’s gone overboard and needs some debt relief, or are you just the average person who just wastes money on every day guilty pleasures like a $5 cup of coffee when you have coffee sitting in the cabinet at home?

If you’re the latter, have a seat. Some cost-saving experts would like to show you some tricks they use to keep more of their money in their pocket and not throw it down the proverbial toilet.

Let’s start with food and drink.

Natalie Warb, financial expert at CouponBirds said that one of the surprising things that American consumers are wasting money on is bottled water. She said that the water that we drink is often from a bottle that can range from $1-$5 – rather than from our own supply that costs next to nothing. 

How much would that put back in your pocket? The Water Project says $100 – and a hundred bucks could go a long way toward buying you something nice, right?

 “Similarly, paying to have food delivered from a restaurant that is within walking distance is another example of Americans essentially throwing money down the drain,” Warb added.

“Delivery costs can very quickly accumulate – especially when you factor in the driver’s tip – while a short 10-15 minute walk can help to save you money while also boosting your appetite.

Buying meds to go to sleep? For a cold?

Consumers are dropping more than $100 billion (yes, with a “b”) on sleep meds a year and, when it comes to coughs and colds, the average household drops $338 a year on syrups, drops, sprays, and pills to help them suffer less. If you use NyQuil for either one of those, Warb says you’re blowing money there, too.

“An example of a product that Americans waste money on is the antihistamine NyQuil. This product was first registered here in the States, and it has sold very well over the years as a treatment for seasonal colds and allergies, alongside as a sleep aid for those with insomnia.

“However, NyQuil is actually just a branded form of the drug Doxylamine, which is also available as an unbranded generic drug – often simply listed as a sleep aid – from most pharmacies at a much cheaper price,” she said.

How much cheaper? In ConsumerAffairs research, almost every cost comparison we saw said that, on average, the cost of generics is 80% to 85% less than brand-name drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter versions.

Are you throwing $175 away every month grocery shopping?

Okay, Mr. and Mrs. American Household, did you know you throw away around 40% of the food you buy at the grocery store? That’s about $175 a month.

Consumer and money saving expert Andrea Woroch told ConsumerAffairs that if you want $175 to stay in your pocket, then you should start planning your meals.

“Check your calendar to figure out which meals you need to plan for and look for recipes that use overlapping ingredients,” she advises. “When you're writing up your shopping list, cross-reference what you already have at home so you don't double up. It's also wise to limit how much fresh food you buy in bulk as these foods can spoil quickly.”

She also suggests skipping the checkout line where there’s a clerk and doing self-checkout as studies show people buy less on impulse this way. And think about paying for your groceries in cash!

Kendall Meade, a Financial Planner at SoFi, cited studies that have shown we are likely to spend less if we use cash vs. a credit card – “Because it is more painful to hand over the cash than to swipe your card,” she said.

And while we’re still in the money-saving aisle, “Don't forget to check for coupons through the grocery app and take pictures of your receipts when you're done shopping to earn cash back via apps like Fetch to earn points good towards free gift cards to Target and Walmart to save on future grocery needs,” she said. 

Regarding coupons, Woroch’s big on CouponCabin. “For example, you can get $30 off $75 with free shipping and 2.5% cash back at Vons [by using the site]," she said. When ConsumerAffairs looked at the site, there’s every single big brand in the grocery game doing the same – Albertsons, Krogers, Walmart, BJ’s, Costco, Food Lion, Giant, Jewel/Osco, Safeway, and more.

Take a Financial Relief Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.