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The dumbest wastes of money

By on April 11, 2009

wedding flowers
photo by gadl

You make money. You spend money. And hopefully, you save money, too. It can be tough to eliminate unnecessary spending. Many products, activities and services become a part of your life. The fact is that you probably don’t want to let go of any of them. But when the choice is between these comforts and conveniences and your financial health, it’s time to make the best decisions and not cling to the very things that keep you from debt-free living and a healthy savings. Each person has his or her own opinion on what they simply won’t give up. It’s not that they can’t. They simply don’t want to.

Regardless of where you fall on the frugality spectrum, there’s always something you can do to improve your financial future and be less wasteful. You make many choices each and every day. And they are most definitely yours to make and no one else’s business. But why not consider making some green and frugal decisions? Frugal people can identify wastefulness with an eagle’s eye. I asked members and compiled the most popular items they considered to be the dumbest wastes of money.

WEDDINGS: There are many decisions to make when getting married, but you end up just as happy or miserable whether you spend $50 or $50,000. Regardless of who is paying for it and whether you can afford it, green weddings are gaining popularity. What makes it different? People have recognized how much waste is produced by a major celebration and want to do their part to minimize it. Consideration is made in the areas of length of transportation required, using homegrown or locally grown flowers, paring down the gift registry, and placing an emphasis on accepting donations and giving food donations after the reception, to name a few. You can visit Changing the Present (, a Web site that allows the future bride and groom to fill out a registry and let friends and family know that they welcome gifts donated in their name. Another Web site, Portovert (, was praised recently as the No. 1 green-wedding site by Martha Stewart Weddings. It offers a wedding guide that lists green and sustainable vendors for your wedding-planning needs.

LENDING MONEY: Don’t do it. Most of the time, you’ll never see it again.

VEHICLES: Most readers surveyed shared that large or luxury cars were the most wasteful item they could identify. Equally as dumb was buying these vehicles brand-new. While not everyone advocated smaller used cars as a solution, most mentioned how often large cars were driven by one person without fellow passengers. That seems judgmental, but it’s still enormously wasteful.

BAD HABITS: From sodas and junk food to alcohol and cigarettes, stop the madness! These items are expensive and bad for your health. One reader, Danielle in New Jersey, says: “I don’t drink, so I don’t understand why anyone would pay $4.50-plus per drink when they go out. Expensive habit!”

CASINOS: Gambling hard-earned money is foolish. The odds are against you. Even if you only occasionally buy a lottery ticket or go to a casino once a year, you could be saving that money. It adds up quickly.

TICKETS: Being a good driver saves you a lot of money. Pay attention, and drive safely. Fines cost hundreds of dollars, and they’re avoidable.

What do you think are the dumbest wastes of money?


  1. marie

    4/14/2009 at 4:50 pm

    Here lately, I believe the dumbest waste of money for me, is paying my union dues. I pay out every month in dues, and the only thing I saw the union do was give me a 60 cent raise in the last year in a half.( which goes to pay my dues) I am stuck with this, if I want to work were I work.

  2. margaret

    4/21/2009 at 8:27 pm

    Expensive medical procedures for pets. I love my dogs, but if one were to get cancer, it would be time to say goodbye. To spend thousands of dollars on a pet whose life span is not that long to begin with is a shame, especially considering how many healthy animals waiting for adoption are put down each year.

  3. Sara Noel

    4/21/2009 at 8:35 pm

    I was thinking vending machines are a big waste of money, too. Yikes.

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