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We all know that money doesn’t grow on trees, but that doesn’t stop people from acting like it does.  A recent survey found that Americans spend $483 a month on non-essentials.  Developing better spending habits can make it easier to save and reach your financial goals.  Here are some ways you may be throwing money away.

Carrying a balance on your credit cards

When it comes to credit cards, there are two things you need to remember, don’t charge more than you can afford and pay your full balance by the due date.  If you don’t follow the rules, you’ll be forced to pay interest on the unpaid amount.  Since the average APR is in the double digits, your balance can quickly grow out of control.  Most people have about four credit cards.  If you’re carrying a balance on multiple cards, the cheapest way to get out of debt is to start with the one that has the highest interest rate.

Losing money to ATM and overdraft fees

Fifty-four percent of consumers prefer to shop using their debit card.  If you’re one of those people, make sure you pay attention to your account balance.  If your purchase costs more than what’s available in your account, you’ll pay an overdraft fee which runs about $33.36 on average.  Using the wrong ATM can also eat away at your savings.  The average fee for using an out-of-network ATM is $4.72. 

Not taking advantage of cash back apps

Are you earning cash back on your purchases?  If the answer’s no, you’re missing out.  There are plenty of cash back apps on the market that will reward you for spending money at certain stores and restaurants.  Some apps ask that you buy a particular item and submit a receipt to get rewarded.  Others just want you to start your shopping trip through their app or link your credit card and shop as usual. 

Holding on to a gym membership you don’t use

We all want to look and feel our best, but it can be hard to drag yourself to the gym on a regular basis.  Reports show that 80 percent of Americans have a gym membership they don’t use.  The problem is you’re still paying for it.  If it’s been months since you’ve stepped foot in your gym, go ahead and cancel your membership.  You can always workout at home for free or find discounted fitness classes on Groupon.

Letting good food go to waste

About forty percent of food in the U.S. doesn’t get eaten.  Every time you toss out a carton of milk, a piece of fruit or a box of cereal, you’re losing money. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to reduce food waste. You can plan your meals, shop with a grocery list and eat your leftovers.  Other helpful tips include:

  • Making sure your fridge and freezer are set to the proper temperatures.
  • Learning the difference between the “sell by” and “best by” dates.
  • Knowing how to properly store fruits and vegetables so they last longer.
  • Donating any packaged items that you don’t plan on using.

Smoking cigarettes

Cigarette smoking has dropped to an all-time low, but nearly 1 out of 7 American adults still do it.  Aside from being pricey, cigarettes are bad for your health.  Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths claiming close to half a million lives per year.  You’re not just killing yourself either, you’re also hurting those around you.  More than 41,000 people die from being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Spending big bucks to file your taxes

If you have a basic tax situation, hiring a professional to do your taxes is a waste of money. You can save hundreds of dollars by preparing your return using tax software. With ezTaxReturn.com, you can file a simple federal return for FREE.  It’s fast, it’s easy, and you’ll get the biggest possible refund, guaranteed.