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Wasting Money: 17 Things We're Mindlessly Spending Money On (PHOTOS)

17 Things We Keep Wasting Money On

If your weekend outings include last-minute city parking spots, overpriced drinks at bars or a few dollars wasted on ATM transactions, just remember, every little dime adds up.

"The typical Canadian has no idea how much money they spend," says Geoffrey Morgan, spokesperson for online money management website "Our users tell us they spend a lot of money eating out. [When users track expenses] at least 90 per cent of people change their financial habits and the biggest chunk, 50 per cent, spend less money eating out," he says.

So all those morning bagels and $10 sandwich combos are definitely taking their toll. Spending $10 a day on lunch can add up to $2,600 a year, while spending $2.75 on your favourite coffee can cost you $1,300 a year. When you look at the bigger number, your coffee probably doesn't taste as good.

And if you're worried about overspending, you should be. Since last year, the average Canadian household had $11 less spending power per month in February 2012, according to a recent study by Walmart Canada. The study, however, also found that Atlantic provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia saw an increase in spending power.

Story continues below: Buying lunch everyday? Buying 99 cent apps? How much is this costing you? We did the math:


17 Things We Spend Money On Mindlessly


Breaking bad spending habits can be difficult but not impossible, says Cynthia J. Kett, chartered accountant and certified financial planner of Stewart & Kett Financial Advisors Inc. in Toronto.

"Set yourself a weekly cash allowance, based on the items that you spend cash on regularly and that you consider a weekly priority. When you’re out of cash, you’re out! You’ve spent money on something that wasn’t a priority," she says.

Kett also recommends to ditch the car, buy transit passes and make sure you're debt-free before you spend money on yourself. "Instead of daily coffee, breakfasts and lunches, plan a special weekly meal with a favourite person. Also, home-created meals are generally healthier and more appealing than most fast food alternatives. Maybe you’ll become a foodie," she says.



Forget that sandwich at home? No, you were probably just too lazy to make your own lunch again. Spending at least $10 a day on a tasty lunch will cost you $50 a week and $2,600 a year.

TIPS: You can buy a fridge full of food for that price. Scheduling out your weekly lunches will help you prepare in advance. If you just don't like mornings, prepare extra dinner for lunch the night before.

Bottled Drinks

This is for anyone who's on the go and always ends up buying a bottle of water. A bottled drink for at least $2 will cost you $10 a week and $520 a year.

TIPS: Don't be picky. There is nothing wrong with reusable water bottles and tap water. If you're really scared of your city's finest water offering, use a filter at home or leave one at the office.


Just like our school days, but more expensive. People bet on anything from sports games to outcomes of reality television shows. If you're betting someone at least once a month at $10, it will cost you $120 for the year.

TIPS: Bets are fun, but you have to know your limit. Try "friendly" bets or see if you can pay someone back with a treat or an embarrassing dare.

Birthday Cards

It's always a good thing to remember someone's birthday, but you don't need to spend all that cash on birthday cards (or holiday, thank you and baby shower cards). Buying two cards at $6 a month will cost you $144 a year (and that's on the cheaper end of the scale).

TIPS: You can always get crafty and make your own cards ... or save the planet and send an e-card. See, everyone wins.


We all want minty fresh breath, but how many times have you overspent money on a pack of gum? Gum that costs $1.50 a week will cost you $70 in a year.

TIPS: In this case, quantity matters. Buy large packages of gum at Costco and the like -- you can save more buying five packs of gum at once as opposed to one at a time.


Magazines either give us an unique insight every month -- or sit decoratively on our coffee tables. Buying two magazines a month at $7 will cost you $168 a year.

TIPS: Instead of buying single magazines each month, opt for subscriptions or hit the library.


Most of us have probably been spending mindless dollars on alcohol since we've had our first cooler. And let's face it, when you're partying, the last thing you're doing is thinking about your bank balance. Spending at least $75 a week on alcohol will cost you $3,900 a year.

TIPS: As tough as it sounds, if you want to save money on alcohol, you have to limit your spending habits. Try a get-together at your house -- this way you can avoid spending money on overpriced drinks and paying tips.


Apps can be life's little helpers. They can find bus times and provide us with entertainment when we're bored -- but sometimes they're a waste of a dollar. If you buy one app a week for a dollar, it will cost you $52 a year.

TIPS: Try free apps or demos, depending on your provider.


Things just taste better when other people prepare them. Morning bagels, yogurts, and bacon and egg sandwiches may seem pretty cheap, but it can hurt your pockets in the long run. Spending $2 a day on bagels will cost you $520 a year.

TIPS: Try eating breakfast at home or store milk and cereal at your office.


Smoking is different for everyone. It can relieve stress, fall under peer pressure or it's an old habit we can't seem to give up. Buying a $10 pack per week will cost you $520 a year.

TIPS: Quitting is never easy, but tracking how often you smoke might help you cut down.


We all know those people who get cranky when they don't have their morning coffee. Yes, coffee can get addictive but it can also be pricey. If you spend at least $2.75 on a cup of joe a day, it will cost you $715 a year.

TIPS: Try brewing your own coffee at work -- it will save you a ton of pocket change.


Concerts, dance clubs and bar nights, what do they all have in common? They love charging us covers just to get in the front doors. Spending $30 a week on covers will cost you $1,560 a year.

TIPS: Again, just track your spending habits -- maybe you don't have to accept every invite you get.


It's a late night and you really don't feel like walking to the restaurant in your heels. Sound familiar? Paying extra cash for parking can cost you $1,040 a year, if you spend at least $20 a week.

TIPS: Try finding zones that have free parking hours or just grab a bus.

Plastic Bags

Some cities have started charging five cents for plastic bags, a smart way to make our communities more green. If you spend five cents a day on a bag for clothing items or groceries -- it's costing you $13 a year. Not much, but think about it, $13 on plastic!

TIPS: Go green! Buy a reusable bag.


Oh hey, that movie you've always wanted to see but never really wanted to spend the money on is now showing on pay-per-view. This is the kind of thinking that's still costing us tons. Spending $6 a week on movies that you are only somewhat interested in will cost you $312 a year.

TIPS: Renting movies at most video stores is still cheaper, or try finding alternative ways to make family time at home.


How many times have you paid the full fee for the bus because you didn't expect to have to take it, but then you were utterly late for your appointment? Spending (an average of) $2.50 a day for a bus will cost you $1,300 a year.

TIPS:If you can, bike or walk when you need to get somewhere. If you need to use the bus, figure out if buying a monthly pass is worth it.

Vending Machines

Most offices have them -- they stare at us and tempt us to insert our pocket change. Spending $1.50 (which seems harmless) on chips or candy will cost you $390 a year.

TIPS: Avoid the temptation, bring snacks from home.

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