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Top 6 Mindless Money Wasters

by J. Money on Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Do you want to guess what these money wasters are before reading? You probably fall for at least half of them, I know I do :) Found these over at Free Money Finance, who found them over at Yahoo, and couldn’t help but chime in here. Y’all know I love this stuff.

Someone’s list of the Top 6 Mindless Money Wasters:

  1. Convenience Stores – I am a SUCKER for these. I don’t know what it is about 7-Elevens and gas stations, but I cannot go in there and avoid spending money! It’s like they rounded up the best of the goodies and put them all in one spot – Slurpees, beef jerkies, coffees, lottos – LOVE! Very hard to resist (which is why you should avoid ‘em like the H1N1 (remember that?)).
  2. Cell Phone Plans – Got me again! Damn iPhone and its damn convenience ;) But as I’ve mentioned before, the extra $30-$40/mo is totally worth it to me. Don’t wanna cut this out.
  3. Soft Drinks – Success! I’ve been doing pretty well in this category ever since giving it up for Lent 3 years ago. Only drink it on the weekends, and we get a super-duper pack from the grocery store whenever they go on sale – it lasts months now.
  4. Unnecessary Bank Fees – Oh hell no. I don’t do bank fees very well…not to say I never mess up, cuz I do!, but just that I have no qualms calling up good ol’ USAA and getting it worked out ;) When you have a decent record you can get away with a bit more.
  5. Magazines – Hmm….yeah, I probably pay my fair share here. I’m signed up to 5 that cost around $75 a year (Money, Kiplingers, Smart Money, Fortune, and This Old House). Well worth it for the information, and keen on my eyes during daily work commutes.
  6. Annual Credit Card Fees – Neverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I don’t see the point in these unless you run some company that saves you a lot more in return (although that Black Card is pretty sexy).

So yeah, nothing too shocking with these money wasters, but it’s always cool to check in and see if there’s room for improvement. Or rather, if you DESIRE to make any improvements I should say ;) How do you guys fare with these?


{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Philip March 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Not much of a list in my opinion, at least not for the PF group. I've got my iPhone but don't consider it too much of a money waster considering how much I use it. Then I have a couple magazine subscriptions for hobbies, come on $20/year for the amount of information/time that I get outta those is super cheap!

How about throwing out going to the movies or renting movies or fast food. Where are cigarettes on the list? Talk about burning your money!

Bet we could come up with a better list.

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2 Investing Newbie March 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm

1. Convenience Stores – CVS is my crack. Especially since it is right around the corner from me. But I've started to limit going there unless I really need something. That means no browsing the aisles just because its Sunday and a new circular came out.

2. Cell Phone Plans – I'm with you on the iPhone. It's so worth it. I may or may not be downgrading to a BB sans plan though. Hmm…

3. Soft Drinks – So I don't drink soda or juice. My parents pretty much ruined me as a child and I actually like the taste of water. It's awful.

4. Unnecessary Bank Fees – Yeah, I avoid bank fees like the H1N1, so I'm dont know nuthin bout that.

5. Magazines – You are killing the environment. Read those babies online! I do have one subscription to Marie Claire and it was $8 for the year. I also look for free subscriptions to the big names like Forbes. I've gotten Forbes free for the past two years. Just gotta look.

6. Annual Credit Card fees: Apparently my only criteria when searching for a card (which is why I have seven!) LOL.

If I could add to this list I would agree with renting movies/NETFLIX and/or fast food.

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3 Matt Jabs March 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I am so glad I belong to ING Direct now… haven't paid a bank fee since! I suppose that probably has just as much to do with my responsible behavior as it does their lack of fees, but yeah – bank fees are the absolute worst.

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4 Ariella March 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm

RE#1 I usually avoid convenience stores. And I am fully capable of buying on the bottle of milk I came into the SevenEleven for. It is harder to resist the $1 and $2 items right at the entrance of Target.

RE #2 not all tempting for me. I just want my cell phone to make and receive calls — nothing else. I check emails etc. at my desktop.

RE #3 I have to be feeling really desperate to buy a single serve soda for the price of a 2 liter bottle in the supermarket. I am more likely to give into temptation for a hot coffee if I am cold or an ice coffee if I feel a need for caffeine and sugar boost.

RE#4 I avoid. I recall a woman going to the ATM and remarking on the fact that she was spending $2 to get $20 out.

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5 Patrenia March 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

#1 – Convenience stores – I stop for gas only.
#2 – Cell phone. Sorry. I gotta have my Iphone to access the internet…I'm a blogger now :-)
#3 – Soft drinks – I always buy them on sale. Doesn't that help?
#4 – Bank Fees – I'm part of a credit union. They pay me to use my money.
#5 – Magazines – I don't have time to read them anyway.
#6 – Annual credit card fees – I don't think so. Too many options without the fee and I don't use it anyways.

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6 rebmoti March 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Don't do the iPhone thing, in fact I posted on it: http://jewishsimplicity.blogspot.com/2010/02/technology-1-smart-phone.html

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7 Red March 3, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Wow! I'm feeling pretty good about myself after reading those! The only one I even "fall for" is the cell phone plan. But I'm confused. Does it mean any cell phone plan or ones specifically with data plans? The only "extra" I have on my phone is $10 per month for unlimited texting, but I have the lowest of possible minute plans (because all of my family and friends are on Verizon which has free mobile-to-mobile).

I've never paid for a magazine subscription, rarely go into convenience stores, have no credit cards, don't do bank fees, and very, very, very rarely buy soda. I've stopped picking it up on the weekends (It's bad for you!), but I do drink it at the office where it's free! :)

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8 Lory March 3, 2010 at 6:59 pm

you can find really good deals on magazine subscriptions on amazon. i found one of my favorite magazines (not personal finance related) for $5/year.

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9 LindyMint March 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm

They don't have mine – (whisper) Starbucks

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10 ctreit March 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I couldn't guess them because I can't identify with any one of them. My only problem may be with the cell phone plan, but we have a pretty basic family plan and we think we use it very well. We are thinking about going as far as canceling our mainline. Yet, I think that we might be able to get a better plan, but the hassle to find it is not worth it to me.

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11 TP March 3, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I love heading into a convenience store for some munchies and a coke. Its my crutch. I travel a fair amount for sales in my car. So I will spend 24 hours in my car over three days. That is a lot gas stops. Those twizzlers always call my name! What I do now is go to target and buy the amount of pop I would drink on the road. Saving me lots of cash.

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12 Yana March 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm

# Convenience Stores – I go to 7-11 once or twice a month to buy cartons of cigarettes, because they have the lowest price locally. I have never bought anything else there while buying cigarettes. Though when my daughter was a child, we went there for slurpees. I've never seen a reason to spend on things we didn't go there for, because I buy groceries at the lowest price possible – and 7-11 doesn't fit the bill for that or for selection.

# Cell Phone Plans – We have 3 prepaid cellphones, 2 with PagePlus Cellular and 1 with STi Mobile. The monthly cost of all of them combined is less than $30 monthly.

# Soft Drinks – My husband drinks those away from home, like at work and restaurants when we go out. We don't buy them to have at home.

# Unnecessary Bank Fees – We pay no bank fees. Years ago, we had to keep a balance of $500 in checking to keep the account free. Alas, we fell on hard times and couldn't keep it. I had the first fee waived, and signed up for direct deposit to avoid any further fees. We'd resisted that step, but like direct deposit now.

# Annual Credit Card Fees – We each did that once years ago to establish credit through Capital One. Once we started getting credit card offers, we cancelled those cards and never again took a card that charged a fee.

There are other ways to waste money! But that's not what you asked ;)

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13 fallingintofavor March 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Magazines!!! They got me. I bought some shoes from Steve Madden & I got a year free subscription from Lucky mag and Shape. A year later I'm hooked and paying for a subscription. That's a smart marketing plan there. Usually I'd just glance through magazines at the checkout line.

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14 Anonymous March 3, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Car washes…at 20 bucks compared to me doing it myself at for 2 bucks. I'm damn lazy when it comes to washing my cars and they truly do a good job making my ride sparkle inside and out :)

-StackingCash until I blow it on a car wash.

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15 Anonymous March 3, 2010 at 11:40 pm

1. Convenience Stores: Haha this one was quite funny, but I do not have to avoid them. I actually have a lot of convenience stores in my neighborhood, but I am never tempted to buy anything :D

2. Cell Phone Plans: I find them expensive also, I use an iPhone without text or internet. Yes you may ask what's the point, but I love the music player (ipod) integration, the applications store, and how it looks. Plus I never really text message, it distracts people, and it's hard for me to browse the internet on the phone.

3. Soft Drinks: I never drink soda, so even if these things were cheap or on sale, I never buy them. Not only is it a waste of money to me, but I was never able to finish a can or a small cup of soda, so the carbon would fly out and it would be flat.. to me, flat soda is gross. I guess it could be a money saver considering my sister loves flat soda, but I would rather stay away from soft drinks and juice.

4. Unnecessary Bank Fees: I don't have a bank account so I don't know yet :P

5. Magazines: I kind of realized these got expensive. Indeed, a few years ago, I was tempted to subscribe to Seventeen magazine, but I didn't. It's not much of a loss to me. Plus, magazines like the ones I used to read just tempts people to think they need more in their life.. like designer handbags and a matching outfit from Abercrombie & Fitch or something.

6. Annual Credit Card Fees: I don't have a credit card, but I have read and seen how this could be rather annoying and how it leeches people of their cash. Either ways, credit cards and bank fees and their ways of taking advantage of people are quite sneaky.

Thanks for sharing :)

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16 thoughtsonthereallife March 4, 2010 at 12:46 am

Thanks for being real with us J. Money.

To be honest, I think I'm doing pretty good in these arenas. I have my own mindless money wasters but concerning these…

1. Convenience stores. I've received the revelation of how much is overpriced in there so I just stay out. I don't drink soda so that isn't a temptation. PAY AT THE PUMP is the best way to keep me out. What a good invention.

2. Cell phone plans. I'm lucky that I am on a plan that an employee was able to give out at a really cheap price. I'm paying $30 a month right now for unlimited data and soon I'll only be paying $20 a month. But regardless of the price–unlimited text and data is WELL worth it.

3. Soft drinks. I try to stay away for both my health and my wallet. I do pretty well. Water is always a good route to go (and out of the tap. ;-)

4. Unnecessary bank fees. I bank with a credit union so there fees are very minimal and I don't have any regular fees at all. And with online banking and some discipline and such I never overdraft. =)

5. Magazines. I read mainly online so I have no magazine subscriptions and aim to keep it this way. Every now and then I'll buy one to decorate the livin place. ;-)

6. Annual Credit Card Fees. Yes, this is a mindless money waster. And I don't have one. =)

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17 Kevin March 4, 2010 at 1:08 am

#1: Convenience Stores – I generally try and stay out of these. If I do end up going in, I will almost always end up buying a one liter bottle of diet coke — which is a horrible deal.

#2: Cell Phone Plans – Family plans are nice. My total share works out to $35/mo and I use it for my home phone as well.

3: Soft Drinks – My worst offense on this list. I am totally a diet cola-holic.

4: Unnecessary Bank Fees – Very rare. It's been years since I had one and I've generally been very successful at getting them reversed when they happened.

5: Magazines – Stopped subscribing years ago when I realized that I never read them.

6: Annual Credit Card Fees – This is a deal-breaker for me. I won't tolerate an annual fee. I'd take the hit to my credit report and close the card, if any of them added it.

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18 youngandthrifty March 4, 2010 at 3:17 am

I'm planning to get an iPhone in June and I totally think the extra money for data is worth it. Especially since you can deduct the data portion for your blog on taxes, right? =)

I subscribe to my magazine (Money Sense) with my Air Miles (I think it only cost about 175 Miles?), but not sure if all the magazines you have listed are on the Air Miles Reward program.

Annual Credit Card Fees- I'm a no fee credit card person myself, but i DO agree that the black credit cards are really sexy. Pull one of THOSE baby's out and I'm sure the waitress or bartender will be all over you. LOL.

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19 donkee March 4, 2010 at 4:21 am

1. Convenience Stores – we have our bodegas here – which are smaller convenience stores, the only 7-Eleven I ever see is when I visit my folks in LI. I don't walk into the bodegas too much except for last minute milk, or a random lotto ticket. So all in all, I might go in and spend a few bucks once every month or so.

2. Cell Phone Plans – not sure what I spend here as the husband and i are on the family plan. I don't have an iphone, but one might be forced on me soon against my will (when the husband upgrades his to the next generation, he force his on me).

3. Soft Drinks – we don't drink soda…just don't like them…too sweet…maybe just once in a while. did you hear about the potential soda tax? or is it just here in ny?

4. Unnecessary Bank Fees – I get caught here a lot, although I try not to. It's all the ATM fees. I try to take out $200 at a time, so I don't have to go the bank as often.

5. Magazines – none…all online :)

6. Annual Credit Card Fees – I have one that costs $35/year. I want to cxl it, but won't because it'll lower my overall available credit and I don't want to do that!

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20 MD @ Studenomics March 4, 2010 at 4:22 am

Screw soft drinks. The only time I drink a Coke or something is to mix it with my rum.

Cell phone plan- guilty of this. I'm in the same boat as you. My iPhone plan definitely brings up my monthly overhead. On the plus side– it helps me a kill A LOT of time. So it's not all bad.

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21 Heather March 4, 2010 at 4:22 am

1. I never go into convenience stores. Every now and then when I can't afford Starbucks or if I'm in a hurry, I'll swing into the one right by my work to grab a cheap $1.39 coffee. It's definitely not Starbucks, but it serves it's purpose.

2. I have an iPhone and I wouldn't have it any other way. I have so many AWESOME finance apps that I can't live without like Bill Tracker, Accounts, the USAA app, etc.

3. I don't drink soda. NEVER. I gave it up years ago. I'm an H2O girl all the way.

4. I'm a lucky member of USAA, so I have no bank fees. :) I never put up with bank fees prior to USAA anyway.

5. I have a subscription to Allure which is like $12 a year. I also got mixed up into a $65 a year subscription to Us Weekly Magazine a few years ago when I made a purchase at Best Buy. It was free the first year and I forgot to cancel after the first year. So I've kept it for the last two years, but I'll probably cancel it at the end of this year.

6. I have an AMEX card that is supposed to have a $100 annual fee, but they haven't charged me yet for this year. I've paid the annual every year, but I'm too tight to manage it this year, so if they charge me this year, then I'll call to get them to waive it or I'll cancel the card.

So, I could cut out the Us Weekly subscription and make sure I don't get another annual fee from AMEX. But that's about it. Starbucks is probably my only other weakness.

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22 Abigail March 4, 2010 at 4:35 am

1. Convenience stores: The only problem is avoiding the temptations of a slurpee. Otherwise the prices are just too steep.

2. Cell Phone: Well, currently lost my phone, but we tagged onto my mom's calling plan for $10 each a line. So it's actually cheaper just wait out the contract than to get a phone. When I do have it, I don't have data. I'm almost always at home, so I don't really worry about keeping a connection going.

3. We finally killed Tim's 2-liter a day habit. (Yes, 2 liters.) which has saved us a LOT. At least $15 a month to be precise. I just never developed a taste for soda. I'll have some occasionally, but usually only if we're out seeing a movie. (In which case, we have free drink coupons that come with our free movie tickets from Coke Rewards.)

4. We're working on this one. Between the two of us, our health can sometimes keep us from paying as much attention as we should. So we'll probably never be safe from overdrafts. But we attached our credit card to our bank account. Which means we pay $10 when we overdraft instead of $35. And now that the CARD act has come into play, I am planning on requesting they just get rid of overdraft protection altogether and reject our card if we don't have the money.

5. I get one magazine subscription, which I bought with rewards program points. And I would hope, as a blogger, that you are remembering to deduct the money mags as a business expense. To do your blog, you need to keep up with recent events. (Also, if you're buying through Magazines.com, I hope you are signed up to Ebates or Mr. Rebates so you can get some $$ back when you buy.)

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23 Jason @ MyMoneyMinute March 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Magazine subscriptions can be pretty cheap from online sources. I got The Economist for like $8/year, and a free year of Forbes.

Soft drinks are my money pit. We'd have a 20% lower restaurant budget if I'd order water more often.

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24 Simple in France March 4, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I would argue that junk food of any kind is a big fat waste. And magazine subscriptions too–you are basically paying for the advertising you're consuming when you read the magazine. Crazy.

And annual credit card fees are a waste of money, but even worse is running a balance on your card and paying interest.

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25 Clark March 5, 2010 at 6:29 am

vacations for me…i'll search for weeks for cheap airfare, hotel and car rentals but once i'm there i think nothing of a $24 buffet breakfast, $11 mixed drinks, valet parking, etc. gotta work on that!

slightly off topic since the kiplingers subscription was mentioned…did you see in the last issue that fortune magazine predicted the 10 best stocks to hold for a decade? only one stock went up in value and overall the stocks lost 44% vs 245 for the s+p. summary: buy and forget ain't what it used to be…

http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/discovering/archives/buy-and-hold-is-risky.html

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26 Forest Parks March 5, 2010 at 11:57 am

Candy Bars and Soft Drinks are weak spots for me!! Luckily I use a pay as you go phone so it helps me to not use it… More expensive per call but cheaper in the long run.

Thanks.
Forest.
http://frugalzeitgeist.com

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27 Money Reasons March 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

#3, Soft Drinks use to be a big expense for me, until I started buying the lipton tea single packets (10 in a box for $2.00) and Wyler lemonade packets ($1.00 for 8)

Wyler is cheaper, but the Lipton tea has health benefits! So I drink more Lipton than Wyler… I blogged about it on my site… But honestly, what I've said summarized most of what was on my blog about this topic…

I even economize further by splitting the packet content in half per glass of water. I think I figured it run me between .06 to .10 cents per glass, much cheaper than the vending machine pop I was buying at work a few years back (what is that now .75 to 1.10?)

Nice post!

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28 J. Money March 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm

It was great reading through all of your comments!!! Fun to see how different/similar we all are :)

@Philip – Yeah, good point….maybe I'll create the next one and include all the "partying" vices – cigs, alcohol, bar covers, haha… good idea ;)
@Investing Newbie – No way, I LOVE my magazines in "real life!" Much better on my eyes and I like pretty pictures and being able to store them in my Blog Lair. haha….
@Matt Jabs – ING is awesome no doubt about it.
@Ariella – Yeah, when I used to have ATM fees (yearrrrrrs ago) I'd take out big chunks at a time or it just wasn't worth it (like $60-$100)
@Patrenia – Yeah Bloggers!!! We *need* the iphon, haha…and LOVE your quote – "I'm part of a credit union. They pay me to use my money." going to tweet it after I post this ;)
@rebmoti – I used to not want one either, but then life got too crazy for me…
@Red – Probably referring to just cell phone plans in general – they're pretty expensive if you think about how much we spend on them every month :)
@Lory – Do you know if you can resubscribe via Amazon too? I always fall for their direct-mail trap cuz I never want them to run out!
@LindyMint – Haha….indeed.
@ctreit – For sure, changing around some of this stuff is a pretty big hassle….guess we pay for that ;)
@TP – LOVE twizzlers! I always forget about them for some reason though?
@Yana – WOW – $30 total for all phones???? Your are pimpin' those savings! Multiply that by 4 for just MY phone! haha…
@fallingintofavor – Marketers get us every time ;)
@StackingCash – Hah! I don't blame you when it's cold though, only when it's nice and sunny out ;)
@Anonymous – You don't have a bank account? OR credit card? wow I thought your kinds were extinct! haha…..if you ever see this message, shoot me an email – would love to hear your perspective on things :)
@thoughtsonthereallife – Hey that's what I'm hear for! The "personal" part of finances, right? :) Love your Pay At The Pump idea, so very true.
@Kevin – Oh yeah, used to be sucked into Diet Coke like crazy….i think it still does have some trace of crack in it!
@youngandthrifty – You know, hadn't thought about it like that. I wonder if I could deduct portions of it because of the blog? (writing this down to ask my accountant!) thanks.
@donkee – I had to force my wife too :) But now she loves it! Saves her lots of time.
@MD @ Studenomics – Mmmm…I could go for some rum and cokes right now actually….it's almost noon!
@Heather – Look at you rockin' it ;) Gotta love USAA, right?
@Abigail – 2 Liters!!! Danggg….that's quite an accomplishment, well done.
@Jason @ MyMoneyMinute – That is hard to do :) I'm getting better at ordering water, but when I'm in the mood for something I go to the ol' Iced Tea which still costs the same as soda.
@Simple in France – Have to disagree with you on the magazine front, but I see your point. Whenever you can get something for free instead of paying it doesn't make financial sense. We pay for convenience.
@Clark – You know, I actually skimmed that but I never believe any of those stock picks anyways…i don' t think anyone knows what's gonna be good and when ;) Might as well have fun picking them myself!
@Forest Parks – Oh man I haven't had a candy bar in ages…used to be so addicted to them! now all that sweetness hurts my mouth? i think i'm getting old…
@Money Reasons – Nice analyzations :) Whatever works!

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29 J. Lynne March 5, 2010 at 10:43 pm

My solution to the soda cost problem was to invest in a SodaStream. Mixing my own soda has seriously cut down on the cost and now everyone at work thinks I'm oh-so eccentric with my homemade soda. Plus, I've actually cut down on my caffeine intake. (By the way, I love orange mixed with cream soda best.)

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30 Brad Chaffee March 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm

One of the biggest money wasters of all time didn't make the list! DVD's! People waste so much money on buying movies they may watch a few times, just because they loved it the first time. I admit I have my classics that I can, and have, watched many times, but for the most part it is a complete waste of money.

I may have to come up with my own list of money wasters for EOD!

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31 J. Money March 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm

yeah go for it :) would be cool to see everyone else's 6 money wasters…mine would be really different I think.

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32 The Debt Darling March 12, 2010 at 4:18 am

I hardly ever do sodas anymore. I just decided I did not want to drink my calories. Occasionall (like once a month), I will get a hankering for a Coke and pay 75 cents at a vending machine because if I buy them, I will drink them. lol :)

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