We all have room to set aside a little money for our future. However, many people waste money every day without even realizing it. Either we pay too much for goods and services that should cost a lot less, or we buy things we don’t really need at all. Money is great to have as long as you manage and spend it wisely. But most of us never do – we waste it and we don’t even realize it.
We’d like to think we’re always smart with our money, but c’mon… Even the most fiscally responsible among us can slip up from time to time.
Do you wish you had more money to save for your future? Or, better yet, do you make excuses for why you’re not saving? Below list 30 things we, as Africans waste our money on.
1. Clothes you don’t need
That second pair of straight-leg dark wash jeans, that second pair of strappy silver sandals, that African print you keep on buying anytime you come across an attractive one (Especially ladies), your seamstress is even tired of you…we’ve all been tempted to buy just one more item that’s nearly identical to something we already have in our closets. Three words: Don’t do it.
2. Buying lunch every day
Eating out can add up quickly. The more food you can prepare at home, the better off your food budget will be. Plus, packing lunch also tends to be better for your waistline.
Of course, it’s OK to treat yourself and buy the occasional meal out, but if you’re aiming to hit major financial goals in 2017, going homemade is one of the simplest ways to cut back without making dramatic sacrifices.
3. Extra smartphone data
The Telco’s are always happy when you purchase more data. Don’t spend your last savings buying data to browse unnecessary things on Facebook or chat that person who would not reply your messages on WhatsApp.
Most people sign up for a data plan and use their phone without really digging into how much data they use. If you’re still holding onto an unlimited plan, for example, it’s worth looking up how much data you actually use in a month—you might actually save money by moving to a metered plan (after all, 48% of people don’t even use 300MB of data per month – according to Lifehack).
Finally, use Wi-Fi whenever you possibly can. When you’re connected to Wi-Fi, you’re not using any of your data allowance.
4. Bottled water
While you’re getting into the habit of packing your lunch, start filling up a water bottle too.
Most people who buy water in bottles do it for convenience. If you carry a water bottle with you, you spend nothing. (And lose weight. And live longer.)
5. Using the washer, iron and dryer every day
Tossing just a few things in the washing machine and then the dryer every day? Do you iron every day? You’re washing water, energy and money right down the drain. Save on energy (help ECG and the environment) by running the washing machine only when it’s full. Go for a cold-water wash, and line-dry for optimal savings. Also, do bulk-ironing to save electricity. Don’t contribute to dumsor.
6. Leaving the lights on
When you drive through Accra on Sunday mornings, you’ll realize that most stores leave their outside light on till the next day (Monday). How much does it cost to leave a light on overnight? About a quarter, depending on where you live. This sounds cheap, but if you leave a few unnecessary lights on every day, this can really inflate your electricity bill. Once again, save electricity and prevent dumsor.
7. ATM fees
It’ll cost you a record high of 5 Cedis to withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM. There’s no reason to continue paying these fees, which can add up significantly over time. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean.
A simple 2017 resolution: If your bank’s logo isn’t on the ATM, don’t use it.
If you use one of the traditional, bigger banks, there should be ATM options in your area. Simply look up the locations online and put in the extra effort to get to one of your bank’s ATMs.
If there aren’t any convenient ATM options in your city or town, you may want to consider opening a checking account with a more accessible bank.
Car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, title insurance, etc. Insurance companies love to rip us off. And while you can’t totally avoid them from a legal standpoint, you can shop around and save yourself a boat-load of cash.
Don’t get comfortable paying what you’re paying simply because you’re used to it. Make sure you’re getting the best deal.
9. Spending on services you can do yourself
Taking the time to learn a simple recipe or two and prepare that glorious meal yourself. We often choose convenient services because we’re either in a hurry or think the person can do a better job. But you’d be surprised at what difference a little planning and practice can make.
Fix that hair yourself, do the pedicure, manicure etc. yourself, do the makeup yourself, cook that party meal yourself and save money.
10. New cars
A car is a means of transportation to get you from one place to another. If you’re buying a new car every few years even when your old car works perfectly fine, you’re likely trying too hard to impress the wrong people… and you’re going broke in the process.
11. Pretty high heels that hurt
Those fanciful heels may be beautiful, but if they kill your feet, chances are you’ll never wear them. Such a waste of money! Make sure you test them out in the store before you buy them. This goes beyond just trying them on and standing up, however. Ask the salesperson if you can take a few laps around the store to ensure they work for you.
12. Fast fashion you’ll only wear once
Sure, that GH¢100 top from Zara, Sark, Gucci may seem affordable, but if it’s not unique and you’re really only going to wear it once, what a waste, right? You might as well put that GH¢100 toward something you really want and will wear a few times.
13. Subscriptions and memberships you don’t use
Do you still get text messages in your inbox that you don’t read? How about the gym membership you bought that you haven’t used in months? Get rid of the excess!
14. Excess food items
Collectively, we waste a lot of food. Every time you throw away excess food, that’s money down the drain.
Before you go to the market, think about the meals you’re going to make for the week and write down exactly what ingredients you’ll need to prepare those meals. When you actually go to the market, stick to just the ingredients on your list.
15. Nutritional supplements
Protein powders, vitamins, sports drinks, etc. – all of them are overpriced and have been proven by doctors to be mediocre sources of nourishment. The diabetes medication will not help you but rather make your case severe.
The answer to good health rests not in a once or twice a day supplement solution but in an integrated approach to good baseline nutrition through healthy eating habits that give us the energy we need to enjoy our lives and the best chance of warding off illnesses.
16. Impulse buys
From the Mall to Shops down to markets, retailers have a way of tricking you into spending money mindlessly. One tactic is loading the checkout aisle with tempting products: cold sodas, candy bars, and 99-cent knick knacks. After all, your self-control is likely spent by the time you’re done shopping, and stores bank on you giving into that pack of gum.
Skip the Bend-Down-Boutique or candy and redirect that Ghc10 toward your savings goals or retirement account, where it could grow significantly over time.
17. Second-rate entertainment
The best things in life are free. Stop wasting your money on movies, shows, games, and other second-rate entertainment and take a good look around you. Mother Nature offers lots of entertainment free of charge. Go playing, go watch a football match in your area, play in the rain, build a bonfire with your friends, watch the sunset with your lover, etc.
18. Nasty money-sucking (and life-sucking) Habits
Smoking, drinking and gambling are all perfect examples of bad habits in which you choose to trade short term pleasure for long-term debt and discomfort. So light one up, shoot one down, and toss another chip across the table. It’s only your life and livelihood.
19. Jewelry and precious gems
All jewelry is subject to volatile changes in price and high markups. The industry average markup varies widely – 100% to up to over 1000%. And jewelers thrive on the uneducated buyer, so do your research. Also, jewelry is almost always an emotional purchase, so you need to think logically about what you’re getting, how much you’re paying for it, and what your other options are. And even then, you probably won’t get a great deal. Buying and wearing less jewelry is always the smartest choice.
20. Medical issues that can be avoided
Eat right and exercise regularly! Keep your body and mind healthy! Major medical problems drain bank accounts, increase insurance rates, keep you from working and earning money, and generally guarantee that you will have long-term financial problems.
21. Brazilian hair
Oh yes! Brazilian hair, Peruvian hair and so on are all expensive and unnecessary. Study Shows Africans Spend Over $7 Billion On Weaves And Wigs. And your money is part of this $7 Billion if you purchase these artificial hairs. Don’t waste your money on these expensive hairs. Simplicity is the measure of beauty.
22. Fancy phones
Yes, it is still possible to function in society without a smartphone in the palm of your hand. IPhone 8 and Samsung galaxy 8 will be out soon. You are probably using iPhone 7 or galaxy and planning to get the new ones once they are released. That’s just total waste of money. They almost have the same features. Ask yourself, how much am I gaining from using these expensive phone?
23. Cooking gas
A cooking gas stove has a big burner and a small burner. The small burner consumes 6% to 10% less gas than the big burner! An experiment on cooking 250 GMs Of potatoes revealed that the small burner consumed 6.5% less gas but look 7 minutes more than the big burner.
Similarly in a kerosene stove, by cooking at lower flame you will use less fuel. You can now imagine how much fuel and money is being avoidably wasted. True, the small burner of the lower flame takes a little more time to complete cooking, but then you are not always in such a hurry that you can afford to waste fuel.
24. Expensive dates
Whatever happened to just hanging out? Now it’s a 100 Cedis trip to the movies, followed by a 150 Cedis sit-down dinner for two, then 50 Cedis gourmet frozen yogurts at the Mall. Oh, and there’s the fuel money to get around town. Multiply that by a few weekends a month, and you just went broke for that girl who probably won’t remember you in two years.
25. Gifts nobody needs
Personal finance experts suggest you think twice before rushing out to buy that relative another shoe this year.
You should make a pact with your friends and family to give back instead. Pool a percentage of money you were going to spend on gifts and give a secret blessing to somebody who is truly in need.
Ghanaians spend too much money on wedding. Since time immemorial, humans have simply accepted that the culmination of success and happiness in a relationship must lead to a budget crippling, single-day expenditure called a wedding.
Of course, most weddings just end in the creation of bridezillas and couples taking out a few additional loans to base the foundation of their future lives on. No wonder so many marriages end due to arguments over finances.
Don’t spend all your investment on your wedding. A simple low-budget wedding with few friends and family members invited is enough.
Makeup? More like mark-up! The price of makeup is marked up by 78% on average. Ladies, all 80% of you that wear makeup on a regular basis have seen and paid for these high prices, but is it really worth it?
The average woman spends Ghc66, 000 on makeup in her lifetime, money that contributes to an industry worth more than 1,680 billion Cedis. Daily makeup use is also very unhealthy due to the chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, and subsequently the bloodstream.
Anything that has a 78% mark-up, is unhealthy for you, and only serves to hide who you really are is an absolute waste of money.
If makeup gives you a greater sense of confidence and security, then I can certainly understand your argument. But ladies, moderation is key. Your health and purse will thank you dearly!
28. Luxury hotels
How cool would it be to stay in a hotel with a private pool, a grand piano, 12 rooms, and ivory furniture? Even if you had the money, it would still be an utter waste.
The most meaningful and memorable vacations are those in which you can truly step outside of your normal day to day life and experience something new and exciting.
29. Energy drinks
If you have an energy drink habit like a friend I know, it’s time to kick it if you want to save money. Those things aren’t cheap, and chances are you eventually have to start drinking more than one a day to keep the buzz once you begin to tolerate them. If this habit is due to poor sleep, fatigue or that girl, think of the money your habits are costing you as an extra motivator to change them.
30. Disposable razors
Disposable razors lose their sharpness pretty quickly (or get too clogged up with deodorant and other product residue), so you end up buying them pretty frequently. However, there are non-disposable razors that don’t cost a Cedi and once you’ve purchased it you only need to replace the blade itself, which you can usually buy in bulk.
It boggles my mind to think that we’ve wasted our hard earned money on some of these ridiculous purchases in the past. In fact, if you could add up every Cedi that you’ve spent on the items on this list, I bet you could likely pay for a house in cash!
What is the most stupid thing you have ever wasted money on? Share with us.