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The 7 Stupidest Money Mistakes All Americans Make

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I’m a massive coupon/savings nerd, and an embarrassing amount of my time is spent talking to people to find out how much they’re spending.

In my experience, the average American is overpaying for things on an almost daily basis.

Here are the 7 worst culprits for overspending (and how you can save money by avoiding them):

(Note: this page has affiliate links, I get paid when you click on them, so click on them a lot!)

#1: Not using high-yield savings accounts.

If you’re like the average American, your savings account pays you virtually zero interest (typically under 0.3% a year, in my experience).

But believe it or not, plenty of banks are willing to offer you 10x that rate.

Barclays, for example, has an account that pays a whopping ~4%/year right now (with no minimums).

(E.g. if you store $100k in a 4% interest savings account today, in a year you’ll have netted $4,000 from interest alone)

If you’re interested, here are a few banks with high-yield savings options:

2. Overspending on online shopping

You might be surprised how often you’re overpaying on Amazon and elsewhere.

Big stores like Amazon know that no one has time to price shop through dozens of sites, so there’s often no incentive for them to offer bargain prices.

I typically hate browser extensions with a fiery passion, but if you don’t have Capital One Shopping installed yet, do yourself a favor and grab it.

When you shop online (on Amazon or elsewhere) it will:

  1. Auto-apply coupon codes for you to save you money
  2. Compare prices from other sellers to make sure you’re not missing out on a better deal

It’s saved me a ton of money more than once. Here’s a quick example:

Savings will vary, this is just an example, of course.

That same exact blender was $26 cheaper at another store (with 2 day shipping) when I shopped.

Here’s a link to install Capital One Shopping, if you’re interested.

3. Overpaying on auto insurance (by $400+/year)

Believe it or not, the average American family still overspends by $417/year1 on car insurance.

Here’s how to quickly see how much you’re being overcharged (takes maybe 30 seconds):

  1. Pull up Coverage.org – it’s a free site that will compare prices for you
  2. Answer the questions on the page
  3. It’ll spit out a bunch of insurance quotes for you.

That’s literally it. You’ll likely save yourself a bunch of money.

Here’s a link to Coverage.org.

4. Not getting a financial advisor.

99% of people don’t have one, and it’s typically a huge mistake.

Sure, you can manage things on your own if you want to, but most people don’t have the time to actually do things right. There are huge benefits to having somebody pay attention to your money all the time.

  • People with financial advisors tend to beat the market by ~3%/year (according to a 2019 Vanguard Study). That can make a huge difference over time.
  • But more important: a good advisor will handle ALL of the annoying retirement stuff & bizarro tax implications you would have never thought of

If you don’t know a financial advisor personally, use a comparison site (like WiserAdvisor) and find somebody near you that has good reviews.

Or if you want something easier, here’s a quiz you can fill out that will find an advisor/planner based on your reqs.

5. Giving away your screentime for free

Very few people know about it, but Nielsen (the company that measures TV ratings) will actually pay you for the time you spend on your phone or PC.

You basically are part of a mini-research study: you just install an app on your device that will give Nielsen anonymous data on how much you use your phone, etc.

Not everybody qualifies for it, but if you do, it’s a sweet gig.

6. Overpaying on credit card debt

Credit card debt is, obviously, REALLY expensive to deal with.

But this company (Bankrate) might be willing to pay all of it off for you.

Here’s the basic idea:

  • Use this page to search for the lowest-interest loan you can find (make sure the loan actually works well for you, of course)
  • Take that loan, and use it to pay off your higher-interest credit card debt
  • Then slowly pay off the new loan over time

You’re effectively switching high-interest debt for lower-interest payments (but of course, do your own homework here to make sure it’s a good fit for you).

That’s all (for now).

Those are my top 7 savings tips for the time being (as of 5/2/23) but I’ll keep adding to this article as I find new tips for you.

Thanks for reading!

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