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 8 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. 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.
When you shop online (on Amazon or elsewhere) it will:
- Auto-apply coupon codes for you to save you money
- 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.
2. Your debt.
Debt can make you feel hopeless—even if you’re responsible about making payments on time, the interest sometimes prevents you from paying off the debt.
But, believe it or not, plenty of companies (National Debt Relief, for example) are willing to help you pay off your debt.
Here’s how it typically works:
- A company like National Debt Relief (there are plenty of others, too) negotiates with your credit card companies, banks etc. to try and reduce your debt
- If possible, they’ll consolidate all of your different sources of debt so you only have to make one monthly payment to one place.
A lot of times you’ll end up paying significantly less than you owe. Here’s an example from National Debt Relief’s site:
E.g. he was $36k in debt, but only ended up paying $23kish.
If things go well, you could be debt-free in 24-48 months or so. Here’s a calculator you can use to get a savings estimate, if you’re interested.
3. Not using an ad blocker.
If you aren’t using an ad blocker yet, I am begging you to try one. I am not exaggerating when I say it will change your life.
A good ad blocker will eliminate virtually all of the ads you’d see on the internet.
No more YouTube ads, no more banner ads, no more pop-up ads, etc. It’s incredible.
Most people I know use Total Adblock (link here) – it’s $2.42/month, but there are plenty of solid options.
Ads also typically take a while to load, so using an ad blocker reduces loading times (typically by 50% or more). They also block ad tracking pixels to protect your privacy, which is nice.
Here’s a link to Total Adblock, if you’re interested.
4. Auto insurance.
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):
- Pull up Coverage.org – it’s a free site that will compare prices for you
- Answer the questions on the page
- It’ll spit out a bunch of insurance quotes for you.
That’s literally it. You’ll likely save yourself a bunch of money.
5. 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.
6. 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 (as of the time that I’m writing this).
(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 bank accounts with solid interest rates:
7. Not securing your passwords.
If you’re not worried about your passwords being hacked, you probably should be.
Approximately 110 million Americans are hacked each year (and over 600k Facebook accounts are hacked daily). Hackers have published a whopping 555 million stolen passwords on the dark web since 2017.
Odds are, you will have an account hacked at some point in the next few years.
You probably already know how to defend yourself: by using long, ultra-strong passwords, and using a different one for each website.
But the issue is that nobody can remember 10+ strong passwords (especially if they’re made up of random letters and numbers).
The fix: experts recommend using a password manager.
Think of it like a lockbox, but for your passwords. A password manager is a service that securely stores all of your logins in one app (so you don’t have to remember a gajillion different passwords). They’re ultra-secure, and also crazily helpful.
I typically recommend Total Password, but there are lots of other providers, too. Expect to pay $2-$4/month for a service like this, but it’s well worth it (the average identity theft will cost you $3,500+).
8. Not getting paid for your opinions.
As a general rule I would ignore any site that says they’ll pay you to fill out surveys, but there are a few that are legitimate (and pay pretty well).
I usually use Survey Junkie (link here). You basically just get paid to give your opinions on different products/services, etc. Perfect for when you’re watching TV.
Here’s the form I used to sign up – I think it took me maybe 1-2 minutes tops. They don’t accept everyone, but if you get in it’s a sweet gig.
9. Not investing in real estate (start with as little as $20).
It’s no secret that millionaires and billionaires love investing in real estate, but for the rest of us, buying property has been prohibitively expensive (if not impossible, for some).
Times have changed. There are a few amazing real estate startups that allow you to buy shares of rental homes for as little as $20/share (Ark7 is one of my favorites).
They take care of the property management and collect rent checks for you. Then, on the 3rd of the following month, your share of the property’s profit is distributed to your account.
It’s an interesting way to build yourself a little rental home empire (without spending like a magnate).
10. Not investing.
Spoiler alert: You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get into expensive stocks. Get Public and start investing in fractional shares.
This basically means you can buy pieces of expensive stock. Let’s say you want to invest $500, but the stock you want costs $1,000 per share – you could purchase 0.5 shares with Public.
This kind of investing allows you to diversify your portfolio and helps build wealth without needing a ton of money to begin with.
If you’re looking to switch right now, Public has a promotion where if you transfer your account from another brokerage, you can get up to $10,000*.
That’s all (for now).
Those are my top savings tips for the time being (as of 11/6/23) but I’ll keep adding to this article as I find new tips for you.
Thanks for reading!
*Full terms and conditions of the account transfer offer at public.com/transfer-account.
All investing involves the risk of loss, including loss of principal.
Brokerage services for US-listed, registered securities are offered by Open to the Public Investing, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC.
Brokerage services for alternative assets are offered by Dalmore Group, LLC, member FINRA & SIPC.
Cryptocurrency trading services are offered by Bakkt Crypto Solutions, LLC (NMLS ID 1828849), which is licensed to engage in virtual currency business activity by the NYSDFS. Cryptocurrency is highly speculative, involves a high degree of risk, and has the potential for loss of the entire amount of an investment. Cryptocurrency holdings are not protected by the FDIC or SIPC.
Brokerage services for U.S. Treasuries are offered by Jiko Securities, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC.
Banking services are offered by Jiko Bank, a division of Mid-Central National Bank.
Securities investments: Not FDIC Insured; No Bank Guarantee; May Lose Value. ETFs, alternative assets, cryptocurrency, and treasury services are available to US members only.
See public.com/#disclosures-main for more information.
Fractional shares are illiquid outside of Public and not transferable. For a complete explanation of conditions, restrictions and limitations associated with fractional shares, see our Fractional Share Disclosure to learn more.
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