Nine bad habits that are costing you money

The cost of living has been rising rapidly, making it more and more difficult for people to keep up. The price of food, petrol and other essentials have been rising rising and there seems to be no slowing down.

If you sometimes spend without thinking, it might be time for an honest self-assessment. These tips can help you break stubborn and expensive habits for good.

Shopping on autopilot

If you’re the type of shopper who rushes through the supermarket and always buys the same staples, you may be overspending at the checkout. Taking a bit of time to compare unit prices, look for specials and buy seasonal produce can help you make significant savings.

Always sticking to name-brand groceries

Sticking to name brands rarely makes sense when the only meaningful difference between a national brand product and its supermarket version is the price.

The quality of house brand products is often comparable to their brand name counterparts, sometimes they are even made by the same manufacturer, just packaged differently. A quick glance over the ingredients can tell you when this is the case.

Refusing to haggle

Haggling is a skill that can help you to save money on large appliances and other household goods. In-house shoppers at CHOICE say that you can get serious discounts on items just by asking the retailer. For example, when they were buying mattresses for one review, CHOICE negotiated a cheaper price on a mattress more often than not. In one case, even knocking almost half off the recommended retail price.

If haggling doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. Just remember to be confident and to ask the retailer if they can do any better on the price. You may be surprised at how much you can save. Try it with everything from your car insurance to your monthly subscriptions.

Paying for a gym membership you never use

Surely we can all relate to a monthly gym fee feeling more like a charitable donation at some point in our life. Cancelling your membership sounds easy until you get struck by the guilt that you should be going, so you decide to keep it for ‘just one more month’.

If you love the gym and go often, it’s certainly not a bad habit. But if you pay for it and rarely go, that money can be used for other things in life.

If you do go to the gym regularly but don’t enjoy it, think about exploring other exercise possibilities. Try low-impact cardio videos at home or get low-cost free weights and a mat for stretching and toning. Beware of wasting even more money on a piece of exercise equipment that you may not use, though.

Letting food go bad in your fridge

This is one of those areas of life that’s bad for both your wallet and your soul. In Australia, more than one-third of the average rubbish bin will be filled with food waste – the equivalent of one in five shopping bags worth of food is simply thrown away.

One remedy is to stick a white label to every food product in the fridge and write the use-by date in large font in a dark marker. This makes it easy for you to see exactly what needs to be used and when. Next, be realistic about how much fruit and veg you eat in a week when purchasing it at the supermarket. If you don’t meal plan, it’s easy to go overboard with fresh produce. Buy frozen vegetables that can be whipped up at a moment’s notice instead.

Not doing a full load of laundry

It’s cheaper to wash one full load than two half loads, so fill your washing machine right up before you run it. Also, use a cold cycle whenever possible as heating the water is the thing that uses most of the energy.

Getting stung by the loyalty tax

If you haven’t shopped around for energy providers recently, now is the perfect time to check whether you could be getting a better deal. Electricity prices are going up left right and centre, so start by asking your provider if there are any discounts or better deals available to you and then start researching what else is on offer.

Not being smart with your heating

Every time you turn on the heating, it costs you money. Therefore, it makes sense to try to keep all the heat you’re paying for inside the house. According to CHOICE heating expert Chris Barnes, “Up to 40 per cent of heating energy can be lost through your windows and the roof, so having a poorly insulated house and windows without curtains or blinds will make your home colder and mean you’re paying more to get warmer.”

Track down and seal draughts, keep unused spaces closed and use your ceiling fan to help keep your house warm without pushing up heating costs.

If you’re in the market for a new heater, check out the cheapest way to heat your home before making your decision. Running costs can vary hugely between models and a heater that costs less upfront might end up costing you more in the long run.

Forgetting to cancel free trials and subscriptions

App subscriptions and other recurring payments that automatically get charged to your credit card can easily be forgotten about once they’re set up. There are plenty of businesses out there that are counting on you to become forgetful or downright unmotivated after you place an order for a product or service. Such businesses benefit big time if you forget to cancel something you meant to order on a trial basis only. Set reminders on your phone as soon as you sign up for a subscription or trial so you can cancel it before being charged.

Are you guilty of any of those money-wasting habits? Do you have any other tips for members? Share them in the comments section below.

Also read: Simple tips for reducing your food waste at home

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.


  1. My wife wants me to cut down on booze, does that count? But seriously, the best way to save money is to set a budget, if you follow it closely you’ll be surprised how much money you are ‘leaking’ every week or even every day. A good place to start is most major banks track your spending and have financial tools to get you started. Cheers!

  2. A large problem for all today is power and how it is needed and used. We travel regularly and each hotel we stay in, I notice the plug sockets on the wall are switched on with no lead. The same applies to every household we go to.
    It is a fact that more power is seeping out of these sockets and wasted. Yet, it also adds to everyone electric bill.
    Everyone should be switching unused sockets off and surely it will save on power and every bill.

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