13 things you're spending too much money on

lottery ticketCharles Rex Arbogast/AP

  • You can save thousands of dollars a year by making small changes to your spending in your everyday life.
  • You may be spending way too much on things like coffee, gym memberships, and name-brand medicine.
  • Here are 13 things you're spending too much money on.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As the saying goes, nothing in this world is free.

The truth is that much of the time, everyday life is an expensive undertaking.

But with a few concrete changes and a minor shift in how you approach your daily expenses, you can save enough money each year to make a meaningful difference in your personal budget.

Take coffee for instance - if you simply make coffee at home instead of buying a cup from Starbucks every day, you could save yourself more than $1,000 a year.

But that's far from the only unnecessary expense. By bargain hunting, adopting a DIY mentality, and being willing to make a few life changes, you can save thousands of dollars each year, and in many cases can save you large sums of money on major purchases.

With that in mind, here are 13 things you are probably spending too much money on.

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Coffee

Coffee

It might be cliché to call out the high cost of coffee, but it's an expense so many of us incur daily that doesn't need to have any meaningful impact on our budgets.

Assuming you pay $4.50 per day for a coffee shop coffee, you'll spend $1,170 a year for five cups weekly. Meanwhile, coffee brewed at home costs about $0.60 per serving (and that's on the high end), or $156 a year for the same volume.

Want fancier coffee? Invest $15 in a milk frother and make lattes at home. Not god enough? Invest $400 for a barista-level espresso maker — you'll still be hundreds ahead of the game.

Related: I saved $154 in one month by making coffee at home instead of buying it at Starbucks

Electricity

Electricity

Your home is almost surely using more power than it needs, and maybe significantly more at that.

Anything that need not be plugged in should not be plugged in, and any light bulb that can be switched off should be dark when you're not using it.

Also, spend the money to switch to LED bulbs and you will save money over time from the reduced energy use and more durable bulbs. And consider keeping the home a bit warmer in summer and cooler in winter to save on heating and air conditioning.

New cars

New cars

Don't look for a new car. Look for an almost new car.

Most new cars see about 20% depreciation in value over the first 12 months, but they don't lose 20% of their quality. Looking for a car that's just one year old could land you an almost-good-as-new vehicle with tens of thousands of dollars saved.

Bottled water

Bottled water

Some things in the world actually are almost free, as it turns out.

Tap water at restaurants, your office, the gym, or anywhere else where the water bill isn't in your name costs you fractions of pennies in the taxes that go toward infrastructure maintenance — it's appreciably free.

To get the recommended 64 ounces of water you need daily from bottled water, you'd pay at least $3.75 a day, or $1,369 a year.

The gym

The gym

If you're paying $10 a month (plus an annual $40 fee) for a Planet Fitness membership, you go ahead and keep on keeping on.

But if you're shelling out $99 or more each month for, say, an Orangetheory membership, then make sure you're not also talking about how tight your money is, because you could save nearly $2,000 by ditching it.

And push-ups and jogging? Those are free.

Cable TV

Cable TV

Most cable plans cost at least $50 per month. You could get a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video and still pay less than that with monthly costs combined.

And with a one-time purchase of a digital antenna, you can still get dozens of TV channels and enjoy sports, news, sitcoms, and so on.

Weddings

Weddings

A 2018 study found that the average American wedding these days costs $33,931. The cost of a marriage license runs from $10 at the low end to a whopping $115 at the most expensive.

You and your friends and family won't treasure the memories of a marriage license application the same as that wedding day, but the fact is your marriage could cost 295 times more than it has to.

Gasoline

Gasoline

Unless you drive a high performance car, there is no reason to put a gas with an octane higher than 87 into the tank.

Check your owner's manual or talk to a dealership to be sure, but chances are that the 89, 91, or even 93 octane fuel you're using is a waste of cash: It won't make your car faster and it will do next to nothing to preserve engine life.

And assuming you save 15 cents per gallon by switching to 87, that could put about $100 back in your pocket if you go through the 656 gallons of gas per year the average driver burns up.

Food delivery

Food delivery

When you order food for delivery, you can assume at least four or five dollars tacked on for the convenience.

Many companies charge a delivery fee to begin with, and then there's the tip you'll have to turn over as well. If the restaurant from which you're ordering is within walking distance, just do the legwork yourself.

And assuming it's within 10 miles, you'll save cash driving yourself even if you have a car with horrible fuel efficiency.

Insurance

Insurance

You might not think of insurance as negotiable, but in fact that's very much the case — just think of all those Geico commercials.

You can probably get the same health, car, and even life insurance coverage you have now for less by shopping around or by working with your existing provider. And check your auto insurance policy to be sure, but it likely covers you in any vehicle, so you can pass on adding insurance to your rental cars.

Medicine

Medicine

If your doctor prescribes you a medication with a name you can pronounce, chances are there is a generic version with a name you can't pronounce that will cost you many times less.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, generic drugs cost as much as 80% to 85% less than name brands on average.

Food

Food

The USDA reports that between 30% to 40% of the entire food supply in America is wasted. Assuming you have a weekly grocery bill of $200, that means about $70 wasted each week, or an astonishing $3,640 each year.

To reduce food waste, assess what you regularly toss and buy less (or none) of it, and use canned or frozen fruits and veggies when possible so you'll stop tossing spoiled produce. And of course, you can save thousands more by preparing your own meals.

Related: My family of 4 spends $946 a month on groceries and eats at home for almost every meal — here's exactly what we buy

Lottery tickets

Lottery tickets

The occasional scratch-off ticket can be fun to buy and might well net you a $2 or $3 win, but when it comes to the multimillion dollar Powerball drawings, it's safe to assume your number will never come up, and the money you don't spend on the ticket is the real win.

Expert analysis varies, but one mathematician calculated a one in 292,201,338 chance of an individual hitting a major jackpot.

Read more: We did the math to see if you should buy a lottery ticket

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