July 14, 2015

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So let’s say you’ve had a wake up call of some sort, and you’re ready to start yourself on the path towards financial health. Where do you even begin?

For me, the best thing I did was sign up for a financial tracking program — specifically — to get a handle on just where the hell my money was going every month. It only took a few months of tracking my every transaction on Mint to realize that I was dying by a thousand cuts, letting money slip through my fingers in tiny increments.

The second benefit of tracking your spending through a program like Mint is that you can look back on your spending from years past and ask yourself, WTF was I thinking?!?


Let’s take a journey through time, shall we? Here’s a list of the STUPIDEST things I used to spend my money on before I got control of my finances. A note that almost every purchase below was made in the same month!

1. Credit card interest


A classic killer.I’ve talked before about the horrors of credit cards so I won’t repeat myself here.

2. Kindle books


Now I exclusively get my books at the local library. Occasionally I’ll buy a book that I spot at Goodwill.

3. Cheap online games that I only ended up playing for a day or two.


I still buy video games, but now I wait until I’m sure it’s a game I really want, and then I usually end up playing 50+ hours on it over the course of many months or years. No more single-bite flash games.

4. Expensive coffee


As I explained in a recent post, I don’t believe in the “latte factor” — but I do believe that I was an idiot for spending $8.45 on a cup of coffee and a scone!

5. Late fees, ATM fees and foreign transaction fees


Was it really that hard to return the Redbox DVD for two days?


Not in the same month, but I still can’t believe I used to leak pennies to these things. I hadn’t discovered no-fee credit cards yet, and hadn't learned to plan ahead for cash purchases so that I could remember to hit up my bank's ATM or get cash at the grocery store along with my food purchase.

6. Storage unit for items I couldn’t fit in my apartment


Luckily I only paid for storage for a month or two while moving between apartments. But it would have been easy to let this run on month after month, until I forgot what was even in there!

7. Fast fashion


Two trips in one day! I probably ended up giving half the clothes to Goodwill a few months later.

And the absolute stupidest thing I used to waste my money on is…

8. Ridiculous monthly subscriptions that I was too lazy to cancel


One time I was trying to find someone’s phone number or something on the internet, and I paid for one of those services that compiles someone’s entire address and contact info history. And then I paid $19.95 a month for it for a while until I bothered to cancel it… WTF


I also got sucked in by those Bare Minerals commercials. Who else spent their childhoods watching the infomercial on loop? Just me? Okay then.


I could kick myself for how long I paid $19.99 a month to have makeup shipped to my house that I never ever used!

All told, I straight out wasted $350 on this absolute, utter crap in just a single month. And then I wondered why I couldn’t get ahead! Tracking my finances forced me to stare these individual mistakes in the face and realize that they added up to a big problem.

If you have a story of things you can’t believe you once spent money on — particularly monthly subscriptions! the worst! — let me know in the comments.

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