13 Ways Americans Throw Away Money
Blame the government or blame the economy, but Americans should also blame themselves for their declining net worth.
We waste a whole lot of money. Seriously, over half a trillion dollars.
This list is based on estimates due to limited available data, and the true total is surely higher. We included things like cigarettes and gambling, even though some would claim they are are worth their cost. This is a personal finance site after all, and these are costs you can cut.
$6 billion in unused gift cards each year
$41 billion in gift cards went unused from 2005 to 2011, worth $6 billion a year, according to TowerGroup. Most of these are considered lost or discarded.
But don’t ditch those unused gift cards just yet—you might be able to turn them into cold, hard cash.
Last year, deals site CouponSherpa launched a movement called Gift Card Exchange Day, during which consumers could sell their unwanted or slightly used gift cards for cash.
On the marketplace, people post an ad for their card in the hopes that a gift card reseller will buy it. ”On average you could pocket between 75 and 92 percent of the value of your original gift,” reports BI’s Mandi Woodruff.
$7 billion in ATM fees each year
Americans pay through the nose at the ATM machine, according to Bankrate.
What’s more, these penalties are higher than ever right now.
The only way to ditch them may be dumping your big bank for a credit union. Not only do some credit unions reimburse you for ATM fees, some will even pay you for using their card.
$12 billion in traffic tickets each year
Drive too fast? Park in the wrong spot? You are spoon feeding money to the government and the insurance companies.
The National Motorists Association estimates that Americans spend 7.5 to 15 billion dollars on traffic tickets, assuming 25 to 50 million traffic tickets, costing an average of $150 with an insurance surcharges for half of them costing around $300. (We averaged the range in this estimate.)