4 Worst Things To Spend Money On

4 Worst Things To Spend Money On

In personal finance, understanding what not to spend money on can be just as crucial as knowing where to invest. Frequently overlooked or underestimated, some areas can significantly impact your financial success.

This article aims to show why certain spending habits harm financial health and offers guidance on more intelligent, sustainable financial choices. Let’s explore these common spending pitfalls and discover how to navigate spending to align with long-term wealth building.

The Worst Ways to Waste Money

Here are four commonly recognized worst things to spend money on based on the math and cost to you over time:

  • Large Depreciating Assets Like New Cars: They often lose value quickly, and the cost of maintenance, insurance, and fuel can add up.
  • Overpriced Eating Out Frequently: Regular spending on expensive coffee and frequently eating out can add up surprisingly fast, significantly impacting your budget.
  • Lottery Tickets: The odds of winning are extremely low, and it can become a habitual expense with little to no return.
  • Extended Warranties and Unnecessary Insurance: Often, these don’t offer good value for money. The likelihood of needing them is usually low compared to the cost.

When looking at purchases as value propositions, you can start to see what’s worth the money and what is not worth the cost to you as an individual.

Keep reading for an explanation of why each of these four things is a terrible way to spend money and what to do instead.

The Hidden Costs of New Cars: Understanding Depreciation and Ongoing Expenses

The allure of a brand-new car, with its sleek design, new car smell, and the latest technology, can be irresistible. However, the financial implications of purchasing a new vehicle are often overlooked. The concept of depreciation is particularly critical here.

As soon as a new car rolls out of the dealership, its value plummets, frequently losing about 20-30% of its value within the first year and around 50-60% over three years. This steep depreciation rate makes new cars a poor investment. The depreciation is the cost of manufacturing, advertising, and labor you spend when buying straight from the dealer. A used vehicle is limited to the price of the car alone.

Beyond depreciation, owning a new car comes with additional expenses. Insurance premiums tend to be higher for new vehicles. Although less frequent in newer models, maintenance can still be costly, especially for luxury brands.

Fuel costs are another consideration, especially with fluctuating oil prices driving gasoline higher. These ongoing expenses can add up, making the total cost of ownership significantly higher than the sticker price.

An alternative to buying new is to consider purchasing a used car. Vehicles just a few years old often come at a significantly lower price, with much of their value depreciated. New car payments and insurance can drain your ability to build investments as they divert your income to the finance company. The long-term impact of big car payments can leave you broke.

The Financial Pitfalls of Frequent Dining Out and Pricey Coffee Habits

It’s not just the big purchases that can impact your financial health; small, frequent expenses can accumulate over time, often unnoticed. Regular spending on expensive coffee and dining out is one such habit. Consider this: a $5 coffee every weekday is about $1,300 annually. Regular dining at restaurants can inflate this figure to much more.

It’s not only splurging on fine dining anymore, either. Fast-food and casual dining restaurants have become much more expensive in the past four years, sometimes doubling their menu prices. These expenses, often discretionary, can form a significant portion of one’s budget.

These habits can affect not only personal finances but also long-term financial goals like saving for retirement or paying off debt. The key to managing these costs is not necessarily to cut them out entirely but to indulge in them more mindfully. Ensure the experience, food, and convenience are worth the new higher costs.

Cooking at home and reserving dining out for special occasions can be rewarding and financially prudent. Not only does this approach save money, but it can also lead to healthier eating habits.

Lottery Tickets: A Gamble With Low Odds and High Costs

The allure of winning big with just a small bet is the driving force behind the popularity of lottery tickets. However, the odds of winning significant amounts are incredibly low. For instance, the odds of winning a major lottery jackpot can be as low as one in several million. Despite this, many purchase lottery tickets regularly, lured by the dream of instant wealth.

The issue with regularly spending on lottery tickets is the cumulative cost over time. Even a seemingly small expenditure, like $20 per week on lottery tickets, adds up to $1,040 annually. This money could be put towards more reliable financial growth strategies, such as saving or investing in a diversified portfolio.

Alternatively, consider redirecting the funds spent on lottery tickets into a savings account or investing in stocks or mutual funds. While these options don’t offer the instant thrill of a potential lottery win, they provide a more dependable means of accumulating wealth over time.

Extended Warranties and Unnecessary Insurance: Are They Really Worth It?

Extended warranties and additional insurance policies are often pitched as wise purchase protection. However, they’re not always necessary or financially worth it. The cost of these warranties and insurance policies can be disproportionately high compared to the benefits they offer.

Many products, especially electronics, are built to last and rarely malfunction within the extended warranty period. Some credit cards offer extended warranty protection as a perk, rendering the additional coverage unnecessary.

Before purchasing an extended warranty or extra insurance, conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis is essential. Consider the reliability of the product and the coverage offered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

In many cases, setting aside a small emergency fund for repairs or replacements can be a more economical choice than paying for extended coverage. Being self-insured on small purchases can save you much money over the long term.

Key Takeaways

  • Rapid Value Decline of New Automobiles: New vehicles rapidly depreciate, making them less-than-ideal financial decisions.
  • Accumulating Costs of Regular Dining and Gourmet Beverages: Habitual expenditure on lavish meals and specialty drinks can stealthily inflate your budget.
  • Low Return Probability of Lottery Investments: Consistently buying lottery tickets is akin to betting against high odds, often resulting in financial loss over time.
  • Questionable Necessity of Additional Warranties and Insurance: Overpriced protection plans and extended coverage often do not correspond to actual needs or usage patterns.


Smart budgeting demands a keen awareness of where value is genuinely found and where it is misleadingly portrayed. This filter is critical in discerning between smart purchases and spending that only leads to fleeting satisfaction or long-term financial drain.

Embracing habits that align with long-term financial health and rejecting enticing yet terrible spending traps is a foundation of wise money management. By applying these principles, we can all avoid the four worst things to spend money on and ensure our hard-earned money is utilized in the most beneficial way possible, contributing to our overall financial security and well-being.

Understanding the actual cost of your purchases, whether a tangible asset like a car or an intangible one like lottery tickets, is crucial for sound financial planning. It’s essential to consider the long-term implications of your spending habits and seek alternatives that offer better value for your money.

Doing so can improve your financial well-being and work towards achieving your long-term financial goals. Remember, the key to intelligent spending isn’t about cutting out all joys and conveniences from life; it’s about making informed choices that align with your financial objectives.