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Being financially better off requires a combination of two main factors: being able to earn money and the ability to manage spending. Even though you may feel like you have great control over your finances, there are still plenty of spending traps that can result in you having less in the bank at the end of the month than there should be. Kick start your finances this summer by ensuring you’re avoiding these Top 10 ways you are wasting money.

Wasting Money

Bottled water

If you sit down and think about how much sense it makes to pay for something that comes out of the tap it’s just a bit bizarre. Yes, many bottled water brands claim health benefits and you may prefer the taste but the extortionate cost can be a real waste of money. Try a filter jug instead of paying by the bottle or invest in a water filtration bottle which you can carry around just like bottled water but which you fill from the tap.

Branded products

It’s no secret that supermarkets hike up the prices of certain branded products but are they really any different in terms of what you’re getting for your money? It’s always worth checking the ingredients to see what the differences are – or trialling own-brand items to see whether they really don’t offer you the same taste/feel/results. Often, the difference is negligible.

Lottery tickets

Your chances of winning the UK lottery are 1 in 14 million. Those are the kinds of odds that no sane gambler would ever take a chance on. While it may seem like ‘just a couple of quid’ here and there, playing the lottery can really add up, especially if you get caught up in the advertising and start playing more often. Put the money aside and keep it for a rainy day instead.

Financial fees

From large credit card fees, to paying a fee to arrange a payday loan, there is often no need to pay extra for a financial product. Some brokers may charge to find and arrange a personal loan for you – but many won’t (like us!) – and you are wasting money if you pay for this service unnecessarily. Search online for fee free brokers and financial products without hidden fees, or simply use Solution Loans!

Pre-prepared meals

Buy One Get One Free, Two For One, Three For Two – all these offers can seem very enticing, particularly as they are frequently applied to ready meals and frozen food that also offers all the convenience of not really having to cook. However, in almost every case when something has been prepared for you it will be more expensive than something you have made yourself from raw ingredients. Everything from lasagne to soups will cost significantly less if you rustle them up from what you have at home rather than spending out on something ready prepared.

Food waste

In the UK we throw out around 15 million tonnes of waste every year and half of this comes from our homes. This wastage costs the average household around £470 a year and that rises to £700 for a family with children. One very simple way to make sure you stop wasting money in this way is to cut down your food waste – use everything in the fridge before you shop again and learn how to prepare simple dishes from what’s in the cupboards.

Energy

Particularly during the winter months, energy bills can be high. From badly insulated homes to those where lights are left on and the heating is always set to high, poorly used energy is a huge waste of money. Grants are available for a more energy efficient boiler, as well as insulation, and there are numerous ways to keep energy costs down, such as putting on an extra jumper instead of turning the heating up.

Smoking

The price of cigarettes is rising at a phenomenal rate as the government seeks to try and reduce the numbers of UK smokers. If you smoke a pack a day you could save yourself £50+ a week by giving up, adding £200+ a month to your budget.

Mobiles

Mobile phone contracts – especially paying for data – can be enormously pricey and internet and cable TV packages can eat into your monthly budget. However, the cost of the same deal can vary so much from one customer to the next that you may be wasting money if you don’t shop around. Try price comparison websites to find the deal you want at the cheapest price and remember to negotiate with an existing provider – they will want to keep your custom and may be willing to discount to do it. They have special deals hidden under the desk. Just make sure you are talking to their “retention department” and make sure you tell them you are thinking leaving, and quote specific better deals you’ve found elsewhere.

Scams

Phishing scams cost UK consumers £174 million in 2015. Taking precautions to preserve your data security, not clicking on links from unknown senders and taking the time to establish whether emails asking for your data are genuine. A little care can save you a fortune in the long run. It is now estimated that 1 in 10 people suffer from a financial scam or fraud each year making it the largest form of crime in the UK.