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Money Drain Experiment: Recap of 311 People’s Common Money Drains

Last month I held a give-a-way contest through giveawaysaresexy.com, offering 3 $25 amazon.com gift cards. One method of entering was to post a comment on how you’ve flushed money down the drain, and there were a lot of entries. I decided I wanted to recap and summarize the results of how all the entrants said they wasted money, and it turned out fairly interesting.

Not everyone who entered did so by posting a way they wasted money, some just liked us on Facebook for their entry.  311 people posted ways they wasted money for the contest.

I’ve attempted to put these into some basic rough categories.

Top Categories:

  1. Eating Out/Buying Lunch – 108 Mentions
  2. Food Purchase (groceries, junk food) – 73 Mentions
  3. Unnecessary Shopping – 46 Mentions
  4. Monthly Bill Related – 25 Mentions
  5. TV Related (Cable/Netflix) – 10 Mentions
  6. Smoking – 9 Mentions
  7. Transportation – 8 Mentions
  8. Miscellaneous – 7 Mentions
  9. Hobbies – 7 Mentions
  10. Housing Related – 6 Mentions
  11. Debt Interest – 4 Mentions
  12. Investing – 2 Mentions
  13. Hiring/DIY/Services – 2 Mentions
  14. Children – 1 Mention
  15. Overspending – 1 Mention
  16. Schooling – 1 Mention
  17. Benefits – 1 Mention

Eating Out – Out of the entire eating out category, most mentions were eating at restaurants, with a few mentions of Starbucks and getting Soda at restaurants instead of water.

Food Purchase – Most food purchases were just rotting food that was bought from the grocery store and never used.  There were some mentions of buying steak, junk food, or snacks, but the majority was just letting food go to waste.  I included not using grocery coupons here, which had a handful of entries.

Unnecessary Shopping – The shopping was pretty sporadic.  A lot of mentions of clothes, shoes, e-books.  Also general impulse buying.

Monthly Bill Related – Most of the monthly bill wastes were late fees, unused gym memberships, and wasting electricity or water.

TV – Most people consider having cable tv a waste, and a few include Netflix in this mix.

Smoking – Pretty self-explanatory, though I am surprised this wasn’t higher on the list.

Transportation – Public transit was probably the most popular of transportation mentions.  But a few mentions relating to gas such as leisure driving and unconsolidated trips to the grocery store.

Miscellaneous – I just stuck some of the random mentions here.  A few examples were wasting time instead of making money, lending money to friends, bad dates, etc.

Hobbies – Mostly gambling here.

Housing Related – These were all different, inefficient windows, renting, cosmetic renovations, etc.

Debt Interest – The biggest one here I saw was someone buying a new car on a credit card.  The rest were general loan/credit card interest.

Investing – Bad Stock purchases

Services/DIY – Contractors or hiring people to wash your car

Children – Diapers

Overspending – Vacations

Schooling – Out of State Schooling

Benefits – Not taking advantage of dependent care flexible spending so ended up having to pay for daycare out of pocket.

So in general it seems like food is a HUGE Money Drain for people, which I thought was pretty interesting considering the issue with food prices in this economy, the amount of starving people we have out there right now, etc.  It sorta makes me wish there was a way to stop wasting so much on food and instead investing it in feeding the poor.

Take a moment to sit down and evaluate your spending habits in regards to wasting groceries or how much you spend eating out or buying your lunches (Starbucks counts).  What can you imagine doing with that extra money instead?  Do you think you can stick to a grocery list and plan meals a head of time so you are less likely to waste food?  Can you come up with some quick meals that you can make and put in the fridge to use for lunch throughout the week?

The most amusing Money Drain Entry?: Letting my wife use credit cards

About Crystal Groves, Google+

Crystal Groves is a farmer, web developer, musician, blogger, and personal finance enthusiast from the back hills of Maryland and Pennsylvania. She started Money Drain as a project to encourage people interested in fixing their financial situation to share their stories and learn from the stories of others. We all make mistakes, but in order to change we have to make changes.

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2 Responses to Money Drain Experiment: Recap of 311 People’s Common Money Drains

  1. Méla says:

    I find it interesting that the biggest problem area for most seems to be food related. I recently started a new job and am constantly amazed by the fact that the majority of my co-workers buy their lunch every day and that the couple who do bring “brown bags” tend to toss them then go purchase something in the food court! Double waste!

    It can be difficult to fit healthy, budget-friendly eating into many of our busy schedules but it can be done with a little planning. Eating out is never part of the routine in our household, it is always an occasion. Day to day meals are planned a week at a time according to the coming week’s schedule–breakfast is pretty static, lunches vary from week to week and in the evenings when dinner is going to have to be rushed the crock pot and/or planned left-overs are the name of the game.

    • I agree whole-heartedly. I hardly ever go out to eat, and haven’t ordered pizza delivery in probably a year. I try to make big meals that I can either freeze or at least keep in the fridge for a few days, which I then use for lunch throughout the week. Crock-pot meals are by far the easiest and most delicious route to go for people on a limited time frame.

      Perhaps a post on easy/quick/crock-pot recipes should be forthcoming 🙂

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