And because we (Dave Ramsey’s website) want you to win with your money—not lose it—we’re back with 10 more money-wasters to watch out for. Which of these are you buying into?
1. Up-Sizing Your Order
All you want is a chicken sandwich, some fries and to get back to work. But the teenager at the other end of the speaker has other plans. She wants you to add a cookie and a large drink for only a dollar more. Luckily, you aren’t 15 anymore. So stop giving into peer pressure! Be the adult and just say no.
Related: Mind Your Manners: 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid at Restaurants
2. Purebred Dogs
From teacup Chihuahuas to massive Great Danes, we love our expensive dog breeds. But there are plenty of loving dogs (and cats) that make up in loyalty what they lack in pedigree. So save a life, gain a friend, and keep a puppy mill out of business—all in a day’s work.
3. Private Education
Many parents can’t afford to give their kids an exclusive education from pre-K to college. And yet, year after year, well-meaning moms and dads sign the dotted line so junior can have the very best. Listen up, America. An alma mater isn’t going to guarantee your sweetie a six-figure income—only hard work and determination can do that. So before you pay for another tuition hike, make sure you’re actually getting a better, safer or more faith-centered education for your money. And absolutely do not go into debt for it.
4. Lottery Tickets
For every 259 million people that play the Mega Millions lottery, one will strike it rich. Don’t like those odds? Neither do we. How about these: if you invest $100 a month in a good retirement plan for 40 years, you’ll almost always retire a millionaire. See, boring can be fun.
5. Brand-Name Medicine
Are you picking your over-the-counter medicines based on heart-warming commercials or beloved celebrity voiceovers? Brand-name drugs usually have the same exact ingredients as their generic counterparts. So read the labels and buy your meds based on what’s in them, not based on who’s advertising them.
6. At-Home Parties
You’ve been invited to yet another jewelry party. Last month it was tote bags, and before that it was essential oils. But your best friend is hosting this one, and she’s asked you to come along as a favor. So you RSVP—even though you never make good decisions in a room full of women eating, drinking and writing checks for fun. Next time, if you can’t afford it, say no. Blame the budget if you have to. A true friend will understand.
7. The Newest Gadgets
Tech companies know we crave the latest and greatest devices. So every other month they add more storage space or change the screen size. And voilà! We blindly go out and buy a new one. Next time, appreciate the perfectly fine phone you’ve got until it dies a happy, well-used death. If it still makes calls, it’s still a phone.
8. Car Payments and Leases
Given the choice, would you rather pay someone else $500 a month, or pay yourself $500? Thought so. Instead of buying a car on payments, hunt for a vehicle you can actually afford right now—even if it’s just a $2,000 get-you-to-work-and-back beater. And in just three short years, you’ll have enough money saved for an $18,000 look-at-you-now beauty. Patience pays off.
9. Singing Birthday Cards
That hilarious singing birthday card may be cute, but it’s not seven dollars cute! Plus, your brother-in-law is just going to throw it away in a week’s time. So save some cash by grabbing a generic card for a buck or two and writing a meaningful message inside. What you say will mean so much more than the paper you say it on.
10. Bottled Water
There’s really no excuse to buy something that’s practically free. And yet, in 2012, Americans spent more than $11.8 billion on disposable water bottles. Just drink from the tap, already! And if you’re worried about taste or quality, grab a filter and call it a day.
As always, if you can afford private tuition or that great used car, go for it! But if you’re still paying down debt, catching up on bills, or stockpiling your emergency fund, these splurges need to wait. Because the more money you can find in your budget, the more financial stress you can eliminate from your life.