10 Things You Should Never Spend Money On

  1. Extendend Warranties: Just say no. Extended warranties are a numbers game, and those numbers favor the seller. If you are really that concerned that your new purchase is going to break then you shouldn’t be buying it. Save your money. If you want to have some fun when the clerk asks you if you would like the warranty respond by asking “Why, is this product no good? Is it going to break? Oh well, maybe I shouldn’t buy it at all then.”

  2. Checking Accounts: If you are paying for your checking account please stop right now. Know the rules you need to play by to keep your checking account free. If you can’t do it, change banks. There are plenty of banks that offer truly free checking. Find one.

  3. Anything a telemarketer is selling: A great rule of thumb is that if they approach you then you shouldn’t buy it. No matter how good the deal is if you didn’t go looking for it then you probably shouldn’t buy it. If you really feel you must have whatever they are selling get a number to call them back and do some research first. If they won’t let you think about then that is a huge red flag. Hang up!

  4. Late fees: There is no excuse to paying these. If you are paying late fees, please take some time this month and get organized. If you have bills that are due at weird times of the month and this is throwing you off then you need a budget and an emergency fund. A couple of hundred dollars in the bank will save you from ever having to pay another late fee.

  5. Children’s Life Insurance: Life insurance is designed to protect your dependents in the event of your death. Children do not have dependents. Therefore they do not need life insurance. Period. Put that money into a college savings account.

  6. Your Own Money: ATM fees, rapid refunds, settlement consolidations, etc. There are a lot of ways to pay for access to your own money. Don’t do it. Plan your cash needs ahead so you don’t have to use a fee laden ATM. Wait those extra few weeks for your tax return. And those settlement consolidations companies (“It’s my money and I need it now!”) are to be avoided. Don’t pay for your own money!

  7. The 1st Generation of Anything Electronic: Skip the newest of anything that comes out. There will be bugs and you will over pay. Let them work out the kinks on someone else’s dollar. In a few months you will spend less on a better version.

  8. Name Brand OTC Medication: The rules governing medications are so strict that the generic version is just as good. You are paying for the emotional comfort they created in their advertising. Go generic to save a couple bucks and buy something that is truly comforting. Like ice cream.

  9. Car Washes: The place down the street from me charges $25 for a car wash. $25! And there is always a line. For $5 in quarters I can wash both my cars in the do-it-yourself stall type car wash around the corner. For the cost of a couple of squirts of soap and a bucket of water I can wash them in my driveway. Put that extra money in the tank instead.

  10. New Books, Movies, or Video Games: There are so many options for buying used media. Most books get read once and the sit on a shelf. And most people take good care of their movies and video games. Video games especially. A lot of people buy video games with the full intention of selling them when they are through. Do your wallet a favor and buy these items used.

Have you spent money on any of these things? I know I have. In fact, I think I’ve spent money on all but two things on this list. Do you have anything to add to my list?

Ashley of Money Talks helps those who are struggling with money to find their way. If you enjoy this article consider subscribing to her feed or following her on twitter.


  • Love your points but I have to disagree with #5 – Children’s Insurance.

    My husband and his sister were born with Cystic Fibrosis – a terminal disease that normally causes death in childhood. My sister-in-law passed from the disease when she was 16 but my husband is still alive today (37 years old) and is a double lung transplant recipient.

    He has around $50,000 worth of life insurance because his father got both children life insurance when they were babies. Of course, my husband cannot get normal life insurance due to his health so this policy will help protect me and our future children. It’s a whole life insurance policy – which I don’t believe in normally – but it will at least help me to pay for his medical costs and bury him.

    For my sister-in-law, it was $25,000 and helped for just those purposes. Her parents were able to pay the medical bills and give her the burial she deserves.

    My aunt also purchased it for her grandchildren and her granddaughter (now 21) has 2 very small children and was just diagnosed with Lupus.

    So, I would say that there are certain circumstances in which life insurance for children is a great idea. Should the child ever become ill during their lives – and not be able to get life insurance to help protect his or her dependents – this is fruitful.

  • Kim

    I have two children that are attorneys and they say never buy any kind of extended warranty. They are not worth the money they are printed on. I have never used an ATM! I won’t pay someone $3.00 to access my money. We don’t have life insurance on the kids. I wish I had had a rider on my life insurance policy when one of our children died. We have never bought a first generation anything. Our checking account is free, never purchased from a telemarketer. Wash our own cars, or earn washes where we fill up. I think I have avoided most of these pitfalls so why am I broke:)

  • I have purchased extended warranties on some items before. I recently received a $360 motor in a dishwasher that went bad after 3 years in exchange for $80 extended warranty. Now it may make a difference that I have 6 kids and the dishwasher gets run twice daily. That is probably about 4 times the normal usage so at least I didn’t have to purchase a new $600 dishwasher.

  • I agree with all of the above! I might add credit card interest. The rates a re too high and there are lines of credit at much lower rates. You should not place anything on a credit card that you can not pay for at the end of the month.

  • The car wash down the street from me is only $5. And I truly love going through the car wash! It’s been a childhood fascination of mine and worth the five bucks twice a year for me!

  • Excellent points, all of them. I try to buy used books whenever I can because most of the time they are in great shape or have minimal damage.

  • Regarding warranties, what about a warranty for a used car? I know it is essentially a gamble, that you think the car will have a costly mechanical problem within the next few years but I think this is a good choice to make.

    • In my own situation I’ve one new car that came with a “bumper to bumper” warranty, and one used car that I bought a warranty for separately. The warranty that came with the new car never actually covered anything that went wrong with it, and the only thing I ever used the warranty that I bought for my used car for would have cost me something like $40 out of pocket instead. So I’m also not a fan of buying warranties in most cases.

  • Daniel

    How about cigarettes.

  • T3Kmitch

    Extended Warranties is a hard one in my opinion. I have personally never bought a warranty on any of my electronics, but I am overly protective of them. My girlfriend on the other hand bought the Best Buy extended warranty for her laptop. The warranty cost almost $300, but she tends to pick it up by the screen, drop it, etc. so she has had a $500 repair completely covered by the warranty, in addition to a brand new battery ($80 value).

    So in my opinion it depends on the person. Also I’d second that credit card interest be added to the list. The shirt you bought on clearance of 15% off isn’t a good deal anymore when you pay 20% interest on it for the next 3 months.

    • It probably also depends on what the extended warranty might cover. Many of them on ly extend the original warranty — which often does not cover damage due to neglect or accidents.

  • Angela

    great tips. it boils down to which and what you should prioritize so as to save time and money.

  • hayden

    I disagree with the life insurance suggestion. Everyone needs to have some form of burial policy, even children. We recently buried my uncle after his unexpected death, no visitation, no open casket, no use of the funeral home, and only a graveside service done by our pastor (free of charge), the casket was nothing special, and only one over-the-casket floral arrangement…his funeral cost $10,000!!!!! The cost included a $680 basic headstone with only the vital information. Three years ago, we buried my grandmother in a similar fashion, and it cost $8,000. A casket alone is $3,000 at most funeral homes. Therefore, at the very least everyone needs probably $15,000 worth of life insurance to simply bury them and that doesn’t include if you have to purchase a plot. The cemetery plots we used were also free. Therefore, that suggestion is definitely bad advice.

    • Children don’t typically die young and so (thankfully!) the chances of needing burial insurance are low. Cremation is much, much cheaper than a burial. I do think it’s sad though when I see people having car washes to raise money for a funeral, which happens where I live.

      I’d argue though that there are bigger issues at work for folks who haven’t yet been able to set aside at least a few thousand dollars in an emergency fund. In that case, and especially if the insurance cost is low and you feel your family is at high risk of using the policy, it could be worthwhile.

  • Jimmy

    You are forgetting the opportunity cost of a car wash. I imagine your $25 car wash includes undercarriage, vacuum, interior windows, and wax. Beside the fact that I haven’t seen a self wash with a lift to wash the salt off the bottom of the car, the time I save from the local wash is well worth the money spent. It would take me at least a half hour to wash it myself. I’d rather be playing with the kids. (Sometimes washing it with them is fun, but never has that ended with a car as clean as from the wash)

    • How long does it take you to get your car washed at the local place? I wonder if the time spent is that much different. Here we don’t have to worry about salt on the roads, so that’s one thing that would matter in some places but not others.

  • Denise Best

    Other things not to buy: Fabric softener. It’s full of chemicals. Note pads to use around the house can easily be made from paper sacks or recycling typing paper that has only been used on one side.