This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

5 of the Many Ways We're Wasting Money as Consumers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. adults are doing a better job handling household debt, but as the old saying goes, there's always room for improvement.

According to the New York Federal Reserve, U.S. household debt stands at $11.5 trillion, down from $12.7 trillion in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession.

Sure auto loan debt has risen $108 billion in the past nine quarters, but household debt slid by $91 billion just since the first quarter of 2013, the New York Fed reports.

"Although overall debt declined in the second quarter, households did increase non-housing debt, led by rising auto loan balances," said Andrew Haughwout, vice president and research economist at the New York Fed. "Furthermore, households improved their overall delinquency rates for the seventh straight quarter, an encouraging sign going forward."

Americans could pare their personal financial debt down further if they just changed a few bad money habits.

So says Kiplinger's, which is out with a list of common but often overlooked ways U.S. consumers waste money:

Buying brand-name products. Americans waste a lot of money buying brand-name products with "fancy packaging" when they could get more value by buying generic brands. Studies show that brand-name products have an impact on consumers' self-worth, but in actuality it's just paying more for the basically the same product.

Late payments. Kiplinger's says way too many consumers miss monthly debt payments on things such as credit cards and auto loans. That's a big mistake, as late fees eat away at finances and credit score. Fix that bad habit by signing up for automatic payments or asking a creditor to send you a text or email reminding you when your payment is due.

Spending too much on your vehicle. Americans love their cars, vans and trucks, so much so that many consumers opt for premium gasoline over regular gasoline -- which Kiplinger's says is a waste of money. Oil changes are another wallet-drainer. While the conventional wisdom says to change your oil every 3,000 miles, most vehicles operate just fine with an oil change every 5,000 miles.

Paying full price for clothes. Americans also love their clothes, but seem to be in a rush to pay full retail price for that scarf or pair of jeans instead of learning the right times to buy (simply put: at the end of a season). Consumers could also take more advantage of coupon sites such as or

Carrying a monthly debt balance. If you're in the habit of rolling over debt every month, you're losing a surprising amount of money. For example, if you carry a $1,000 credit card balance every month at 18% interest, by the end of the year you've paid an extra $180 on your credit card bill.

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs