Debt Finances & Money Frugality

The 5 Biggest Wastes of Time and Money

(Guest Post by Jason)

For years I followed the status quo: spent lots of money and accepted living paycheck-to-paycheck, not saving for retirement, and racking up credit cards as the normal way of operating my finances.

This fabulous way of living led to years of partying, having a blast, and included numerous front row concerts, sporting events, and eating out at every fine dining establishment that Kansas City offered.

Despite the fun that my glitz-and-glamor lifestyle provided, it came with a consequence: serious amounts of debt that piled up, waiting for the right moment to drown me. Throughout my college years I borrowed as much money as I could which was followed by years of maxing out credit cards (thank God they had low limits) and taking out personal loans. When all was said and done my personal debt totaled $60,000.

While I’ve learned a lot in the last 6 years, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that following the status quo only leads to disaster. As a financial advisor and personal finance coach, I’ve been given the unique opportunity to see what traps people fall into and discover areas within their finances that cripple most families.

While I’m unquestionably cheap, I’m also a business owner and an efficiency freak. I’ve found in my years of coaching that there is a correlation between managing time well and managing money well. Many people that are strapped for time and lead unorganized lives, very often have trouble managing finances and even finding the time to do so.

While some of these categories may be sensitive subjects for you, eliminating some of these things from your life will prove to save you both time and money. As I told my brother years ago: it’s often best to watch what everybody else is doing and do the exact opposite.

The 5 Biggest Wastes of Time & Money

1. Kid’s Select Sports

Who in the world thinks it’s okay to pay $2,000+/season for your kid to play traveling baseball or be on an AAU basketball team? What the hell is wrong with you?

Your kid won’t make it to the big leagues. They’ll even be lucky to get a scholarship to go to college! If your child is really “gifted” then maybe this is okay, but only if you’re not going into debt, saving properly for retirement, AND saving for your kid’s college.

I have a novel idea: how about you encourage them to read and use the 5 nights a week of practice to study for school. How much time could you save if you weren’t playing the role of a taxi driver running your kids to a different function every night?

2. Driving

As our country has grown and cities have expanded in geographic area, it’s not uncommon to meet people that drive 30-45 minutes each day to work.

Driving is literally a waste of time and money. You might as well flush the cash down the toilet or make it rain like “Packman” Jones – at least the latter would prove to be a wiser use of your benjamins.

My wife and I recently decided we’re sick of accepting long drives as the normal way of living. We’re currently working on selling our house to move 25 minutes closer to our jobs. We’re looking at saving $200/month on gas, thousands of miles a year of wear-and-tear on our cars, and adding 1 hour of “free time” to our daily schedules. This small change also means we’ll add years of usage on our cars; who wouldn’t be down for saving $15k-25k every 5 years when taking into account all we’d be saving?

3. High-End Cell Phones

The Apple/tech cult is almost as bad as the Dave Ramsey brigade. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of technology and the advances that allow our lives to be lived more efficiently, but you can’t deny that the status quo has just gone overboard in regard to all things tech related.

I recently wanted to slap myself when I discovered that I could take my $200/month cell phone bill and pare it down to all of $80/month. How? By giving up the iPhone/AT&T combo and pimping a package from places like Cricket or Page Plus Cellular. This isn’t to blatantly promote these companies, but I had no clue I could get unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, and 100MB of data for $40/month.

4. Cable Television

It’s hard to live without cable…I know that. I haven’t had it in over 2 years.

But how can you say you’re a dad when you spend every free minute of the day sitting your ass on the couch soaking up the mind-numbing crap they put on the TV these days?

Play with your kids, read a book, cook a meal, talk to your wife gasp!, and go do something productive.

5. Luxury Cars and Fancy Houses

Feeding your ego and self-image is a problem no American has sarcasm, but who really needs 6 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, two man caves, and a wine cellar that holds 1000 bottles of wine? Unless you’re going to be the next “Kate Plus 8” and starring on TLC then I’d suggest that you’re just wasting your money.

While it’d be nice to drive around in a Porsche, Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, or the even higher-end luxury cars, you should know you’re not fooling anybody but yourself. If you’re trolling around in one of those cars then statistics tell us that it’s more likely you’re a high income-earner (or simply upper-middle class) and not somebody of any real wealth. Stop stroking your ego and trying to “say something” to your friends and coworkers. Save yourself some money, buy a Honda or Toyota, and start investing the difference in things that don’t drop faster than Bill Clinton’s pants. Sorry, had to borrow that from Leno.

What things irk you that have become accepted by the masses? Has following the status quo ever lead you in the wrong direction?

Jason is a financial advisor and Dave Ramsey-trained counselor that blogs over at WorkSaveLive. He aims to educate his readers on a variety of financial topics while sharing his family’s journey out of debt.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Agreed on cable television! We got rid of ours a few years ago as well and never looked back! I tell people now that I don’t have a TV and they look at me like there is something wrong with me, but I don’t mind. 🙂

  • I get the same reaction. People will always start talking about new shows or commercials they’ve seen…and then they remember we don’t watch TV. It’s pretty hilarious.

    Life is so different when you don’t waste it all sitting on the couch.

  • I’m one of those people who completely accepts that others can and do live without tv and cable (I don’t judge or think you are nuts), BUT you would have to pry the remote to mine out of my cold, dead fingers and even then, I would haunt you. Yep, I like the tv. I love DVR.

    My mind is constantly on, I am going, going, going…sometimes, I am so into stuff that I can’t even concentrate long enough to read a few pages of a good book. So my tv is like a massage or therapist – calms my mind long enough for it to really rest before I jump back into the fray. But yes, I do know that I spend a significant amount of time and money on my “therapy”, lol.

  • Thanks for the vary basic, yet critically important tips!

    I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to live without cable television, fancy houses and cars and phone plans for quite some time. Instead of financing a fancy car I opted for a cheap Nissan Versa. My cell is a prepaid Net10 at just $10/mo. I have no cable television yet get over 40 HD channels from my wall hookup. I hardly ever drive (only to the grocery store), otherwise commute by cheap monthly train passes and shuttles. The only thing I’m terrible at is living in a pricey apartment.

  • re: driving (#2), there are definitely other factors that come into play like where you work, whether you live in a big city or in the suburbs, and also the cost of housing.

    For example you may save “$200 a month” on driving less but if you paid $200,000 more for a house that’s a lot closer to work / closer to everything, which is a better deal? I think there’s always a cost/benefit analysis that comes into play. and that includes commute time and personal preference. To me 30 minute commute is not a big deal but i grew up in the country, so am used to driving. I think an hour each way is too long but some people use the time in the car to listen to audio books, etc. make lemonade out of lemons 🙂

    Also some people like to live out in the country along with the “extra costs” that that entails there are other benefits too. Living right next to where you work isn’t always feasible or affordable.

  • I don’t mind my commute because I like living in a central part of the cities (we literally are in between two giant cities). While my job is in a suburb and the commute can be crappy, I adjust my hours to miss the really heavy traffic. I think it’s a worthwhile investment as most of what we do (besides my job) is near where our home is and the housing market will always have demand for the location we bought our home.

  • I was chatting with a co-worker the other day and the whole conversation was an example of why I am so ill suited for my tech support job. She was going on and on and on about how cool a home automation system would be and how everything could be done remotely and how efficient one’s house would be. All I could think of was a) the cost of this totally unnecessary-unless-you-are-a-zillionaire-super-famous-type-who-needs-to-keep-away-stalkers technology b) how often it will break c) how much time and effort would be spent getting it to work. Like Sam said, just chasing the next shinny object.

    I will stick to turning off my own lights without the use of my 2007 ($100 a year) dumb phone.

  • I actually pay about $25 every 3 months for my cell phone through page plus. I used to have the data plan and the $40 a month, but found a free app that let’s me make phone calls through my phone (for free) through my wireless. SCORE! With the money I am saving, I putting it directly into my school fund.

    The only part I disagree with is commuting. Yes it is a waste of time and money, but with the money I save where I live it is actually less than living closer to any job. It sucks not to have the extra time for whatever, but I save more than if I lived in one of the closer cities. Very sad.

  • A very good post by an informed financial professional. The key ‘take-home’ message is very important but too often overlooked by many:

    There is nothing wrong with spending (and even being extravagant on occasion) BUT it is essential to ensure that not ALL expenditure is OTT all of the time. As pointed out: in very many cases you can save 30%, 40%, 50% or more just by shopping around or chosing a less glamorous set-up. Not ‘rocket science’ but essential for all those of us who are not yet billionaires ! 😉

  • I was paying my cable bill each month and realized I only watched maybe two shows regularly. So, I dropped my cable and just watched what’s available on digital over-the-air. I seriously still have like 20 channels complete with home improvement shows, cooking shows, my local sports teams… etc… all in glorious HD. And let me tell you, over-the-air HD has a better picture than that compressed HD you get from cable.

    And.. it’s FREE!

    Couple that with Crackle .. for free streaming movies and shows. High-speed internet required… unless your neighbor left his/her wifi open… then that’s free too. 😉

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