Have you ever thought about how much money people waste in a given day? Today, I tried to keep track of all of the waste that I witnessed and I was rather surprised, given our economy, how cavalierly people will still waste their financial resources. It made me think back to a time, about 15 years ago, when I was far less frugal, and I was pleased that I have come so far with my financial approach to my life. Indeed, I realized that rather than trying not to waste money, I am at a point in my financial life in which I can actually consistently find ways to spend less while enjoying more.
But back to my original question – have you ever thought about how much money people waste in a given day? That is what I spent today wondering, so I tried to keep track of all of the waste that I witnessed, and here is what I found:
7:12am: I made my Saturday morning trip to the grocery store. Before I had even traveled the three miles to the grocery store, I saw not one, but two, motorists who had been pulled over by the side of the road and were receiving tickets. The minimum ticket on that particular street is about $128. There are also stop lights on that particular street every 2 to 3 miles. Apart from being dangerous and a tremendous waste of gasoline, speeding was not going to get those drivers down the road any faster because they would always be detained by the stop lights. Rather, speeding can only get them ticketed – a tremendous waste.
7:19am As I walked into the grocery store, two people were standing in line to use the ATM while a third fellow used it. There is a two dollar charge at the ATM, a charge that those users might have avoided if they had gone to their own bank or made their purchase at the grocery store using their cash cards (and requesting cash back). That is a $2 waste per person that will be repeated over and over throughout the day.
7:59am I checked out at the grocery store. The three people in line ahead of me had no coupons, even though our local paper had a $5 coupon for our grocery store earlier this week. Shopping without coupons is a huge waste and one that will be repeated throughout the day.
8:06am As I walked out of the grocery store, a young man was using the change coverter at the front of the store. He will feed his loose change into the machine and can then exchange his receipt for cash at the customer service desk. The machine retains an 8% commission. Whatever happened to rolling money?
12:30pm My younger son finished his baseball game. As we prepared to leave, we heard several kids demand that they be taken out for lunch. The four families who were in hearing range of us agreed to go out to eat. That amounts to 19 people at an estimated cost of $10 per person, spread over 4 families. We ate at home for a cost of about $6 – one homemade pizza with salad for three people and leftovers for a fourth.
2:45pm I washed my car. My son washed my car. A neighbor then hired him to wash his car for $15. My son saw the value of demonstrating a good work ethic. My neighbor has a son the same age as mine so why was he paying my son to wash his car?
3:53pm A neighbor mentioned that she had planned to go out earlier in the day but was already too tired to do so. As a result, she explained, she would have to pay a fine at the library ($1 per day per DVD and she had 6 DVDs that would not be checked in until Monday – two days from now), plus she would probably have to pay a credit card bill by phone because she had missed today’s mail (a $25 charge she explained). She asked me if I knew of any ways to get out of paying the fines and I explained that it was very easy – don’t procrastinate.
5:08pm I went for a walk. A neighbor had already put out his trash (odd since today is Saturday and trash day is Monday) and I found several compact discs and a few DVDs that work just fine sitting in a box, free for the taking. They could easily have been sold for a few dollars on eBay. For that matter, our subdivision garage sale day is only 3 weeks away.
5:49pm I found 27 cents (two dimes, one nickel and two pennies) lying on the sidewalk. Who was careless enough to leave them there?
6:37pm I took one of sons to an ice-cream parlor since he had a free ice cream coupon. He called two of his friends who also received the very same coupons today but they had already lost their coupons (in about 6 hours time).
I think you get the picture. Every day, people throw away money as a result of carelessness, disorganization, procrastination and impatience. How much money have you seen wasted today? Where do you see people wasting money? Where have you wasted money?