According to a new survey, a lot of Americans are blowing their budgets by eating out too often. Surveying 2000 U.S. residents and using data from the USDA’s Cost of Food at Home reports, Hloom—a company that makes templates for resumes, invoices, and the like—dug into what people feel they’re wasting their money on.
While the answers varied based on age and gender, across the board, people listed eating out as their top money-waster (of the expenditures they'd be willing to cut back on). Almost 69 percent of all respondents said they spent too much money on restaurants.
A quarter of respondents admitted to wasting their cash on alcohol, and almost a fifth admitted to throwing money away on credit card interest. More than 30 percent said they wasted money by letting food expire or otherwise go uneaten, though few were willing to try to change that.
However, more than 17 percent of respondents said they weren’t wasteful with their money, to which we say, who are you, and do you know about online shopping?
More women admitted to wasting money than men: Almost 20 percent of men consider themselves nonwasteful, the study found, compared to 14 percent of women. But that may have a lot more to do with societal pressures to spend money on beauty and personal care (one study found women who wore makeup to work got paid more) and the higher prices women face for purchases like hair cuts and dry cleaning—not to mention cultural stereotypes that women are bad with money and love to shop til they drop—than the reality of people's budgets.
What you think of as a waste of money also varies by generation. Most Millennials aren't worried about wasting money on cable bills, but do say they're spending too much on streaming services:
It’s important to note that this is a self-reported survey, meaning that it’s not about what people are actually wasting their money on, but rather what they perceive as a waste of money. One person may think $500 a month spent on restaurants and bars is a huge waste of money, while another may consider it a normal part of life. Just because Millennials don't list cigarettes as one of their money-wasters doesn't mean they're not smoking, necessarily—just that they don't think it's a waste of their cash.
Let’s not forget, though, that forgoing your daily latte will never make you rich. As financial experts and sociologists have pointed out, most people in America aren’t bankrupting themselves buying luxuries like fancy coffee or meals out. Over the past few decades, while the prices of education, housing, healthcare, and gas have risen significantly, salaries have gone down. So yes, paying your credit card bill off in full every month should be a big priority, but living like a hermit and never buying a meal out is a poor substitute for meaningful public policy that makes necessary purchases like health care and rent affordable.
All images courtesy Hloom