10 Wasteful Practices You Should Stop Today

Money Toilet PaperNormally, I try to persuade readers to plug spending leaks that cost meaningful sums of cash. Housing, transportation, and insurance immediately come to mind.

However, that doesn’t mean I think small things are unimportant.

For some reason, we’re perfectly content throwing money away on certain items. We can increase our savings within the next 24 hours if we simply stop wasting money.

Admittedly, I haven’t adopted a zero waste lifestyle. What can I say? When you live in a land of abundant wealth, a set amount of money is pretty much predestined for the receptacle. All right, fine, perhaps I could try harder.

But in the meantime, you don’t honestly believe my imperfection will stop me from judging those who are worse than me, do you? You do? Well, allow me to disappoint you.

Here’s a compilation of ten wasteful habits that you can (and should) end right now.

1. Using Too Much Toilet Paper

I have an unnatural affinity for two-ply, mega rolls of ultra soft toilet paper. So I understand I’m about to tackle a touchy subject.

Yes, I’m frugal, but through good times and bad, there’s one product of which I insist on the highest quality–toilet paper.

After hosting Airbnb guests for over a year, I’ve learned that some people will consume an obscene amount of tissue no matter what. It could be 1/4 inch thick and 10-ply.

Don’t get me wrong. Use however much is necessary to get the job done. But I’m convinced some women are using craaaazy amounts of toilet tissue. If all you’ve done is number one, you don’t need an entire half inch thick mitten of paper to wipe! I mean, WTF? How does one person burn through a roll of tissue a day?

2. Using the Toilet as a Trash Can

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it takes up to seven gallons of water to flush a toilet. Assuming you have a wastebasket in your bathroom like most civilized people, you could just as easily toss chewing gum wrappers and expired drugs in there. Doing so allows you to eliminate a step since garbage bins don’t require flushing.

3. Leaving the Water on While Brushing Your Teeth

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes. While a bathroom faucet spits out two gallons of water per minute.

Let’s crunch the numbers, shall we?

2 minutes x 2 gallons x 2 times a day x 365 days a year equals . . .

So annually, this extraordinary act of laziness wastes about 2,900 gallons of potable water. How long does it take to shut the faucet off? Half a second?

4. Squeezing a Long Glob of  Toothpaste onto Your Toothbrush

Since we’re on the subject of teeth, you’re probably using more toothpaste than you need. You wouldn’t know it from advertisements, but all you need is a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste to get the job done. Flossing and brushing properly are the most important components of dental health. Knowing this, I won’t pay over $1 for a tube of toothpaste. And I always pocket whatever is leftover from a hotel stay. As a result, I can get away with spending about two or three bucks on toothpaste all year.

5. Turning the Shower On Well in Advance of Taking a Shower

After this one I promise we’ll get out of the bathroom. Be prepared to hop in the shower when you turn on the water. If you gotta cook breakfast, give the cat her insulin shot, check your email, just leave the shower off. It’s obvious, but if I didn’t know people who were guilty of this behavior, I wouldn’t mention it.

6. Using Paper Towels to Clean Up Large Spills

I find it wholly unacceptable for someone to reach for six or seven heavy duty paper towels to clean up a spilled cup of juice. What’s wrong with a mop? If the accident occurred on a counter top, use a sponge. If that doesn’t do the trick, grab a towel.

7. Putting Too Much Milk in Cold Cereal

When I was a kid, my mom forced us to drink whatever milk was left after we finished our cereal. If you didn’t want to drink what amounted to a large glass of sugary, crumb filled milk, then you’d be well advised to use less. Of course, not every household has this rule. So good milk–and good money–is poured down the drain.

8. Overusing Household Cleaners

A while back, FB revealed that, most of the time, she doesn’t use detergent to wash her laundry. Her admission inspired me to change a wasteful habit. Although I still use detergent in every load of laundry, I’m down to a quarter of what I used before. And you know what? My clothes and linens are as clean as ever.

9. Leaving Peanut Butter, Mayonnaise, and Other Spreads in the Spoon

Not only is this nasty, but it’s unnecessary. The easiest solution is to use a knife. But even if you prefer a spoon, is it too troublesome to use a corner of the bread to scoop out the remainder of the spread? How about we try this? Start with a small amount and add on as needed.

10. Applying Too Much Foundation

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You don’t need makeup; you have great skin!” Oddly, the majority of people who say this have never seen me without makeup. So how do I trick them into thinking I have flawless skin? Concealer.

I told one of my friends how concealer changed my life, and she replied “I don’t have time for that.” Oh, but you have time to pile  seven coats of foundation onto your face? Not only does too much foundation look unnatural, but it’s expensive. By applying concealer to the problem areas only, you can hide skin discoloration without slathering on a pound of foundation every morning.

True, the money you save from using less toothpaste won’t pay for your retirement. And turning the water off while you brush your teeth probably won’t help you become debt free one day sooner than estimated. But no matter how small the amount of money we’re talking about, there’s no point in being wasteful.

About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.