The Biggest Money Wasters of 2010

  • Hidden Fees and Rip-Offs

    There’s nothing more aggravating to a consumer than finding out you’ve been overcharged or tricked into buying something you didn’t need. So throughout this year, MainStreet has brought you dozens of money wasters that you should avoid. Here are a few of the biggest money wasters that you should keep in mind as you try to make 2011 a year of savings. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Cell Phone Early Termination Fees
  • Cell Phone Early Termination Fees

    Everyone and their mother owns a cell phone now, but not everyone realizes the extra fees that cell phone companies can charge, ranging from the cost of activating the phone to monthly fees for emergency roadside assistance. But neither of these compare to the early termination fees consumers get slammed with when canceling a contract early. In the past few years, consumers were charged anywhere from $100 to $200 for abandoning their cell phone provider prematurely. Recently, however, some companies like AT&T have begun to penalize consumers more than $300 for early cancellations, so you should definitely think twice before doing so. Photo Credit: nobmouse
    Non-Bank ATM Fees
  • Non-Bank ATM Fees

    Anyone with a debit card has likely been hit by an ATM fee at one point or another, and probably more than once. Typically, these fees range from $1 to $4 depending on the bank, and there is some speculation that it could become even more expensive down the road as banks compensate for the financial reform bill passed earlier this year. Yet, regardless of whether these fees cost $1 or $10, consumers should rarely be forced to pay them. You can use a bank that covers the cost of ATM fees, get cash back on your purchases while shopping or try any number of smartphone apps that locate ATMs nearby that don’t charge fees. Photo Credit: thinkpanama
    College Textbooks
  • College Textbooks

    Many college students have probably just received their reading lists for the next semester, so take this opportunity to do some smart shopping before school resumes. The average college student spends $1,122 each year on college books, but you can cut down on that by purchasing the books used on sites like Amazon and, searching for free versions of the books online at, renting the textbooks through, or buying them as e-books, which are usually cheaper. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Baggage Fees
  • Baggage Fees

    After several years of cutting back, consumers began to travel again this year, only to be whacked with extra fees and security procedures. While we can’t do much to help you out of that pat-down, you may be able to avoid that menacing baggage fee. Some credit cards cover the cost of baggage fees, and some hotels offer promotions to do the same. If that doesn’t work, consider traveling on one of three major domestic airlines that don’t charge for checking your first bag. Photo Credit: hoyasmeg
    Gym Membership Alternatives
  • Gym Membership Alternatives

    It’s that time of year when most Americans probably have the same thought on their mind: I should join a gym and follow through on my never-ending New Year’s resolution to get fit. But before you do, take a moment to think about what exercises you really want to do.More likely than not, you can do most of these without spending hundreds of dollars a year on a gym membership. You can run and bike for cardio exercises, do push-ups and squats to work on your mid-region and buy cheap weights or use household objects to improve your upper-body strength. If you do feel the need to join a gym, then be sure to do so in the next few weeks. Gyms traditionally offer the biggest discounts in late December and early January in order to attract consumers looking to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. Photo Credit:
    Leaving Your Xbox Plugged In
  • Leaving Your Xbox Plugged In

    Video games can be very beneficial for improving visual skills and helping with physical therapy, but one thing they do not help with is your electric bill. If you leave your Xbox plugged in all the time, the energy it uses will end up costing you more than $100 a year. The same is true with your television, DVD player and other gadgets. So whenever possible, unplug your electronics when they are not in use. Photo Credit: shaymus22
    Water Heaters
  • Water Heaters

    The average family spends about $500 a year on water heating. Now, obviously, we're not telling you to get rid of your water heater, but one thing you can do is lower the heat. According to Energy Star, many families waste up to $60 a year because they keep their heaters too high, at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Just take it down a notch and you’ll see real savings. Photo Credit: aresauburn
    Pricey Anti-Wrinkle Cream
  • Pricey Anti-Wrinkle Cream

    Some people are so desperate to fight off the effects of aging that they will believe any and all claims made about anti-aging products in advertisements. But often, with these products, the cheaper options are actually the best ones. Case in point: anti-wrinkle creams. Some of these can cost $100 or more, yet studies show that $20 options like Olay Regenerist Collection are just as good at preventing wrinkles, if not better. Photo Credit: notsogoodphotography
    Holiday Decorations
  • Holiday Decorations

    With Christmas over, planning for the holidays is probably the last thing on your mind. But as we’ve reported several times before, now is actually the best time to make your holiday plans. Take a few minutes to shop for holiday decorations this week, as most stores will have insane discounts to clear out whatever supply they have left. It may sound silly, but at least this way you won’t have to run around next holiday season and spend big bucks prepping for the holidays. Photo Credit: warrenski
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