Pointless ATM Fees
You should never have to pay money to access your money. But around the end of last year, the average ATM fee was about $2.40, and the fees seem to be only going up.
These fees also add up, but they're totally avoidable if you withdraw at your own bank, though that may mean going an extra few blocks to your bank branch, or switching to a bank with more convenient locations. Alternately, you could consider an online-only bank like Ally or ING, which lets their customers use any out-of-network ATMs they want and reimburses them for the fees.
Savings: $125 a year (if you avoid a weekly ATM fee)
The Same Dress You Already Own 10 Of
Okay, okay, it's a different shade of red and the neckline is a little bit different, but you don't really need another dress like that. Or top, or pair of shoes, or purse.
Savings: $500 a year (if you skip one "why not" wardrobe purchase a month). More if your old stuff offsets the cost of your new expenditures.
Buying lottery tickets is a fun exercise in wishful thinking, but you're essentially throwing your money away. The $5 you might spend on one big-number ticket could turn into more than $100 over time, if you invested it for retirement*. When you "invest" it in the lotto, it just turns into $0.
Savings: $260 a year (if you save on a weekly $5 ticket); $5,650 if you invested that amount for retirement*
*If you're 25 now and will retire at 65, with an 8% rate of return on your investments.
Actual, Physical DVDs
If you're an avid movie watcher, consider subscribing to a service like Netflix or Hulu Plus instead, so you can stream as many movies as you want for as little as $8 a month. If you're only an occasional watcher, you can rent movies online from services like Amazon and iTunes for around $2-$5.
Savings: $180 a year (if you buy a $15 DVD once a month)
We understand it's only human to buy lunch at work now and again, but doing it regularly will take a toll on your wallet.
Some better ideas? You can repurpose your leftovers so you don't have to make a new meal every day. You can also assemble your lunch at the office, if it's appropriate where you work.
Savings: $1,092 a year (if you buy a $10 lunch three days a week, compared to $3 if you bring your own)
Regular Movies, Just in 3-D
3-D movies are often a way for movie companies to make extra dough, because it allows them to charge more per ticket to the same movie. Before shelling out more, ask yourself, what else could you do with the $3 or $4 extra you spent on the fancier ticket?
Bottom line: Seeing "Avatar" in 3-D? Probably worth it. Paying to see the re-release of "Finding Nemo" in theaters just to see it in 3-D? Probably not.
Savings: $96 a year (if you opt for a 2-D movie instead of 3-D twice a month)
Hardcover of a Book You Won't Reread
In this digital age--and given the gift that is the public library--you shouldn't be spending the big bucks on a hardcover book unless it's your all-time favorite and you know you're going to want it as a headliner on your bookshelf for years to come.
Hardcover books are, on average, more than $32, whereas paperbacks are more like $16. So you could save half the price of your next book (even more than that, if you're really not going to reread it and you sell it). And that's not even counting getting books for free at the library.
Savings: $384 a year (if you buy one hardcover book a month for $32 each)
Eco-Unfriendly Bottled Water
If you don't like the taste of plain old tap water, filtration systems are pretty inexpensive, like this $26 one from InstaPure (replacement filters cost under $20). For a system you don't have to install in any way, you could get a basic Brita pitcher for as little as $12.
Savings: up to $1,400 per year