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I know there is the word "spendthrift" — but what word denotes the habit of spending too much money or resources on things that are not essential?

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Please ask one question at a time. Thanks. – RegDwigнt Apr 2 '12 at 0:06
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Any of these:

  • Profligate (n./adj.)
  • Squanderer (n)
  • Prodigal (n./adj.)
  • Waster (n)
  • Wasteful (adj)
  • Thriftless (adj)
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+1 for squander – Jim Apr 2 '12 at 0:13
Annoyingly, ngrams shows that since 1900 use of waster has become as frequent as that of wastrel. – jwpat7 Apr 2 '12 at 0:28

frivolous (adj.)

The frivolous lady would buy anything on a whim

Her frivolity knew no bounds

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Besides simply being wasteful or careless with one's money there is is an expression:

to fritter away : to waste something, such as money, on someone or something, foolishly.

He was known to fritter away huge sums betting on the horses.

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I was just writing an answer suggesting the same thing. Personally, I sometimes use fritterer. Not to describe a truly profligate spendthrift - just someone who's consistently careless about wasting small amounts on non-essentials. Especially if that leads to a situation where they don't have the money for something that is necessary. – FumbleFingers Apr 2 '12 at 0:21
Really, piddler ("One who piddles" ie wastes time) seems better to me than does fritterer (one who makes fritters by deep-frying food coated in batter). – jwpat7 Apr 2 '12 at 4:18
I really don't like it when my dog piddles on the sofa. – Jim Apr 2 '12 at 4:25

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