We all want to save more money. Every month when the bills pile into our mailboxes, we wish we had a little more wiggle room in our bank accounts. We dream about the luxurious houses we would buy or the brand new cars we would drive if only we had just a bit more in our paychecks. However, you probably do have enough extra income to save up for that dream vacation — you are just spending it first. If you really want to take a step toward a financially sound future, here are some simple places to quit spending cold turkey.
Yes, they’re quick, easy, and on the way to work. Yes, they have all your favorite flavors and ingredients to make your perfect morning cup. However, coffee shops are costing you way more than you think. If you buy even just one $5 coffee every workday, you are spending more than $1,300 a year, and that doesn’t count the barista’s tip or any of the cake balls you impulse buy at the register — or the refills you go back for around 2 p.m.
If you add up your expenditures at your coffee shop and calculate earnings from potentially investing that money, one year’s worth of coffee really costs you about $9,300. After ten years of this kind of spending, your comfortable spending pattern will have cost you that new car you need, and after 30 years, your favorite coffee shop has robbed you of a new house.
Brewing your own coffee at home can be just as quick and delicious as a cup from your favorite shop. If you spend a little more initially for a high quality machine, you’ll soon find yourself wondering what you ever tasted in the burnt beans and over-steamed milk at your old haunt.
You’ve been hearing that tobacco is terrible for you for a long time, but that didn’t stop you from picking up the habit as a young adult, and it sure won’t stop you now. You’re addicted to your nicotine-giving friends, and no amount of financial trickery is going to convince you to give up your smoke breaks.
However, you don’t have to give up your habit to save money. E-cigarettes are a cost-effective — and increasingly cool — new nicotine delivery system that is entirely tobacco-free. While your tobacco use could be costing you more than $3,000 every year, including health care costs, e-cigs require minimal investment and are easier to scale to your nicotine needs. Plus, if you ever do decide to kick the habit, some e-cigs are used as smoking cessation devices, so it will be easy to wean yourself off this spending entirely.
Professional Spa Treatments
Everyone wants to look good, but not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford professional beauty and spa treatments whenever their polish chips. Manicures, facials, and massages may help you unwind from a busy week of work, but they are making that work moot with their exorbitant costs. If you indulge even in just a $20 manicure every week, you’re wasting more than $1,000 a year, and this is on the low end of the spa treatment price spectrum. Weekly or monthly facials or massages are going to set you into no-new-car territory every couple years.
Spa and beauty treatments are relaxing and fulfilling, but they are just another type of activity that can be performed just as effectively and less expensively by yourself. Pick up a bottle of your favorite nail polish color, grab a tube of mud for face masques, and throw on your own soothing music to unwind in the luxury of your own home.
Prepared Foods and Drinks
Eating and drinking outside your home is burning a substantial hole in your pocket. While, as with spa treatments, it can be relaxing to hit up happy hour after work and down a couple drinks with your friends, those $6 drinks are adding up to more than $3,000 a year, or even more if you sip cocktails instead of beers. Plus, if you drink even more heavily than this, you put yourself at risk for health care costs for your liver and other organs. It’s okay to have a night out every couple weeks, but try to encourage your friends to meet at peoples’ houses, where drinks are cheaper, than at the bars or clubs.
Accordingly, if you don’t know how to cook, it’s time to learn. Premade foods either from restaurants or the frozen food section are significantly more expensive than fresh ingredients, and they tend to be worse for you than homemade foods as well.
Depending on the number of meals you eat outside your home, you could be wasting anywhere from $450 to $5,000 on food every year. Even if you are inexperienced in the kitchen, it’s worth it to experiment with preparing your own meals.
Just because you’re trying to save and grow your money doesn’t mean you need to punish yourself. It’s okay to splurge every once in a while on a nice meal out or a fancy coffee drink. However, if you make these comforts into habits, you are risking the opportunity to improve your lifestyle down the road. Spend smart and you’ll see yourself in a huge house, with a nice car, ready to take a luxury vacation.