Cut These Habits Out of Your Life and Your Wallet Will Thank You
Written By: Taylor Rao
We’re all a little guilty of pulling out the credit card for small purchases or impulse buys and saying, “Hey, it’s just a little bit of money.” But have you ever thought about how much more you might have in your savings account if you cut the reckless spending? (Reckless might be a harsh word, but for some of us it’s accurate).
It makes sense why sometimes we don’t think twice about an extra glass of wine at dinner or let items that weren’t anywhere on your shopping list slide down the conveyor belt at Target. We’re living in a time where 8 out of 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and the average student loan debt is $39,400 and growing. So, when the opportunity arises to #treatyoself, you do because you’ve earned it and enough of your money goes out the door before you ever get to see it in your bank account.
But, as fun as it can be to shell out for something you usually wouldn’t have, there are some bad spending habits that will boost your bank account big time if you cut them loose right now.
Shipping and delivery charges
We all love the feeling when something amazing arrives at our doorstep, whether it’s the delivery guy with a large cheese pizza or FedEx with your new pair of stilettos. But, shipping fees and delivery charges can add up real fast --especially when you’re ordering items you could easily swing by and grab on your way home from work.
Order minimums: When scrolling through GrubHub and deciding what you want, look at the minimum spend for each restaurant. If you’re spending a solo night on the couch watching the newest season of The Sinner, is it really worth it to order $20 worth of food just for yourself? Not only are you overspending, but you’re probably overeating too.
Delivery charges: Step 2 to the above is figuring out how much it’s going to cost you to get that late night snack to your door. Yeah, sometimes it’s OK to pay for convenience, but consider the upside of going out of your way to place an order over the phone for pick-up instead (hint: more money in your wallet).
Shipping: Online shopping has obviously taken over our lives, but before you fill your cart up and check out, see if there’s a promo code or a purchase minimum to earn free shipping. Only buying one thing? Maybe hold on until you find a few more items you want or need. Or, see if there’s a buy online, pick up in store option that will add a trip, but save you the shipping cost.
This one is going to sting a little bit -- especially if you’re a hustler out there working long shifts or taking care of a family. But a coffee a day, whether it’s the $1 special at McDonald’s or a $5 venti cold foam coffee at Starbucks, adds up over time to a shocking amount. You’ve probably formed a legitimate habit of rolling up to the drive-thru five days a week, but if your budget is tight, try a different approach (and no, we’re not recommending to cut out the coffee run completely --that would just be crazy).
Pick even just a day or two per week where a coffee on the go is 100 percent necessary --say the day you work the longest hours, when you’re on a deadline for a project or are simply just running the kids around for an entire day. Those are the days you can use a little morning or midday boost, but the rest of the time, take a cup to go or simply suck it up and survive without.
When you’re actively trying to save money, the last thing you want to do is miss a payment either A) because you’ve overspent and can’t afford to settle up or B) you just forgot to pay. Credit cards, gym memberships, student loans and so many more monthly expenses are begging for you to set up a recurring autopay account where you never have to worry about sending a check on time ever again.
We all have our own beauty routine, from the makeup we’re convinced we need the brand-name vs. drugstore version, to the various waxing and maintenance we do to make ourselves feel good. And if one of those routine tasks is spending every three weeks in the chair at the nail salon, chances are you’re wasting at least $50 on nail care when a few bottles of polish at home will have the same effect.
And of course, just like coffee, this is a hard habit to break cold turkey (especially if you prefer gel or ANC nails which are not only more expensive, but more damaging to your nails over time). Start by skipping the pedicures and the $10 chair massage and go for your regular manicure to start saving just a little. Then, brush up on your own painting skills at home and see the savings account, to rise.
All joking aside, “Treat Yo Self” is more than just a funny bit from the TV show Parks and Recreation. It’s become a common gif, meme, hashtag, and phrase for literally treating yourself, AKA going shopping when you’ve had a bad day and buying something to boost your spirits.
The old school phrase for this is retail therapy, and while it can provide short-term benefits, the financial implications can leave you with a whole lot of buyer’s remorse. Instead of heading straight for the mall when you’ve had a stressful day, blow off steam another way like sweating during a boxing workout or giving your best gal pal a call so you can vent it out.
Eating Out (during the work week)
As a 20-something or as a social person in general, it’d be nearly impossible to cut going out for a bite to eat out of your routine entirely. As hard as you’d try, saying no to friendly get-togethers or spur or the moment breakfast meetups would leave you feeling unfulfilled (and probably a little hungry, too). Going out to dinner for a meal with a friend or group is about more than just spending money --it’s an opportunity to put the phones away, enjoy some company and soak up a different atmosphere all while enjoying some good food.
But, grabbing breakfast on your way to the office or stopping out for lunch every day is not as socially satisfying; you’re simply doing it out of A) the need to eat and B) probably laziness (sorry!) or lack of time to prepare these foods at home. You’d be much better off spending a little bit of extra money at the grocery store on Sunday than by racking up $8-12 bills every day at your local eatery near the office.
When it comes to saving money, the key is to start small. We will always want to indulge for pleasure and to take away the feeling of the weight of the world on our shoulders (AKA bills and other financial responsibilities). So, don’t feel pressured to live so simply that there is no room for enjoyment --that’s not the point. Putting a few dollars away and working on forming these habits over time will leave you feeling balanced, accomplished and yes, hopefully a little richer.