Everyday Money

Personal Money Pits

September 26, 2019

Little things that cost a lot. Everybody has those things we spend little amounts on regularly, maybe it’s lunch, coffee, manicures, golf, pizza, music, or movies.

It’s hard to imagine how it all might add up. And the reality is that each dollar spent today isn’t available for something else tomorrow. These little purchases may have a way of robbing us of the things we really want.

Most people haven’t stopped to consider whether that daily coffee is truly precious to our well-being, or if it’s just a habit. If it’s precious, it’s worth doing – at least part of the time. But is it worth giving up that convertible you could have otherwise purchased?

The presumption of these is that if you hadn’t spent the money, you would have saved it and earned an average of 8% on your investments. That’s probably high, but for example purposes, it’ll do.

Some spending habits to consider (CBS News):

ExpenseToday10 Years30 Years
Pizza Delivery$25/week$20,211$171,928
Lunch at Work$10/day$37,231$316,983

This is an average of $34,000 over 10 years. How could you spend this wisely?

  • Save for retirement
  • Save for a down payment
  • Pay off debt
  • Enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle

How could you spend this on more fun stuff?

  • 2019 BMW 2 Series or 2019 Infiniti Q50
  • Charter a crewed yacht in the Caribbean for 1 week
  • Rihanna’s purse collection
  • 654 pairs of Chuck Taylor shoes

Bottled water costs about $1.35/bottle. If you drink 2 per day (even though you should drink more), that’s $985/year!

  • If all the water you use at home costs as much as the average bottled water, it would cost you $9,000 (insert shocked face emoji here, are we right?!).
ItemSpent Per Year
Dining Out$1,800
Entertainment – movies, concerts, attractions…$2,500
Clothes and related items$1,700
Holiday purchases and gifts$700

Where can you cut costs?

  • Request a credit card rate reduction
    • If you pay your bill on time every month, call up your credit card company and request a rate reduction. Especially if you have a high balance. They may be willing to negotiate.
  • Sell unused items
    • Dig through closets and attics for items you no longer use that may have value, then sell them on eBay or Craigslist.
  • Energy Bills
    • Install CFL or LED light bulbs, could save you $40/year or more
    • Install a programmable thermostat, automatically changing the heating and cooling when you’re not at home or asleep so you can save.
    • Unplug unused electrical devices.
    • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
      • The hot water heater accounts for about 14% of energy costs.
  • Reduce or eliminate your cable bill
  • Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions you don’t have time to read
  • Shop around for homeowners and auto insurance, or bundle them together
  • Buy generic when you can
  • Use public transportation or carpool to work
  • Lower your cell phone bill
    • If you don’t use all your data, perhaps consider a less expensive plan without all the bells and whistles

Another thing to try is to record each and every purchase you make for a month or two by keeping a spreadsheet or using an app such as Mint or Personal Capital.

Chances are you’ll find there are ways you could cut back and save some extra money.

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