What 20-something hasn’t looked at their bank account and felt the sinking realization that the number is far lower than expected? It’s a common dilemma, as common as the habits that make it a reality. You might think you’re being responsible with your money, while depleting your funds quicker than ever before. Luckily, there are easy fixes for our unnecessary spending habits, and I’ve laid them out below.
Eating Dinner Out
If you’re anything like me, you love a good meal out. Unfortunately, this is one of those habits that’s killing your wallet bit by bit. Instead of picking up fast food or meeting your friends at a restaurant, practice cooking at home. Make meals ahead of time, and take your lunch to work to avoid that mid-day slump that inspires you to run to the nearest drive-thru and gorge yourself. You’ll save more money than you can even imagine. If it’s the social factor of a sit-down restaurant you crave, invite your friends over for a potluck. Just as fun, but at half the cost.
Smoking Ruins More than Your Lungs
Less people are smoking now than ever before, which is awesome to hear, but if you’re still smoking, it’s high time you quit. If you’ve got a regular habit, you’re spending thousands and thousands each year—for something that’s killing you. If you find that you just can’t quit, at least try to cut back or experiment with an alternative. E-cigarettes from big companies like NJOY have been said to be about 95% safer than their tobacco counterparts—and some of them are reusable, meaning you won’t be blowing money on a new pack of cigarettes every single day.
That Java Addiction
Americans spend shocking amounts of money on designer coffee each year, and this may come as no surprise considering the consistently long lines at Starbucks. You might think a few bucks each day for your java fix is a small price to pay, but consider that the average American spends over $1,000 each year on coffee. Instead of spending hundreds each month, brew your own coffee at home. More often than not it tastes better, will be fresher, and is guaranteed to save you bunches of money. If you want to make a large initial investment for a lifetime of coffee convenience, consider grabbing yourself a Keurig that can brew special individual cups whenever you please.
One Drink, Two Drink, Three
Alcohol can be fun for some people, sure, but it’s a huge money suck. Heading out to a bar with a credit card is a surefire way to spend way more than you intended. To avoid this, take the debit and credit cards out of your wallet when heading out of the house, and give yourself a set amount of cash. It’ll make you think twice about ordering that top shelf liquor and prevent you from buying rounds for complete strangers just because you’re in a party mood. Avoid going to bars with cover, as this is an unnecessary expense before the real expense—your alcohol—arrives.
Missing Out on Coupons
If you’re not using coupons, you’re not living. In all seriousness, coupons can do you a world of good and you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to save some cash. Set aside a bit of time to put together your shopping list for the week, then do some scouring online for applicable coupons. Use apps like RetailMeNot to find the best coupons for almost any store you can think of and save more than you ever thought you would. If you still get a paper newspaper (good for you for keeping up tradition) then you’ll find various coupons right at your front door.
Take Advantage of Carpooling
You might not realize how much your gas-guzzling car is tearing a hole in your bank account. Ask around the office and find out who might be willing to carpool with you. If that’s not applicable, consider making use of public transit, which seems to get better year by year, especially if you’re in a big metropolitan area.
Don’t think these habits are enough to change your financial outcome? Consider experimenting for a month: cut out one of these expenses and put the cash saved in a clear jar in your kitchen. This visual representation will make more of an impact and hopefully inspire you to continue on your savings endeavor.