Ah yes bad money habits - buying expensive coffee every day, eating lunch out or eating junk food every day, buying clothes all the time that you never wear etc. We've all had one bad money habit or the other and perhaps even currently have them but what is the true cost of these bad habits when it comes our finances?
Finding out can be all the motivation you need to break a bad money habit so let's walk through a few examples below!
But first l'll define what a bad money habit is:
What is a bad money habit?
A bad money habit is basically when you find yourself consistently spending money on -
- Something you know you shouldn't be spending money so often
- Something that you can find cheaper elsewhere or
- Something that you can do or make for free
Now that I've clarified what a bad money habit is, let's run through some numbers on some popular habits that can easily become bad habits to see how much you could actually be saving if you cut back or completely eliminate some of these!
The cost of eating out every day of the week
Do you find yourself buying lunch at work every single day? We'll let's say the average cost of lunch for you is $10 a day. Multiply that by 5 days a week for one year and we're talking $2,600 in lunches (some of which might be crappy).
An alternative? Cut back on buying lunch by a third of by half and put the money you don't spend towards savings and debt. You'll be surprised how much you save when you cut back plus you can free up some extra money for your grocery budget and buy some of the nicer things you've always wanted to try out.
Combine that with meal planning and not only will you save a ton of money, you'll also be aware of everything you are eating from a health perspective because you picked it out and made it yourself!
The "real" cost of that inexpensive daily coffee buying habit
Are you one of these people who needs that quick morning caffeine fix? Find yourself stopping at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts one too many times a week? or even multiple times a day? Well, depending on where you buy your coffee or caffeine beverage, you can very well be spending an average of $4 a day for a single cup and over one year that's $1460.
Alternative: Consider investing in your own fancy at home coffee maker. It might seem like a big investment as good ones can range anywhere from $100 to $400, but if you are big coffee drinker you'll actually be saving a ton of money by making your own coffee at home and over time your home made coffee will come out to pennies compared to an average of $4 a day.
You can also try out the free coffee many workplaces offer. Yes, it might taste crappy at first because your taste buds have been conditioned to fanciness but over time you might just get used to the "ok" coffee at work!
Taking money from an "out of network" ATM
Ever taken money out of an out of network ATM and thought to yourself - "it's only a $3 fee, it's not that much"? Well if you do this once a week or 4 to 5 times a month at an average of $3 per out of network withdrawal, then we're talking ~ $180 in ATM fees a year.
Wouldn't you rather put that $180 dollars to better use like towards savings for vacation, towards your emergency fund, to treat yourself to something nice etc?
Alternative: Open a checking account with a bank that has no ATM transaction fees regardless of what ATM you use or one that reimburses out of network ATM fees.
You can also make sure to pull out enough cash from your in network ATM based on how much you think you'll be spending each week and you can determine that by creating a budget!
The cost of paying late fees
If you've ever paid a late fee you know it sucks to pay one. Late fees are usually excessively high and if unexpected, can cause other issues like bank fees due to insufficient fees etc. In many instances, late fees average around $25 and if you are paying a late fee even just once a month, it can add up. $25 dollars once a month multiplied by 12 months is a whopping $300! Yuk!
Alternative: Set reminders on your calendar around your bills and their due dates. Next, you want to become BFFs with your budget and this includes being aware of all your upcoming bills and expenses and also cutting back on bills that you have for things you don't use or don't need.
You can also call up your service providers or creditors and ask them to move your bill due dates to be closer to the dates when you get paid, that way you can plan to pay your bills as soon as you get paid.
The cost of shopping for clothes you don't wear
If you were to take a look in your closet right now, how many clothes do you have with the tags still attached or that you planned to wear but never got round to or perhaps wore just one time?
It is common for people to spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes, and accessories but if you think you are only spending a couple hundred dollars a month it's a good idea to take a step back and do an assessment on the "real amount" you are spending on your wardrobe.
Spending $200 a month on clothes (shoes and accessories) equals $2,400 a year and that can be a big deal if some of that money is put towards your financial goals.
Alternative: Before your next shopping, take some time out to clean out your closet to get rid of what you don't wear or don't need. Consider selling these items to make some extra money and then donate or give away what you can't sell.
Next, make a list of all the gaps in your closet - basically the things you need but don't have and also the things you wear often but have worn out or gotten too old, and use that list as a guideline the next time you go shopping so you are buying things you know you will use (think cost per wear).
Finally, build your shopping into your budget! Yes, it's ok to shop and buy nice things but you want to make sure you can afford what you are buying and it's not at the expense of your financial goals or obligations.
Got bad money habits? What changes have you made or do you plan to make to save some of your hard earned money?