Sometimes it seems like we’re being pretty responsible with our money (not buying fancy cars or TVs), yet the budget doesn’t always balance. Usually when that happens, it’s the little things that are making a difference (death by a thousand cuts). Here’s a few tips to avoid the common minor expenses that add up over time.
Bottled Water – There’s pretty much no case where individual bottles of water are necessary. Do you need to bring some water with you? Get a reusable water bottle, not only are they better for the environment, they are cheaper too! If you need bottled water because your water supply is not drinkable, it’s still better to buy large 5 gallon water tanks then to get individual bottles.
Snacks From the Vending Machine – It’s 3pm, and your stomach starts growling. That $.75 for a Snickers bar won’t make a dent in your budget right? It still adds up to almost $200 a year if you make it a daily habit. While the best advice is probably avoid snacking altogether, I’d recommend buying whatever your favorite treat is in bulk, and keeping that at your desk. If you don’t have the willpower to avoid eating them all, you can pack one per day in your lunch.
Buying Coffee – Buying a morning coffee at Starbucks or your favorite coffee shop is more of a tradition than anything. Breaking that tradition can be difficult. But the savings are unquestionable. Making coffee at home and bringing it with you can be just as fun. Don’t have time in the morning? Get a coffee machine with a timer.
Taking a Cab – If you live in a big city where taking a cab is a quick and easy option to taking public transit (ie New York), it can become a habit itself. The savings here are huge to switch to public transit, or even better riding your bike. Most major cities have dedicated bike lanes these days, and it’s a great way to get a workout while also saving money (letting you cancel that gym membership).
With all of these things, I want to make clear that you need to look at your overall financial situation. Sometimes people sweat the small stuff while having huge holes elsewhere. It’s OK to treat yourself occasionally to any of these conveniences, but controlling your spending works best if it’s a part of your entire life.