While working with clients struggling to get their finances in order, I began to hear similar stories over and over again.
Today I wanted to share a story, a story that may sound all too familiar, a day in the life of an overspender:
7:00 AM The alarm goes off. You promised yourself you would take full advantage of your unlimited class pass at that swanky spin studio; but your bed feels so warm and cozy, you’ll just skip it this morning…. and again the next morning… and again the next morning. Before you know it your only going once a week, which is averaging out to be about $45 a class!
What to do: You have 2 options here:
1. Start waking up or making the time after work to start using this class pass. Enlist an accountability buddy if you need. You bought that pass in the first place because you clearly had a goal in mind (whether it was to feel better, lose weight, etc.), so start working to achieve that goal and stop throwing money down the drain!
2. Sometimes life really does get hectic, in which case you need to be honest and realistic with yourself. Do you have the time to use this membership? Do their classes work with times in your schedule? If the answer is no, it is time to cancel the membership. Look into either joining a cheaper gym altogether or seeing if you can buy a class package (i.e. 10 classes for $120) with no time limit for usage on it. This way you have the freedom to go when it fits with your schedule. I personally try to pay $10 per class. So what that means, is if I do buy an unlimited membership, my goal is to go as many times that month, that it whittles the cost of each class down to $10. This is beneficial to me in two big ways: 1. I am feeling like I am getting my money’s worth and feeling good, 2. I am getting those endorphins going usually a 3-4 times a week, which again, leaves me feeling good.
8:30 AM You stop by the coffee shop on your way into work to kick start your morning. If you are like the average American, you are probably spending about $20 a week on coffee, for a yearly average of almost $1,100!
What to do: Make coffee at home! Putting forth a small investment in a killer coffee maker will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. I personally drink iced coffee, so I got this great cold brew coffee maker:
for about $20 on Amazon* (note, the above are affiliate links, but I used this everyday and am obssessed!) Since the coffee never heats up, it does not have that icky bitter burnt taste. I spend (on the higher end) 8.99 on a pound of coffee, which usually lasts about 3 weeks at a rate of 4 cups a day; that’s about 11 cents a cup!!
12:00 PM Lunch Time! You call your favorite lunch spot for a carry out salad. Then you head over to pick it up and decide you want to grab a water bottle why you are there. There goes another $12 bucks, oh wait, you throw in a $2 tip for good measure… make that $14.00.
What to do: Brown Bag! I know, I know, how uncool does that sound? BUT you have to ask yourself, would you rather spend thousands each year on running out for a quick bite OR going on a great vacation? Saving for your future retirement or home? Getting out of debt? Lunch money can probably be spent better else where. Plus, why are you buying bottled water during the workday? Most offices these days have a filtered water system in the office; so USE it! This move alone can save you hundreds of dollars. Need more motivation to brown bag your lunch? Check out this amazing article by TIME on How to Save $2,500 a Year on Lunch.
2:00 PM Flash Sale! You know the feeling, it’s late in the work day, you are getting tired and restless… you check you inbox and yelp! There’s a flash sale at your favorite store! Only 2 hours remaining?? Hmm, let’s buy some stuff! Now you feel alert and ready to close the day on a high note!
What to do: Do NOT open that email. Consider using unroll.me, which will bundle your subscription, e-mails and send them as one mass e-mail daily (way less tempting and it’ll help get your inbox under control!). You are probably checking your personal email at work because you are in need of a few minute break/refresher to clear your head… not go shopping. Go for a brisk walk around the building to get some fresh area and your blood flowing again. This will have the same revitalizing effect as a new pair of shoes (that you really didn’t need anyway), without hurting your budget. Plus, ask yourself, do you really want to be that person that falls for the gimmicky “flash sale”? Let’s be realistic, if it happens every week, it’s not really a “flash sale”…. Just sayin’.
6:00 PM One of two things usually happens here:
1. Your friend texts you to grab a bite to eat or
2. You are exhausted from your day and you decide to just order take out for dinner. Regardless, the damage is usually the same: you wallet is another $20-$40 lighter.
What to do: Meal prep and Meal plan. Spending money on food is one of the fastest ways to sink you budget or increase your flex spending; it all depends on what you decide to do. When you take the time to sit down and plan your meals for the week, create a grocery list, then stick to that grocery list while shopping, it will save you money. End of story. Don’t let all those groceries go to waste either! Create a meal plan to make sure you’ll use all those veggies throughout the week and then take the time on Sunday to cook some dishes for the week ahead, and then all you need to do is reheat them when you tired during the week. No excuses for take out.
10:00 PM It’s late, and you are mindlessly scrolling through television channels or Instagram feeds. When you find yourself struck by a new workout program or gadget being advertised. One thing leads to another, and before you know it you just spent $160 you really don’t have to spend.
What to do instead: Stop the late night scrolling. My dad was a big culprit of this one. He would watch QVC and workout infomercials till odd hours of the night. We would randomly get a shipment of the latest fad diet or a kitchen appliance in the mail far too often (my dad struggled with over spending in case you were wondering). Instead try reading at night, meditating, journaling, try doing anything to unburden the mind before bed. You will sleep more peacefully and your bank account will thank you later.