You’re not splurging on luxury cars or flashy diamonds. But if you’re like most Americans, you may be losing a small fortune each year (nearly $3,500!) on relatively minor indulgences.
Instead of letting your money run wild, decide how to start saving money by revising your budget in these four everyday areas:
1. Daily Lunches Out
You had great intentions this year. You were finally going to start bringing your own lunch to work. But then someone invited you to that awesome hot chicken place down the street. And after that, you got a serious craving for some Tex-Mex. Fast-forward a few weeks, and you’re picking up lunch more than packing it. So what’s the big deal?
On average, Americans spend $20 per week eating out at lunchtime.(1) That’s $1,040 per year! Even if you just swing by a drive-thru, at $7-8 a pop, that’s a lot of lunch money. To curb your spending, budget a few special noontime meals per month. And when you do finally get that break from leftover casseroles and reheated quiches, you’ll appreciate this little luxury even more.
2. Premium Cable Packages
Be honest: How many of the hundreds of cable channels do you regularly watch? Ten? Maybe fifteen? Why shell out for a ton of unused channels when, for a fraction of the cost, you can fulfill all your binge-watching needs with online streaming? Even with today’s cheaper alternatives, millions of us are still paying around $66 per month for expanded basic cable.(2)
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That’s a lot of money to blow on your favorite sports and movie channels. If the big game is really that important to you, just downgrade to basic cable and a sports-only package. Or go to a friend’s house with a big bag of chips and a Crock-Pot full of melty cheese-and-chili dip. Because no self-respecting basketball fan can turn down queso.
3. Unused Gym Memberships
After a stressful day of 4-year-old tantrums or never-ending meetings, hitting the gym can give your body and mind a much-needed break. But that means you have to change clothes, get in your car, drive to the gym, and then try to outrun some stick-thin teenager on the treadmill next to you. Or you could just eat a pint of ice cream. Decisions, decisions.
Statistic Brain estimates we waste about $39 each month underutilizing our health clubs.(3) So if cooking dinner, giving the kids a bath, and reading five bedtime stories is your reality, it could make more sense to run around the block rather than hit the gym. Do whatever works best for you. Just don’t blow $468 a year on best-laid plans.
4. Regular Coffee Trips
Coffee is a necessity for many of us. It’s like air—deliciously caffeinated air. But that’s no reason to blow an average of $3.28 per day on a cup of coffee.(4) That amounts to about $23 per week. We know the talented barista down at Jittery Java handcrafts your beverage with love each morning, but let’s get real. If you buy some decent beans and add your own syrups and creams, your home brew will taste just as sweet. Plus, with savings of nearly $1,200 per year, you can now afford some darn good beans.
Hear us, America. Everything is good in moderation—even coffee and TV. But moderation often trips us up. That’s where the budget comes in. It’s okay to plan for occasional splurges, but make sure you’re not allowing small luxuries to run away with your future goals. Control your spending now, so you can live and give like a rock star later on.
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