In a world filled with endless selection and uber convenience, consumer temptations seemingly lurk around every corner. When all we have to do is swipe or enter credit card information to get what we want, the best of us will naturally overspend a little.
But there’s quite a distinction between treating ourselves once in a while and throwing money away. How many of these everyday money sucks are you falling victim of?
There should be no shame in spending money on our health. But that fancy gym membership you use once a month is about as cost-effective as your parents’ unused treadmill in the basement back in the day. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to hit the gym, exercise in nature. The beautiful scenery will have you forgetting that you’re working out.
It’s no secret that cable television has been fighting a slow death for some time. The average monthly spending per cable subscriber is about $85. Satellite TV subscribers pay upwards of $100 per month. On top of those costs are messy contracts and potentially extra service fees. Between streaming channels like Netflix and Hulu and boxes like Apple TV or Fire TV, there’s no shortage of more affordable and flexible options when it comes to visual content.
Cigarettes & Alcohol
We all have our vices, but they don’t all carry the same price tag. Habits like smoking and drinking aren’t as noticeable in our week-to-week spending, but when factored throughout the year, they add up to considerable amounts. If you’re smoking a pack a day at average prices, you’re losing nearly $200 a month, or $2,300 a year. A decade of doing this costs more than a new car ($22,920). And that’s just the average smoking price. If you’re in a big city, you’re probably paying even more. Add in a happy hour per week and at least another hundred could be leaving your pocket monthly.
Specialty Coffee Drinks
Americans pay an average of $2.70 for a cup of coffee, but that’s nothing compared to those who order specialty drinks like lattes, or any number of custom concoctions. These drinks, in addition to costing more, also set us back in the health department as they’re loaded with sugar, fat, and empty calories. If you have a latte issue, it’s OK to get your fix, but aim for moderation, as well as smaller sizes, when you do so.
Monthly Credit Card Interest
Per NerdWallet’s 2018 household credit card debt study, the average U.S. household had nearly $7,000 in revolving balances. At an average 15 percent interest rate, these households are losing thousands each year beyond their principal. Look into a zero or low-interest balance transfer card to help consolidate your debts and follow the debt snowflake approach to minimize your monthly payment burden.
Cut the Fat with Smart Budget Apps
While our society makes it easy to lose sight of how we spend our money, technology also enables us to regain control. The basic concept of a budget hasn’t changed, but instead of meticulously scribbling down every transaction in a notebook and punching numbers on a calculator, automation via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) do the heavy lifting. For example, expense tracker apps like Clarity Money use AI and ML to identify unwanted spending and help people gain a better understanding as to where their money goes.
Whether these areas the source of your money leak or other areas demand your attention, improving financial hygiene doesn’t happen overnight. Zoom in on your problem areas and set realistic goals you can achieve through discipline and commitment.