In our consumer culture, spending money on things you don’t need is easy. When you form a habit of purchasing non-essentials, it can take a massive toll on your finances. From playing the lottery to getting your nails done, these habits can quickly empty your wallet if you’re not careful.
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1. Buying Your Coffee Every Day
While many coffee lovers claim that no one can make a better latte than their local Starbucks, it may be time to stop hitting the cafe daily for your caffeine fix. A simple grande vanilla iced coffee at Starbucks costs $3.95 and is one of the cheaper options on the menu.
If you order one of those daily for a month, you’re shelling out almost $120. I make my vanilla iced coffees at home and spend around $25 monthly. Plus, it tastes better than Starbucks.
2. Picking Up Takeout When There’s Food at Home
Do you feel tired after a long day of work with no energy left over to make dinner? I understand the feeling. But if you already bought groceries to prepare your meal and opt to order out instead, you’re wasting both food and money. The solution? Either take a deep breath and prepare your food instead of getting takeout, or know yourself and anticipate that you’ll want to get takeout while you plan your grocery trip.
3. Drinking Alcohol
Going out to a bar with friends after a long week can feel rewarding and relaxing. But when you order drinks, you may not realize how quickly the costs add up. Nowadays, a simple gin and tonic, and other rail drinks, can cost around $10, while specialty cocktails range from $10 to $16 or more.
If you go out every Saturday night and have three gin and tonics, you’re paying $120 per month. Consider going out with friends and holding off on ordering drinks. You may be surprised to find you still have a great time.
4. Eating Lunch Out at Work
When you wake up early to make it to work on time, the last thing you want to do is spend extra time putting together a lunch to bring with you. But preparing your meals at home rather than ordering or going out to eat can save you big in the long run. Even fast food restaurants like McDonald’s can cost around $15 or more for a meal.
While gambling may seem fun and like you’re destined to get a considerable payout one day, that’s not how it works. When you enter a casino, the odds are set against you. When you play slot machines, your chances of taking home a hefty prize range from one in 5,000 to one in 34 million. Either way, you’ll likely spend way more money than you could ever win when you gamble.
6. Signing Up for Subscriptions You Don’t Use
There are subscription plans for everything, from streaming services to monthly dog toy boxes. If you’re not careful, you could sign up for a subscription you think might be fun but never actually use, like a weekly bird-watching newsletter.
Think critically before signing up for any subscriptions, and ask yourself if it’s worth the cost. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of all your subscriptions so you can examine it occasionally and unsubscribe to things you no longer use.
7. Playing the Lottery
Like gambling at the casino, playing the lottery rarely turns out in your favor. The popular U.S. lottery Mega Millions only gives you a one in 176 million chance of winning the jackpot. Yikes! Save the money you spend on scratch tickets for something more worthwhile.
8. Drinking Bottled Water When You Have Access to Clean Tap Water
Millions of Americans have access to fresh, clean tap water that is safe to drink. So why on Earth do so many of us purchase bottled water instead? The cost of using tap water is much lower than bottled water. Tap water costs around $0.02 per gallon, while bottled water costs $0.64 per gallon. If you want to ensure your tap water is clean, invest in a water filter for peace of mind and stop wasting your money on plastic bottles.
9. Getting Your Nails Done at the Salon
While I love going to get a pedicure at the nail salon occasionally, I refuse to make it a habit. I can buy a bottle of nail polish for $5 on sale, and it will last me for years, while one trip to the nail salon costs around $30 to $45. If you get your nails done every week, consider shifting your routine and doing them at home.
10. Gym Memberships
Gym memberships are wildly expensive and are only truly worth it if you go multiple times per week and use most of the available machines. And do you go to the gym all that often? I know I don’t. You can do most workout routines at home for free or for small investments rather than going to the gym and paying $30+ per month.
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