5 Habits That Cost You $500 a Year -- or More!
When looking for room in your budget, it’s sometimes easier to focus on the big things: Cut the $50-a-month gym membership you rarely use. Ditch cable or satellite and save $100 a month.
Sure, reducing your big monthly bills will make an impact, but looking at the little things you do on a daily basis might add up to serious savings. Of course, the fact that you do these things regularly might make them harder to give up, but if you really need to reduce your spending, your little, everyday habits may be the place to start. Know too, that it’s not all or nothing. If you’re now going to Starbucks five days a week, cutting back to two will still save you money without denying you the experience entirely.
The average pack of cigarettes costs $6.25, according to 2015 data from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, but prices vary widely by state (often because of taxes), where you are within that state and what brand of cigarettes you’re buying. About 77% of smokers do so on a daily basis, and among that population, people smoke an average of 14.2 cigarettes a day, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At 14.2 cigarettes a day for 30 days, the average smoker goes through 21.3 packs a month (a pack has 20 cigarettes), adding up to about $133 in monthly cigarette expenses. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, and depending on the method you use, quitting can be pretty expensive itself, but in the long term you may end up saving thousands of dollars you previously would have spent on cigarettes. There are also health benefits to quitting smoking, which could add to your savings.
Potential annual savings (more or less): $1,596
According to Gallup data, 63% of Americans drink alcohol, with men having an average of nearly one drink per day and women averaging less than half a drink per day. Depending on what (and where) you’re drinking, your monthly tab for happy hour could go well into the triple digits.
Whether it’s a glass of wine when you get home or your habitual after-work beer with co-workers, cutting back on even the occasional drink may be your ticket to a trimmer budget. Beer is said to be the most popular alcoholic beverage in the U.S., and at an average of $3.75 a pint (according to pintprice.com), you would save between $56 and $112 a month, if you’re an average drinker.
Potential annual savings: $672 to $1,344
Even if you’re not consuming alcohol, you could save by swapping tap water for your beverage of choice. Spending, say, $1.50 for one bottle of soda every day costs you $45 a month.
Potential annual savings: $540
3. Your Morning Coffee
Grabbing a morning cup of coffee — plain, drip coffee — might cost you about $1 to $4, depending on how many ounces you’re consuming and where you’re buying it. The fancier your caffeine fix, the more you’re going to pay.
According to USA Today’s coffee-cost calculator, it costs $63 a month to buy a daily cup of coffee from Starbucks and $2.40 a month if you make the same amount at home.
Potential annual savings: $766.50 (or $737.30 if you swap it for home-brewed)
4. Lunch Out
Having the occasional meal out can be a nice change from eating at your desk, but eating out too much can take a huge toll on your finances. A 2013 study from Visa said Americans spent an average of $18 per week on lunches out, adding up to $936 a year. The average meal out is about $10, according to the Visa data.
If you’re the kind of person who orders in or goes out frequently, you’re probably spending thousands of dollars a year on meals, but you could significantly reduce that expense by making your own food more often.
Potential annual savings: $936
5. Paying Bills Late
An occasional late payment can happen to anybody. (And if it happens to you, you may be able to get a credit card issuer to waive it.) But if late payments are a habit, you’ll pay — and late fees are just the beginning. Once you are reported late, your credit score can suffer. And poor credit costs money. You can check this lifetime cost of debt calculator to see its impact, which varied depending on how much you borrow and where you live.
Read next: The Cheapest Way to Achieve Your Fitness Goals