As working parents we all have that one weekly or daily purchase or outing that helps us relax and get through a rough work week. Sometimes these purchases are bad habits or crutches that dig heavily into our pockets costing us thousands of dollars a year. “So what, I deserve it!”, and you do but as with anything in life these spending habits may add future financial stress if not managed properly, such as no college fund for your child, no family vacation, no retirement or no savings for an unexpected health issue, car or house repair.
How am I an expert? I am not, but I have committed most of these bad spending habits putting myself and family into financial distress. You know what I am talking about. Your car breaks down because you kept putting off fixing that squeaky noise and now you have to scrounge up a couple of thousand dollars to replace your breaks, which you do not have because you’ve spent all your money every paycheck on $5 lattes, weekly movie tickets, going out to dinner every Friday and drinks every Tuesday with your girlfriends. Yep, that was me. Crying and stressing myself out when I had the money and control over the entire situation the whole time. After reading an article on DailyFinance.com by Paula Pant, “7 Bad Habits That Can Cost You Thousands”, I realized that I was not alone. Therefore, I will share with you the bad habits and unnecessary spending I have changed over the past ten years creating financial security for myself and family, which may help you in your quest to recover from the same financial distress.
Eating out too much.
My parents loved to eat out. I remember eating out or ordering in food at least once or twice a week when I lived at home. Therefore, I love to do the same but that begins to add up, as Paula Pant, Afford Anything, explains that even eating out at fast food restaurants can add up, “$300 to $2,000-plus per year, depending on how often you hit the drive-thru.” Therefore, limit eating out to maybe once-a-month or every three months making the experience more special.
Excessive entertainment spending such as movies and shopping.
It’s nice to go shopping, to a movie, show or concert every once in a while but if you are doing this weekly or bi-weekly then it is costing you thousands a year. Movie ticket can range from $10 - $25 depending on the theatre and if you decide to view 3D experience. This can add up to $320 to $800 a year if you go per week for one person. If an entire family of four goes every week you’re spending $1200 - $3200 a year.
Same goes for excessive and impulse shopping, even if you think you are hitting sale items or specials this adds up. As Paula Pant, Afford Anything, explains that you can spend up to “$500 to $5,000-plus per year, depending on how often you make impulse purchases and what types of items you're buying.” What constitutes impulse shopping or purchases; going to the grocery store when you’re hungry, buying an item at the register or online on impulse, or opening a store credit card for that 15 percent off your first purchase, then forgetting to pay off the balance in time.
In conclusion, be smart about how often you go to the movies and try not to buy an item because it smiled at you and said, “Buy me, because you need one more container of lip balm to add to the other 10 in your purse”. It all adds up even the small $1 or $2 dollar items.
Taking care of your body.
Spending an extra $5 or so at the grocery store on healthy food or produce is okay, since your money is going to a healthier lifestyle, which in turn will benefit you and avoid future health problems. Take care of your body and you can avoid healthcare cost that can add up to thousands if not hundreds of thousands depending on the health issue. Do preventive checkups and take your doctor’s advice to lose a few pounds, get exercise and eat healthier foods. If not, in the end, all that money you had removed from your paycheck into your retirement account will be spent on physician, hospital or nursing home bills instead, which can add up to ten of thousands of dollars – plus your life.
Take care of your car.
Like your body, your car needs routine checkups and maintenance. These routine tuneups cost are minimal compared to major repairs needed from not having these done. If your car engine light comes on, get it checked out immediately, because it will not just go away and fix itself. Remember, your car is your livelihood that takes you to work where the money is.
Remove or reduce the purchase of alcohol, cigarettes and coffee.
While I’ve never been a smoker (I have my chain-smoking grandparents to thank for that) it does not take one to know that it’s an expensive bad habit. According to the American Lung Association, a pack of cigarettes cost on average $5.51, which can add up to $2,000 plus a year. If you’re a smoker this is the bad habit to quit since it will not only help save you money but your life.
Another bad habit to quit is drinking on a weekly basis, on average an alcoholic beverage cost about the same as a pack of cigarettes. Even if you go out at happy hour purchasing dollar brews at three per sitting, twice a week, along with $1 per drink as a tip, you're paying $12 per week -– which comes to $624 per year. Other high cost associated with drinking are fines for driving under the influence, which will cost you thousand of dollars or more in higher insurance premiums, attorney and court cost. Therefore, the next time you’re out with your friends during happy hour consider that free glass of water instead, because you’re really there to spend time with your friends, not the dollar brews.
Coffee can also burn a hole in your pocket, especially if you enjoy those $5 lattes like I did. That can add up to $1200 a year if bought every work day. Same with coffee purchased at the grocery store adds up. Coffee is not good for you either, if you take it out of your diet, you eliminate many health problems, such as that horrible nightly heartburn.