Here are four small lifestyle changes that can help you reach your financial end zone.
Some days, my spending habits get the better of me. If I forget to pack a lunch, I don’t even think twice about opening up my Uber app and ordering a meal off of UberEats. Or when I need a coffee, I head to the nearest Starbucks for a grande cup. At the time of purchase, $5 to $10 doesn’t seem like a lot but by the end of the week, my wallet can feel the damage I’ve done.
Every dollar counts: If you estimate you’re spending $3 for a cup of coffee five days a week for an entire year, that’s over a thousand dollars per year spent on just coffee. In other words, that’s roughly a thousand dollars that could be earning interest in a savings or retirement account.
Meeting your savings goals is just like scoring a touchdown in football. It’s a game of inches, to quote Al Pacino. Every step forward gets a football player closer to the end zone; every dollar you save gets you closer to saving thousands of dollars in the long run. Here are four small lifestyle changes that can help you reach your financial end zone.
1. Create a No-Spending Day
This may be tough for people who just have to have their daily Starbucks coffee on their way to work, but try setting aside a specific day where you vow to not spend a single dollar. By eliminating unnecessary costs like coffee runs or restaurant meals, you force yourself to be more conscientious of your spending habits. There are some costs, though, that you’ll have to exclude from your no-spending day. Things like mortgage payments or Netflix subscriptions are ongoing, so don’t include those as costs when you set aside your one day of the week. Also, try keeping track of how many times you’re tempted to go out and use your credit card; you’d be surprised how often you reach for your wallet in a day. ??
If you work hard during the week, maybe you’re someone who likes to party hard on the weekend. Perhaps you like to hit up your favorite neighborhood bar or maybe you prefer something with a little more flair, like going clubbing with your friends.
But going out on the weekends can come at a huge price. When the liquor starts flowing, we’re tempted to keep swiping our cards and many of us don’t realize how much we actually spend in one night of partying until the next morning. When we’re armed with our credit cards, we tend to blindly spend more, and research shows that psychologically, we don’t see cards as actual money.
To save some of your paycheck (and yourself from a hangover the next day), hit up your bank’s ATM before going out. This is what many financial planners call a “cash diet” — you buy things only with the cash you’ve allowed for yourself. By ditching the plastic at home, you limit yourself to the amount on your person, and when you run out of cash, you have to wait until the next time you make a withdrawal.
3. Stop Buying Things with Diminishing Returns
Do you own a car? Do you live in a big city and own a car? Now think back to how many times you’ve used your car to drive to and from work. If you can’t remember the last time you used it, it may be time to ditch your vehicle. If you live in a city with an efficient public transportation system, a car represents an item with diminishing returns. Really consider how often you’ll use a car before buying one because once you purchase it, you’ll need to pay for gas, maintenance costs, insurance fees and more just to keep your vehicle functioning.
Similarly, if you still pay monthly for your TV and Internet package, reconsider cutting the cable lines. Cable packages are getting more expensive each year and with streaming services readily available, many TV enthusiasts can turn to the Internet to satisfy their television needs.
4. Make Every Purchase Count Twice
Face it: At some point, you’re going to need to buy groceries and the occasional clothing item. If you need to make a purchase, buying through a site that rewards purchases can help you stretch your dollar as much as possible. A site like iConsumer will give consumers cash back on every purchase at thousands of retailers while offering members a stake in the company. So not only will you be able to receive some money back, you’ll also receive a share of company stock that you can then sell once an enterprise like iConsumer goes public.
A great way to save thousands over the long run is to start investing your hard-earned money, whether it be through cash investments or through owning shares of a company that can be sold at a later date.