Every place I go for money management advice starts with the same boring and tedious advice, to start with a budget. Well, I say that is really not useful when I don’t even know how to do one, so I found a better way to save money without having to spend my Saturday morning (and afternoon) staring at a blank spreadsheet because I just have no idea where to start! #sendhelp
Now, it is true that knowing your numbers is really important, and it gives you a lot more clarity on how you are tracking and where you want to go and all that but money management is really about making conscious decisions and choosing with your head more than with your heart or stomach (or genitalia, in some cases).
Having control over your money should not be difficult, but it certainly feels like a task. We know that with the rise of awesome neo-banks and expense-tracking apps, our financial lives are becoming a bit easier to handle but it requires a lot more energy and organising that I had budgeted for (get it?…) so I recorded some simple daily life examples where you could be saving yourself some bucks.
Paying for delivery when you could go and pick it up yourself.
It’s cool if you want to be lazy once in a while, or if you are too hungover to get up. But if you are doing this once or twice a week, this little fee adds up and unfortunately, it is the small things like this that sieve the money out of our bank accounts.
This is a good $260 a year
Buying last-minute presents
If you are anything like my bf, you love to enjoy the now and worry about everything else later. Well, let’s say you have a budget of $50 for your mother’s day present, but you have been busy – like everyone – you have left it until two days before, or the day before or maybe even on the day to buy a present. Very likely, you don’t have anything in mind AND you are desperate, so you end up buying a very nice (but overpriced) candle at the department store. You also need to get her a card, so that’s an extra $6. Congrats, you’ve spent $36 more on a present that you had $50 in mind for, but it’s ok because it’s only $36. Now, do you have any more family members? What about a significant other or friends?
This little detail might end up costing you (let’s say you have 3 people you give presents to) $108 a year
Meal planning with new ingredients every week
I used to “plan my meals” every Monday thinking I was super organised and being super frugal but didn’t understand why my grocery bill could not come down. Well, I was planning my meals without checking my pantry first, and on top of that I was looking up very elaborate recipes that required obscure ingredients which I only ended up using a 1oth of.
This is an expensive mistake, in my experience, it cost me around $50 per week in groceries. That is $2,600 a year.
Buying take away when you have food at home
This is a classic example and we all have been victims of it. You are out, you get hungry and you buy sushi and think to yourself “I will eat that roast veg salad I have at home, tonight” but the fact is you don’t. And the food you had at home will very likely go to waste because you couldn’t wait until you got home to eat. The poor salad felt rejected.
If you do this, let’s say, once every week? That is $780 a year
Not returning things out of laziness
Do you have a corner in your closet of things that you were supposed to return and life just “got in the way”? Well, the unreturned limbo in your closet is quite the physical representation of your money just sitting there idle. Let’s face it, if you didn’t return it when you realised you weren’t going to use it, you never will. An unreturned purchase can end up wasting your hard-earned dollars.
I have calculated that over a couple of months I’ve kept one top that was too big for me, some shoes that were just a bit too tight and some light bulbs that weren’t the right size which in a year that could cost you $480 a year.
Buying coffee or snacks out of boredom
We have to emphasise here the “out of boredom” part. I tried having home-made coffee so many times to save money and it sucked! I LOVE having my morning coffee at a cafe, I love talking to my barista every morning, it’s part of my routine and it makes me feel human so, no, we are not saying to cut back on coffees. What I am referring to here is the afternoon hits and you are feeling unmotivated at your desk and decide to get out of your office and go for a coffee or a snack. It’s great to have it as a treat once in a while, but if you are doing it out of boredom you might be wasting your money.
If you get bored and go for a coffee or snack as an excuse to step away from your desk then you could be wasting $416 a year.
Not knowing how much things cost
Millennials are infamous for overpaying for silly things like Uber black or activated nuts. A good trick that millennials are fond of is shopping around and allocating a ‘budget’ to something they want to purchase. This trick gives us the superpower of knowing how much things should cost. As a city-dweller, I know that most supermarkets have higher prices than the outer burbs, maybe because it’s so hard to bring the groceries and toilet paper to this inaccessible area (sarcasm intended), but the thing is if you don’t know how much you pay on average for a supermarket item, let’s say a bag of rice, you won’t know any better. We are not suggesting you memorise the price of every item you purchase but if you are not careful sometimes you can overpay for a simple roll of toilet paper.
This could cost you approximately $40 per grocery shopping, which averages an approx $2,080 a year.
Not buying non-perishable items when on sale
This could sound contra-intuitive with all the above advice but when things like toothpaste, toilet paper, your shampoo etc are on sale you might benefit from that discounted price (assuming you already know how much you normally pay for these things). The upside of buying non-perishables when on sale is that you won’t have to panic-buy toilet paper when a pandemic hits. A well-stocked bathroom is a happy bathroom
Assuming you save on average $2 dollars per item this could save you $120 a year
Now, it is worth pointing out that thinking about every single purchase decision we make every day can get a bit much. There is research that proves that we only have so much decision-making in us and once it is exhausted we tend to give in and eventually we start looking for shortcuts.
Thinking about every single decision I make in my day-to-day life is exhausting. Ideally, you want to set up your environment to avoid having to think too hard to make the right decisions for you. The examples we just listed in this article are just a reminder to pay attention to next time you are about to mindlessly throw some cash out the window.