10 Ways We Spend Without Awareness

“It’s only $2.12. What’s the big deal?” Steve asked, blinking in disbelief that someone would suggest that if he wanted to change his financial picture, he should drop his morning stop at the coffee shop. Karen looked at him steadily and said, “But it really isn’t $2.12.”

Steve stared blankly.

Karen persisted, “How many days do you stop there? “

“Every day,” Steve hung his head.

“So,” Karen continued, “you stop there 5 days a week? What about on the weekends?”

Steve nodded. “Every day.”

Karen took out her calculator. “That $2.12 is really $14.84 per week. In one month that’s almost $60 per month or $720 per year.

Steve just shook his head.

I was Steve – only, I stopped every morning and most afternoons for coffee. I would joke that my car ran more on coffee than on gas.

This is what I was referring to last week about becoming mindful about money. How much money are you spending without thinking about it?

Do you…

  1. Pay for a cup of coffee each morning on the way to work, during the day or on your way home? You can save most of that simply by bringing your coffee with you in a travel mug. The same can be said for bottled water.
  2. Buy single serving sized snack packets when the larger multiple serving package is cheaper? It only takes a minute or two to set up your own single servings in a zip lock baggie.
  3. Throw a lot of food away, left-overs, fruit, etc only to replace it the next time you go shopping? Why? Consider packaging your leftovers as single serve meals to be frozen, work/school lunches, baking overripe fruit into breads or making sauces that can be frozen. Blanch and freeze aging vegetables or make a soup that can be frozen…then consider whether these foods are really needed during the next shopping trip.
  4. Spread your laundry out over the course of the week? Most of the energy in laundry is spent on warming the dryer up. If you do consecutive loads of laundry, you capitalize on the heat already generated in the dryer, reduce drying time for subsequent loads and reduce energy consumption.
  5. Find yourself stopping by the ATM for a quick $20? Write down on a sheet of paper the number of times you’ve done this for a month. Are you surprised at what you see? Give yourself a reasonable allowance. Pay it to yourself either for the week or for the month. When the money’s gone, it’s gone. What happened at the end of the month?
  6. Leave your car running while you stop for your morning coffee and other places? Aside from being an invitation to a car thief, the running car consumes fuel unnecessarily. Turn the car off when you’re not driving. Watch your gas bill go down!
  7. Keep a subscription that you never read? Get rid of the clutter and lose the subscription if you’re not using it. With many subscriptions running $80-100 a year, that’s $7-$10 per month back in your pocket.
  8. Balance your checkbook? It may only happen every-in-a-while, but an overdraft on your checking account can cost you. There’s the bounce fee you have to pay the person to whom you gave the check, or perhaps an overdraft fee at the bank. Not only will you save yourself money; you’ll also save yourself embarrassment.
  9. Lose track of bills or pay some a little late? If you are then you’re racking up late fees and interest charges that can add up over time. By budgeting, you’ll know exactly what’s due when, will have them paid on time and will reduce your costs!
  10. Use a lot of paper plates, plastic utensils, or paper/Styrofoam cups? Yes, these things are inexpensive when you use them sparingly, or when there’s a big picnic. But using them for nearly every meal can add up. For quick meals and informal dining, use your everyday dishes anyway. Not only does it save money, but it also sends the message that meal time is not a throw-away.

I’d love to grow my list of how to be mindful of money. Help me to help others. As you read this, what caught your attention? You are the expert on You!


Please leave a comment below as to what you think of and why it’s important to address!

1 thought on “10 Ways We Spend Without Awareness

  1. Larry, another excellent article. (I might be slightly biased as we are in the same circles of financial coaches) For me, the decision to commit to a deliberate plan for my money meant that I had to first start tracking better. I was guilty of missing payments due to lack of organization. I was also guilty of the ATM bandit. I did not create a plan and allow myself permission to spend deliberately, I was letting my money control my emotions and the decisions I was making. Thanks for sharing!


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