Money Down the Drain


Life is full of unpredictable expenses, but your daily habits don’t fall into that category. You can—and you should—monitor how much you spend on trivial purchases….

Small, seemingly negligible purchases have the ability to build up rather quickly and eat into your budget before you have a chance to notice it. This is probably the reason you’re always broke at the end of the month. If you want to know where your money goes, check out whether you’re spending on these eight money-draining habits.

1. Smoking

Smoking is not only bad for your health, but it’s also terrible for your budget. Depending on the part of the world you live in, a pack of cigarettes can cost you anywhere from $3 to a whopping $13. This means that the average pack-a-day smoker will have to spend well over $200 a month and, the more you smoke, the faster your salary vanishes into thin air. In other words, if you were to quit today and save the money instead, then you might finally be able to afford a week-long vacation next summer.

2. Coffee to Go

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a nice cup of coffee while you do your shopping or when you’re enjoying a warm day at the beach. However, buying coffee every day before you get to work probably leads you to pay way too much for your favorite energy booster. Priced at around $2 per cup, coffee to go saps about $50 from your monthly budget, assuming that you buy one on each workday. To top it off, if you’re into those fancy coffee-based beverages, you can expect your monthly expenses to double.

3. Take-out Food

Ordering food in is expensive. Even if you stick to your favorite fast-food joint for the majority of your meals, you may still spend well over $200 a month. Worse yet, if you keep buying groceries in the hopes of actually using them but still can’t bring yourself to cook, your food expenses automatically double. On the other hand, homemade food costs next to nothing compared to ordering take-out and, with the help of proper meal-planning, you can cut your grocery bills in half.

4. Alcohol and Beverages

Who says you can’t go out and have a great time with your friends without spending lots of money on booze? All you have to do is think smart: you can afford to order that $10 cocktail as long as you only have one. When you’re planning to bar hop or have several drinks during the night, make sure you choose a type that your pocket can handle. You should also consider limiting your consumption of sodas too. Drinking half a liter of Coke a day can steal around $30 straight out of your pocket on a monthly basis.

5. Shopping Therapy

Going on a shopping spree every time you feel stressed or disappointed is a bad idea. When you’re in a bad mood, you are more prone to overspend. You’re also susceptible to impulse buys. As a result, you may end up spending money on useless items that you would never consider buying under normal circumstances. What’s more, shopping therapy doesn’t really help you deal with your negative emotions effectively; it merely helps you push your feelings under the rug.

6. Late Fees

Missing a payment or two is not the end of the world. In fact, it may be your only choice when you’re short on cash. However, if you’re into the habit of letting unpaid bills pile up, you need to get your act together. Late fees are a total waste of money, assuming that you can afford to pay on time. Make a point of taking care of bills as soon as they arrive, or set up reminders that will help you meet those pesky due dates.

7. Unnecessary Subscriptions

An annual gym membership is only any good if you show up at the gym regularly. Take a look at the number of subscriptions you’re currently paying, and decide which ones you really want to keep. Be sure to also check your credit card bills for recurring payments that you’ve forgotten. Then, cancel everything you don’t have a need or use for, including services that you were hoping you’d get to use someday. Don’t worry about changing your mind; in most cases, you can reinstate a cancelled subscription within a specified period of time.

8. Borrowing money

Living beyond your means is never a wise idea. If you constantly spend more than you earn, you will soon end up in debt. To prevent that, try leaving your credit cards at home, and only use them when you are sure that you can repay them on time. Moreover, you should avoid borrowing money from friends or relatives unless you’re in an emergency situation. While they may never ask you to return the loan, failing to pay them back may cause your relationship to suffer.

Life is full of unpredictable expenses, but your daily habits don’t fall into that category. You can—and you should—monitor how much you spend on trivial purchases so that you figure out what your biggest money-drainers are. When you know exactly how your cash is spent, you can look for ways to improve your financials.