There are times in life where you get hit with emergency expenses – it’s unavoidable. Just yesterday, my dog got into a little accident and broke his nail right out of the root, and it cost me $200 for the extraction, sedation, bandage and pain medications. For fur-mamas and human-mamas alike, we all know we’d do just about anything for our little ones, no matter what the cost.
When I first got hit with the vet bill, I grew upset – why did it cost $200 to fix a broken nail? I wasn’t going to let it heal on its own because the nail was hanging off with the nerve exposed, so it was something that needed to be done. I just didn’t understand why I was so frustrated with the cost.
Granted, $200 really isn’t a lot… but it could become a lot if you don’t have $200 to spare. That bill got me thinking: if we didn’t spend money on compulsive shopping, we would all probably have a few hundred or thousand dollars stashed away for rainy days like these.
We’re all visual learners, right? Well, let me do the math for you and show you in numbers how much money we could all be throwing away on unnecessary things. For those of you who are really struggling, these things not only add up, but they also take you further away from your financial goals. If money is a problem, it’s really important to stop and review your spending habits. Let’s see if you’ve got any of the scenarios below.
#1: You don’t need to get your nails done.
There was a time when I worked a desk job and sat next to one lady who complained about the same two things: How she was always in need of getting her nails done, and how broke she always was.
These were weekly complaints.
You ladies know how much getting your nails done can be… for a regular mani + pedi, we’re looking at $25 and up. If we’re talking about gel, that price could easily go up to $40 and higher – and you haven’t even factored in a tip yet.
If you had your nails done even just once a month, you’d be throwing away at least $50.
Financial damage: $50 x 12 months = $600/year
Mad props to the ladies like me who screw up their nails as soon as they get home and start loading up the dishwasher. Easy solution: learn how to do your own nails. A bottle is just about $5, and man (or woman) power is free.
#2: You don’t need an Ipsy subscription
I knew another previous coworker who would create an Excel spreadsheet of her monthly expenses to calculate how much money she had left for groceries, gas, and … her monthly Ipsy subscription.
You’re counting your budget down to the pennies, and you’re still trying to scrape up cash for a make-up subscription?
Is it just me, or do I see that most of these women tend to be make-up junkies who probably live under an infinite mountain of make-up? You literally only have one face, how could you even use all that make-up before it goes bad?
Of course it feels like Christmas to get new products each month, but out of all the products you get, think about this: how many would you consider re-purchasing? While I think it’s a great idea for those who can afford it, I’m not sure if this is a priority for others who need that money for things like gas.
Financial damage: $10/month x 12 months = $120/year
Okay, so there’s a yearly subscription option that’s $110/year if you pay it all upfront, and it saves you a whopping $10 a year (!) for more makeup you don’t need and may not even use!
#3: You don’t need “that one thing” you saw at the mall
Those heels on clearance.That super cute blouse you could use for work but will probably wind up losing. The buy 2 for $10 sunglasses deal. These things add up. $20 here, $20 there – even if you indulged in only $20 a month, how much money is that at the end of the year?
Financial damage: $20/month x 12 months = $240/year
Do you even remember what you spent that money on?
#4: You don’t need that gym membership you aren’t using.
It’s really important to be fit and healthy, but let’s be real for a moment – how many times did you actually go to the gym after you signed up?
Come every new year, we’ve all got the resolution to shed pounds and begin a healthy lifestyle, once and for all. We head to the nearest gym, take a tour of the facilities, and then pay the excessive start-up fees including the first and last month’s dues.
Once, I walked out of LA Fitness nearly $200 more broke after I signed up. I went there literally less than 10 times in 2 months and after that, never came back. Even worse, I continued to pay for that monthly membership for over a year before I cancelled it. I’d already wasted over 12 months worth of my membership, and I was actually paying $50 per month because of upgrades I never even used.
Years later, I tried to re-activate that membership again, but did the same thing. I repeated this vicious cycle with other gyms like Crunch Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness too. Then, ironically, I finally lost 15 pounds just by watching my food intake and using the super-expensive NordicTrack treadmill that was collecting dust at home.
If you’ve got a gym membership you aren’t using, cancel it and try those local hiking trails or community gyms you may have access to. Take your dog for a run. Use the fitness equipment you bought and make good use of what you already have.
Financial damage: $50/month x 12 months = $600/year (not including start-up fees)
I literally spent $600 to stay the same exact weight for a whole year. Cool.
#5: You don’t need soda, you can drink water.
It’s really hard to avoid the social culture as an American. All of our activities revolve around the dining table. Each time you go out to eat, more than likely you’re not just paying for your meal – you’re paying for appetizers, your date’s meal, and refills on drinks. It may just seem like a $30 check, but after tax and tip? You’d wonder why you spent $3 on a glass of Sprite when you could have spent even less for a liter at the grocery store.
$3/drink x Party of 2: $6/meal
$6/Weekly Date: $24/month
$24/month x 12 Months: $288/year
That’s some expensive Sprite. Is that designer?
#6: Forget that alcoholic beverage too.
I’m starting to sound like a frugal anti-social psychopath, but hear me out: how often do you go drinking with friends? I know so many people my age in their mid-to-late twenties that go bar-hopping nearly every weekend. If you’re going out with the clear intention of getting drunk, assume you’ll be buying at least 2 drinks.
At a minimum of $5 per drink, how much money do you think you’re spending on hangovers and a beer belly? Don’t forget about those rounds of shots you buy for your friends. Oh, and let’s talk about the food you buy for that one friend who happens to drink way too much and needs something to eat before they throw up everywhere.
$5/drink x 3 drinks, 1 round of $5 shots for 4 people, $20 tip: $55/night
$55/week for 4 weeks: $220/month
$220/month for 12 months: $2,640
I hope you at least got bottle service or a cabana with that.
#7: You don’t need to go to the store for every little thing, it saves gas.
My boyfriend and I have this awful habit of driving to Walmart (not Target, because we’re super cheap, and can’t afford the luxurious shopping experience of Target) for the sake of cotton swabs while autonomously loading up our cart with things we don’t need. I’m really working on breaking this habit, because not only do we wind up doing some major compulsive shopping, but we also waste gas making frequent trips to Walmart throughout the week.
Even though our local Walmart is only 15 minutes away, that gas adds up. I sound like a freak for complaining about a 15-minute drive, but it’s not so much the drive itself but the intention of driving somewhere to mindlessly waste money on stuff that wasn’t even on our shopping list.
Financial damage: Well, you know the price of your compulsive spending habits by now.
Have some self-control.
#8: What about that Starbucks before work?
This is probably one of the most frightening budgets for most people out there. A lot of my friends can’t go a single day without coffee before starting their work-day. Why? Because that cup of coffee is a symbol of productivity. Coffee means, “I have this energy in a cup, I’m going to drink it and therefore do some work.”
But what if I told you it’s actually possible to go to your job without coffee and, I don’t know… do some work?
Now for those of you who may have grown a caffeine addiction, I got you: brew coffee at home and save hundreds of dollars, or wean yourself off of it altogether. Drink green tea to gradually lower your caffeine dependency until you feel you can last a day without caffeine.
Something you should also consider doing: try actually sleeping the night before. Yes, that’s right – most caffeine addicts use coffee as a crutch to prevent poor career-performance as a result of their poor sleeping habits.
Good news for you, sleeping is free-ninety-nine.
$5/day x 5 days = $25/week
$25/week x 4 weeks =$100/month
$100/month x 12 months= $1,200/year
I’ve never seen coffee as expensive as a monthly mortgage payment.
#9: You don’t need to buy food during your lunch breaks either.
I know this can be a tough one since it can be a nuisance to prep up a lunch the night before right after a long day of work, but let’s face it: Your lunches are probably around $10 a meal at the minimum if you go out and buy it. And going back to what I was saying before about the soda? It adds up. Just avoid leaving work to go grab food, and heat up last night’s leftovers in the break room instead.
$12/day x 5 days = $60/week
$60/week x 4 weeks = $240/month
$240/month x 12 months = $2,880/year
Bonus: Since you waste less time traveling and waiting for your order, you can sit in the break room, enjoy your food and indulge in a full meal period. This is really important for de-stressing.
#10: You can wait until it hits Netflix.
As much as I miss date nights with my boyfriend, I do regret entertaining the idea of making him take me out to spent $50 on a movie, because I know how expensive the tickets and snacks can be. Simple solution: find something else to do for date night.
$15/ticket x 2 adults = $30 Admission
Popcorn, candy, drinks = $30 Concessions
$60 weekly movie date x 4 weeks = $240/Month
$240/month x 12 months = $2,880/Year
I’m sure you know that your Netflix membership is only $7.99 a month…
Grand total of annual compulsive spending: $11,448.
That doesn’t include the frivolous shopping at Walmart or Target that I mentioned either. I’m pretty sure there are more things you may spend your money on, like buying coffee table books, or monthly magazine subscriptions you don’t read, or creating a stockpile of things you won’t be able to use before you leave this earth. But I’m not going to analyze your finances. I’m just here to provide you with a wake-up call.
Now that I’ve beaten you down with guilt, let’s talk about the things we really do need. We need our basic necessities: food, water, and shelter, of course. Maybe we need health and car insurance, or baby food and diapers.
But here’s the one universal thing that we all really need and always forget: a comfortable life, without struggle. I understand that a life without enjoyment is a life unfulfilled, but if you’re spending every night having the time of your life, what is waiting for you the next day? Is your momentary happiness worth the future struggle and regret?
We live in a “work-to-live, live-to-work” society, so of course, we deserve nice things every now and then. But I want you to realize something important: those nice things that you treat yourself to, are you really putting them to use? Will those purchases give you a return on your investment?
Spend wisely. Food for thought.
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