Most financial gurus speak about the ‘latte effect’. The late effect describes the money spent by drinking coffee each day. It gets expensive – especially if it’s fancy coffee like Starbucks.
This post goes beyond the 7am coffee run. In this post, I’ll talk about the many day-to-day money wasters which tempt us. I’ll call them out and then give you suggestions on how to fight them. Let’s get to work!
The Morning Commute
Driving a car is expensive! According to AAA, it costs $8,698 to operate a car each year. But there are ways to get that number down… way down.
Consider driving into work earlier. This way, you avoid the stop-and-go traffic. When your car idles, it’s getting zero mpg. Pitiful. By heading in earlier, you’ll be able to breeze through green lights giving you excellent mpg. You’ll also get a closer parking spot to the door.
Take Advantage of Break Room Food
If there’s food that’s up for grabs… grab it! At the last place I worked, restaurants from all over town were always bringing in free food. They did it for advertising. But so few people in my building cared to walk down to the break room and enjoy. I did! I probably ate lunch for free one day/week.
Don’t be greedy but do take your share. Not eating the food is like leaving money out to rot.
Say ‘No’ to Eating Out
Get in the habit of packing lunch each day. Packing lunch will cost just a few dollars when done right. Honestly $2. Or maybe $3 if you buy fussy ingredients. Going out to lunch ends up costing between $5-$10. That means you’re spending double what you could be spending.
However, this sometimes makes you look cheap or stuck up. Colleagues may invite you to go along but you politely decline. If this happens, bring your colleagues snacks on Friday’s. This will help keep the love between everyone. And you’ll still be saving big money.
Get a Reusable Water Bottle
Buying disposable bottles is a pain and it’s expensive. Get a reusable water bottle instead. Good ones can be found for less than $30. I do recommend buying a good one. You’ll be refilling it multiple times per day. You’ll want to use something you enjoy.
Say hooray to no more lugging home cases of bottled water!
Watch the Energy Usage in Your Home
There are a lot of ways to use less energy. For starters, consider adjusting the thermostat during the day when no one is home. In winter, turn the temperature down. This saves money and most people like sleeping in the cold anyway. But most people don’t like waking up and being too cold to shower. If this happens, buy an electric towel heater. Or buy a space heater for the bathroom. Yes, these are additional expenses but they will pay for themselves overtime.
Watch out for vampire electronics. These are electronic devices that suck power even when not in use. For best protection, unplug everything that doesn’t get used constantly. I even unplug my cell charger whenever it’s not in use.
Also watch how often the oven is used. Consider using it less in the summer, as to not heat up the home. Food doesn’t really need to be put in a pre-heated oven either. I just throw my food in right away. Opening up the oven once it’s heated lets out valuable energy and adds to the cooking time. I also like to cook 2 or 3 things whenever I turn the oven on. It’s such a cavernous space inside, after all.
Not Getting Rewards for Spending Money
Get a credit card or debit card that offers rewards. Although not life-changing, these rewards do help. There are several cards out today which offer 5% cashback. That’s $5 back for every $100 you spend! That’s like getting a few free gallons of fuel each time you go on a big grocery shopping trip. That’s alright by me!
The Latte Effect Expounded
As you can see, there are many ways to spend money during the day. We want to squash them down as much as possible (while still retaining a high quality of life). Some of these things seem small. By compounding them on a yearly basis, saving just $1 per day equals $365 per year. That’s enough to fund a new Chromebook each year. Or a new cell phone. Or a weekend spa retreat. Or it can go towards your retirement account. These are all better ways to spend your money, in my opinion. Pretty soon you won’t even miss the lunches out.
I’m a personal finance freelance writer and webmaster. I welcome you to visit me at www.thefrugalpreneur.com