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Plugging The Money Drain, Part IV - Incidentals

Jan 21, 2008
This article is the fourth and last one in the series of plugging the money drain article series. There were three articles before this article. You should also read the first three parts of this article series for learning more.

It is quite amazing how quickly the little things add up! Even a very modest $5 work lunch turns into $1,250 a year on lunches! Buying one small bottle of water or vending machine soda a day will cost at least $250 a year, and coffees typically $750. Are you sure you don't want to pack your lunch and bring drinks from home or make them at the office? Perhaps bringing from home looks more attractive now that you realize giving them up for a year just might allow you to buy a hot tub or take a nice vacation!

The problem is, when we make these little purchases we rarely collect a receipt and review how much we are spending on them every month. It's like having a fast leak in a faucet, only in this case you don't hear it dripping. It is a good thing to know how you are spending every cent so you can make better decisions about money according to your personal wishes. If you like, start keeping a record of every purchase, large or tiny. But if you have yet to get around to doing that, you might also skip that step and go directly to putting yourself on a weekly budget for your spending cash. If you typically take out $100 at the beginning of the week and it disappears, try $50... and when the money is gone, it's gone.

You'll need to plan better, but it will make you think. You'll catch yourself pausing before making a small purchase. The day before your work week you might do a little organization, and shop for whatever food and containers you will need. Soups, salads, sandwiches and leftovers are great staples for lunch.

The average modern household spends more than half of its food budget eating out, and usually it isn't even counted. To put it another way, if you are spending $200 a month on groceries, you might want to take a careful look to see if you are spending at least that much again eating away from home through purchasing coffees, lunches, restaurant meals, and carry-out.

Food is the most common cash drain, but by no means the only one. If you are fighting clutter in your home, chances are good you are making a lot of other little purchases as well. Some purchase don't cause clutter but spend your money just as quickly: cigarettes, alcohol, salon visits, etc. You might want to take a closer look at whether this is the way you want to spend your money. All of these habitual ways of spending our cash, have huge potential for savings. Cutting back even 20% can allow you to pay off some debts or make larger purchases that will have greater value to you.
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