We all have habits and addictions. Some are harmful, some are harmless, but most of them cost money. Paying for them may come at the expense of real necessities or missed opportunities to add to your savings.
Okay, to make you feel better, I will share my vice… I love Venti Soy Vanilla Lattes from Starbuck’s. And I know I am not the only one with such cravings. I have a friend who can’t start her workday without a giant fountain Diet Coke. Another has to buy a lottery ticket several times per week. Another friend buys daily snacks from the vending machine instead of at the store. For many people, dining out or ordering carry-out is an incurable habit.
Like most vices, quitting them cold turkey usually isn’t realistic or successful. And if the only harm is to your budget (and not your body), then maybe it’s better to manage rather than eliminate them. After all, we all deserve a little treat here and there. But show me any regular expense and I’ll show you how to lessen its impact on your wallet.
Quit Smoking. I won’t even get into the healthcare costs of tobacco use; let’s just examine the monthly expense. At $5.15 for the average pack, cigarettes can cost a smoker more than $150 a month and almost $2,000 annually. http://www.cancer.org/research/infographicgallery/tobacco-related-healthcare-costs?gclid=COnazdL7wb0CFafm7AodHFwAow
Bottom line, just don’t smoke, it’s not worth what it does to your body or budget.
Make your vice, part of your budget.
Indeed, it may not surprise you that I budget for my vices. I don’t like to feel deprived, but I also know all these little things add up. Five dollars here or five dollars there on coffee or takeout, can really add up quickly, and usually without you realizing. I’m not here to judge, just to remind you to allow for addictions and habits when you build and follow your budget. If you know you will spend the money anyway, why not spend less?
Play more, less often
. I don’t play the lottery (OK, an occasional PowerBall ticket), but I understand the appeal. This is another item most people buy one at a time. If it’s once a day, scale back to five and get them all at once. You’ll save the daily trip, and anything else you buy when you’re there.
Stay home for drinks. If your weekly girls night takes place at a bar, why not hold the gathering on a rotation at someone’s house? For the price of one person’s cocktails or wine, you can all drink the good stuff at home. Same goes for those decadent appetizers. http://www.delish.com/entertaining-ideas/parties/cocktail-parties/fruity-alcoholic-drinks#slide-1
Put it on a card. No, not that card! I’m talking about gift cards. For example, I control my weakness for my Starbuck’s lattes by buying myself a $25 gift card. https://www.starbucks.com/card
When I get the craving, I reach for the card. If it runs out before the end of the month, then I’m out of luck, no coffee goodness for me. Often times, though, I end up using it less than I would my cash or debit card. Maybe wanting to preserve the balance keeps me from overindulging. This works for restaurants too! It’s a great budgeting tool.
Whether it is a latte or that burger and fries from Wendy’s, we all have our regular habits. If you need to cut expenses, try looking here first. If you cannot part with that daily indulgence, then account for it. No habit or vice is worth going into debt over.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.