You likely have a set of financial goals. Whether they’re bigger goals—such as having an emergency fund, putting money aside for retirement or buying a house—or smaller ones, like paying off the remainder of your credit card, we can assure you that there’s one way to reach them faster: by breaking some of your most expensive habits.
From dining out to not turning off your computer monitor, small little changes in your everyday life can actually have a larger impact than you might think. And if anything, saving some money by tweaking your habits will only put you closer to your financial goals.
Here are 9 expensive habits you might consider breaking if you’re serious about saving money:
1. Wasting Food
It’s so easier to go out and grab something instead of preparing a meal, especially when you’ve had a long day. But, if you commit to setting aside one day a week to plan out your entire week’s menu, it’ll keep you from flailing about at dinnertime. The Vintage Modern Wife Blog has a great printable template you can use.
If you want to eat out one night, it’s easy enough to add it to the weekly calendar. That way, you don’t end up buying food that goes to waste.
2. Eating Out
People in the U.S. spent over 782 billion dollars on food and beverages at restaurants in 2016. That’s an average of $28.55 per check, so it makes sense that this would start to add up quickly. Of course, it’s okay to go out every once in awhile. But you can save money if you eat in more often than not.
3. Shopping To Boost Your Mood
No matter how bad your day was, mood-boosting binge shopping shouldn’t be considered a way to cope. Sure, it can temporarily put you in a better mood, but it can also quickly become a costly habit.
Instead, try other coping mechanisms like taking a walk or spending meaningful time with friends or family.
4. Missing Contributions To Your 401k
It’s easy to put off contributing to your 401k. Maybe you’re in between jobs or don’t feel like you have the extra money to stash right now.
This handy calculator can help you figure out how much it might really be costing you to delay your savings, and can give you that push to start contributing, even if it’s in small amounts.
5. Not Holding On To Receipts
Sure, it can sometimes be a challenge to hold on to every receipt you’ve ever been handed. But if you don’t, you could be throwing money away. A lot of times, if you want to return something to a store, you’re going to need a receipt that shows when you purchased the item, how much you spent and the type of payment you used.
And if you plan on writing anything off for tax purposes, you’ll also need those receipts handy.
6. Ignoring Financial Statements
It’s so easy to avoid your credit card statement or bank statement, especially if you know you’re not going to like what you see. But by making sure to set time aside to review both, you’ll be saving yourself in the long run.
Forbes recommends reviewing your statements for recurring expenses and asking yourself if these services are really worth paying for. If you’re not getting use out of it, then cancel it. It’s also good to review statements to make sure there aren’t any charges on there you don’t recognize. And if there is, make sure to dispute them.
7. Wasting Energy
You might think nothing of leaving your phone on the for charger longer than necessary, or not putting your computer on sleep mode, but a lot of little things like that are considered “energy vampires,” and can end up costing you more than you think over the course of a year. Unplugging chargers, turning your monitors off and using a power strip are all ways you can save energy, which in turn saves money.
8. Throwing Things Away
Before you throw away anything that might have value, ask yourself if there are any other options. Maybe you could make a little extra cash by listing the item on Craigslist or in a local Facebook Sellers group? Another option could be to donate the items. That way, you can write off that charitable donation on your tax return. Just make sure you write down what you donated and ask for a receipt.
9. Drinking Socially
Usually, when going out for a few drinks, there end up being other expenses you need to factor in, including Uber or taxi fares, parking, a possible appetizer, gratuity and, yes, the actual drinks. To help offset the cost of going out, try taking advantage of happy hours, bringing a set amount of cash with you or eating before you go out so you’re not tempted to order food, too.