I have a friend – let’s call her Gabby – who is exceptionally bad with money.
She was out shopping one day, and she literally did not have the $15 she needed to pay for her parking. It turned into a big drama, which ultimately ended with her being banned from parking her car at the shopping centre ever again by security.
As she was telling me this story, I could feel myself getting panicked. How does something like that even happen?
I then sat down with her and practically forced her to tell me how much she spends each day and what she spends it on, and then I came up with a financial plan for her to follow.
It turned out she was spending over three quarters more than what she earned each month on things that were completely unnecessary.
That’s an extreme case, but the reality is we can all be a little bit more mindful of where our money is going on a day-to-day basis. All of those little extras add up.
“Too many adults do not have an accurate view of their income and expenses,” financial advisor Bily Xiao told Forbes.
“But if you measure it, you can improve it. So start tracking, take stock of how much you’re saving, identify low-hanging fruit of expenses you can cut, and start setting some incremental goals to increase your saving.”
Here are five of the biggest things you’re wasting your money on every day…
Caffeine is one of the great gifts of modern life.
But if you’re guilty of buying cups of coffee every day, well, you’re not doing your bank balance any favours.
Two cups of coffee will easily set you back between $8 to $10 every day. Multiple that by five, and you’re spending $50 a week on caffeine.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker, it might be worth investing in your own espresso machine and a thermos.
Yes, it might be a little expensive, but it’s a one-off purchase that will end up saving you tons of money in the long run.
Think of buying lunch as a treat, not something you do every day.
If you spend around $15 to $20 a day on lunch, by the end of the week, that’s about $100 gone.
It may take a little bit more time and planning, but try to set aside a few minutes every day when you get home from work to prep your lunch for the next day. And throw in a few snacks too if you’re a grazer.
Make buying your lunch something you do only on Fridays as a special treat for making it through another week at work.
Look, we get it – sometimes you just can’t.
And that’s okay in moderation – Uber was invented for a reason.
But if you find yourself using taxis and Ubers as your main mode of transport, it’s all going to add up.
Instead, use public transport, walk, ride, or if you have to, drive yourself (provided you know there’s going to be free or cheap parking at the other end).
4. Gym memberships
Gym memberships are great… If you actually use them.
But if the last time you even stepped foot in a gym was back when neon bike shorts were in fashion, what are you even paying for?
Cancel that membership immediately – no matter how much your gym cries and begs you to stay – and then look at your alternatives.
Maybe join a team sport, sign up for a weekly class or see if there’s a pay-as-you-go option available.
Bonus: If you stop catching Ubers everywhere and invest in a bike instead, you won’t even need a gym membership.
Everybody wins. Except for your gym. Sucks for them.
5. ATM fees
Nothing makes me sadder than when I see people I love using ATMs that aren’t even affiliated with their bank.
Why do you want to give the banks more money?
Sometimes you need cash out fast, and when there’s no other option available, you just have to suck up the $3.75 ATM fee.
But don’t get into the habit of consistently withdrawing money from ATMs that aren’t associated with your bank.
Walking the extra 200 metres to your bank’s ATM will save you – literally.