For lack of a better word, it “sucks” to be broke. No one enjoys wondering if her credit card is going to be declined at the grocery store or gas station; and watching mounting overdraft fees add up in your checking account is not my idea of fun either. Before I knew it, one money mistake led to another, and another; and still another after that, leaving me in a state of financial (and personal) depression, only adequately described as “funk”.
I don’t remember exactly what the catalyst was, exactly. I do remember waking up one day and telling myself that there was always money somewhere, I just had to find it. I started looking, and was aghast at what I found.
Superfluous Expenses….Yes, Those
I pored over my checking account statement, and could have kicked myself when I saw how many trips to the convenience store appeared repeatedly. For me, it was cigarettes and soda; neither of which was beneficial for my health, anyway.
Despite my longing not to, I sat down, and added up the total from 90 days’ worth of little convenience store trips, and discovered that I was spending over $200 a month on these excursions. I was broke over grabbing a pack of Marlboro lights, A Monster, a soda or three for the kids, and maybe even a candy bar or two every few days. It was no wonder I was broke, I was, after all single-handedly financing the local Chevron.
I Still Wasn’t Happy
I guess you would think that finding $200 a month would be enough to make me happy, right? Not really, I’m a tough person to please. After I found that extra $200 per month and made a lifestyle change nixing the offensive cigarette habit, I knew I could still find more money if I dug just a little bit deeper.
How many times have you gone to the grocery store and bought a name brand product as opposed to store brand items? (There is no right or wrong answer here) There is often an unspoken sneer going along with the thought of buying store brand items. But why?
As I looked at the nutritional content in the store brand items versus national brands, I saw little to no difference, other than the label. There was virtually no variation in taste or nutrition, so why was I spending 30 cents to as much as $2.00 more per name brand item? In a family of five, that didn’t make any sense –and it wasn’t making cents either.
I adopted a new philosophy, if my coupons didn’t make a name brand as affordable as a store brand, the store brand wins the price war and gets to come home with me, residing in my belly. Making this tiny change, I went from spending $40 per person, per week in my home, to a staggering $21 a week per person in my household.
It might be simple, but I know a lot of people guilty of the same “sin”
It really is as ordinary as tracking small expenses, because I guarantee that they add up to gargantuan bucks in every budget. What seems like piddly $5.00 here and $6.00 or a dollar in the vending machine, easily translates into hundreds of dollars per month. By honestly auditing your spending habits and techniques, you’ll be making lifestyle changes that will snatch you out of your own financial funk, and maybe even inspire you to quit some bad habits of your own.