Losing money can be like a nuclear-scale catastrophe—a sudden serious illness, a stock market crash or the collapse of a business. But it can also be like death from a thousand cuts—tiny, seemingly inexpensive habits when added up can lead to the loss of hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year, money that soundlessly gets siphoned from our wallets without our noticing it. Here are 5 daily habits that seem innocuous enough, but are actually making us poorer.
There’s not much use preaching about the health implications of smoking. The gory pictures on every packet of locally-purchased cigarettes make that obvious enough. As someone who’s been on the other end of the cigarette, don’t give me flak for this but I can tell you that smoking is a habit that actually makes life more stress-free.
But seriously, smoking is one of the most expensive habits one can have. A carton of cigarettes costs around $11 to $12, and a modest smoker gets through perhaps 2-3 packs a week. That’s an insane $22 to $36 a week—and $88 to $144 a month. Those who are pack-a-day smokers are spending $77 to $84 a week or $308 to $336 a month.
2. Air conditioning
There is a reason landlords are so afraid their tenants will leave the air con on 24/7. Air conditioning is probably the item that contributes most to your electricity bill, especially if you can’t sleep without it. Running a single air con for 8 hours can cost you about $1,186 a year. And we haven’t even factored in the cost of servicing the machine.
Just reducing the amount of time you use your air con by a few hours a day can save you hundreds of dollars a year. One trick you can try is to turn on the air con about half an hour before you’re about to go to bed, and then turn it off when you actually sleep. The sheets will be chilled enough to lull you to sleep before the heat takes over again, unless you’re an insomniac.
If you find yourself queuing for a Starbucks coffee every morning before you head to the office, know that the price of staying awake at work is costing you $5 a day, or $25 a week (not including weekends), or $100 a month. $100 a month on Starbucks coffee isn’t such a modest amount, especially when you consider it’s $1,200 a year. That’s enough to pay for a nice holiday in a foreign land.
Before you resign yourself to sleeping your way through the next year at work, take heart in the fact that most office pantries carry some kind of coffee or tea. As an added plus, it’ll contain less sugar than that Frappucino you usually order, meaning you’ll be lowering your risk of diabetes at the same time.
4. Watching YouTube videos on your mobile phone
If you’re addicted to streaming videos on phone on your daily commute, unless you’re on a mobile plan that gives you gazillions of gig a month, you’re probably guilty of racking up excess charges on your mobile data plan.
Overshoot your plan’s data limit by just 2 GB and you could find yourself paying $17 to $20 more a month. That’s not a small amount when you consider that you’re already paying about $40 to $100 for your data plan itself.
Now, when you really think about it, do you really want to pay good money for a bunch of YouTube videos of dancing cats? Sounds pretty damn ridiculous, right?
If the cheery green, red and orange logo of 7-11 never fails to draw you in and you always find yourself emerging with a tube of sweets, a packet of chips or a Slurpee in hand, it’s time to wake up and actually be conscious of the fact that that small change you’re spending on mindlessly consumed junk food adds up over time.
Just wandering into a 7-11 outlet and buying a bottle of Ice Mountain water and a pack of Fisherman’s Friend once a day will cost you $3.90. Over the course of the work week, that’s $19.50, or $78 a month. You could go for a couple of nice restaurant meals with that money instead of mindlessly popping sweets into your mouth.
Do you have any expensive daily habits you’d like to give up? Tell us why in the comments.