Anything you do every single day — day after day after day — can have a powerful impact on your life, whether it be negative or positive. Practice your jump shot everyday, and over time you’ll become the Michael Jordan of your neighborhood. Pull out a cigarette everyday, and over time you’ll likely become the wheezing, coughing, non-Michael Jordan of your neighborhood.
In essence, those who harness the power of repetition for good rather than evil can greatly improve their quality of life.
This is true with debt as much as anything. There are so many little costs built into our daily routine that we take them for granted. In doing so, we ignore a potentially powerful method of reaching our debt-free goals.
So which are the most financially frustrating daily habits?
The One For Waking Up
It’s the most common of morning sights in any office: the ubiquitous coffee cup. Sleek, warm, and very often embossed with a round, green, mermaid logo, these cups of fast-acting wake-up juice are the only way to truly get going in the morning for millions of Americans.
There’s a cost, though. A basic cup of coffee can cost anywhere from 50 cents to $2.00, and certain drinks at Starbucks can cost up to $5.00 each. Ending your coffee consumption is probably not realistic, but you can still save a lot of money every day by switching to a more affordable source for your coffee.
The very cheapest way to get your morning fix is obviously brewing it yourself — either at home or at work. If you estimate the cost of home-brewed coffee at 50 cents per cup and your current cost is more like $3.00 per cup, then you’d save $2.50 per cup. Assuming you drink two cups per day, that’s a very robust $5.00 per day to be saved.
Multiply that by 365 and you have a total yearly savings of $1,825. Talk about a wake-up call!
The One For Getting There
Aside from being awake, the other foundation of a successful work day is making sure you actually get there. Americans in general spend a lot of money simply on transporting themselves to the office everyday. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute is 24.3 minutes.
If we assume that 24 minutes of driving is more or less equivalent to 24 miles of driving, then it’s pretty easy to calculate how much these commutes are costing us, on average. Let’s say you drive a Hummer H2, which gets about 10 mpg. At current gas prices (about $3.50 per gallon) that would be a $8.40 commute.
Hopefully, though, you’re not driving an H2 to work everyday. So let’s look at a more realistic example. If you’re driving a 5-year old sedan to work, you’re probably getting around 25 mpg, which would put your total daily gas cost at about $3.35. That doesn’t sound too bad, but when we multiply by 250 (work days per year), you’re paying $834 per year for commute costs.
Taking a bus or other form of public transportation rather than driving could cost as little as $1 per day. You could potentially save $473 per year by leaving your vehicle at home. Even better, if you can find a way to walk or bike to work, you could save about $800 per year!
The One for Fueling Yourself
Sometimes it seems we spend more fueling our cars than our own bodies, but in reality the amount that we spend on food tends to be much greater — and that’s not a bad thing. However, the daily costs of food can add up quickly, especially if you eat out all the time rather than buying ingredients at a market or grocery store and making meals on your own.
A lot of people grab a sandwich from a deli during their work day, or eat at a nearby restaurant. This can cost about $5-10 per day. If you also eat out for dinner, you might end up spending $30 per day on food. On the other hand, if you bring a lunch from home and always fix dinner yourself, you could eat for as little as $15 per day.
Cutting your daily food costs from $30 to $15 per work day would save you $3,750.
Clearly there are some savings to be found within our daily habits. So if you’re currently trying to get out of debt, pay attention to the things you spend money on each and every day. By making some changes in your routine, you could probably save enough money in one year’s time to pay off your credit card.
Which daily costs have you worked to minimize in order to pay down your debt? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Image 1 credit: dyobmit
Image 2 credit: Oran Viriyincy
Image 3 credit: Salim Virji