I was reading through some of my older journals and notes on various things when I came across a little thing I assembled when I was first digging myself out of debt. It was basically a list of little things I was changing in my life – what I did before, and what I did after the change. At this point, the “after” column feels so normal that I can barely remember the “before” column at all. I thought it was a great illustration of how little things during the day can bleed you dry.
Before: I stopped for breakfast on my way into work, usually for a giant orange juice and a bagel.
After: I started taking a bottle of orange juice and a bagel (or cereal bar) with me when I left in the morning. Four or five of these bottles (which I refill out of a huge jug) are the same cost as just one of the glasses, and the bagels are maybe one tenth of what I would spend at the shop.
Before: I would speed like crazy to get to work on time, burning gas.
After: Since I don’t have to stop for breakfast, I now drive a much more leisurely pace, and my truck’s MPG has gone up as a result.
Before: I’d drink a latte in the morning – and another in the afternoon.
After: I drink one about once a week. I replaced it with the coffee in the office or, now, water, since I’m working on breaking my caffeine addiction.
Before: I would go out to lunch with coworkers every day.
After: Now, I dine in every day with a different batch of coworkers. I still get the same networking and information gathering done, but it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg.
Before: I’d hit the vending machine two or three times a day.
After: I keep beverages at my desk that I brought in from home. This saves money on each drink. Plus, now that I’m focusing on breaking the caffeine addiction, I’m barely drinking these and drinking water instead, which is free.
Before: I’d stop for takeout on the way home.
After: Almost every meal is cooked at home now – it’s cheaper and massively healthier.
Before: I’d throw out the leftover food.
After: I save the leftovers and pack them for lunch the next day, reusing the food we already have and saving more money.
Before: I’d leave my computer and peripherals on all day and all night.
After: I almost exclusively use a laptop, which is powered off except when I’m using it. The only time any peripherals go on is when I use them, too, like the printer. This results in massive energy use reduction.
Before: I’d watch television on our 32″ CRT unit for three or four hours.
After: Most evenings, we don’t watch any television at all. When we do watch something, the television is on for long enough to watch the program, then it goes off. We fill the time with our child, with reading, and (for me, at least) with blogging.
Before: If we were bored in the evening, we’d go shopping.
After: If we’re bored in the evening, we go to the library or go on a walk or play a game.
Perhaps these ideas will inspire you to find some little ways to trim the financial fat from your daily routine.