When most people think of giving up a habit, they think of quitting smoking or something to that effect. However, there are a lot of little habits that people pick up in their daily routines that they rarely even think about.
At the start of the year, I made a concerted effort to give up some of my regular habits, and I found that I made very good progress in giving up six of them. Here they are, along with how I did it and how much I saved.
The daily breakfast at the coffee shop – bagel and large drink This would set me back about $7 every single morning. I still have this on rare occasion, but now it feels like a treat instead of a necessity. Instead, I drink some water in the morning and eat breakfast at home, usually some toast. Healthier and far, far cheaper. Savings: $25 a week.
Three or four music albums a week I used to download and buy music like crazy. Over the last six months, I committed myself to listening only to the huge amount of music I already had, going through it and discovering what I really liked and what I didn’t. That cut my music purchases down to about an album a month. Savings: $9 a week.
Wandering around the bookstore three nights a week I replaced this with about two sessions at the library and a heavy use of their “wait list” for various books. Since I’d buy a new book about once a week, this is saving quite a lot. Savings: $10 a week.
Golf It’s been pretty easy to trim this nearly-weekly habit to nothing at all. I haven’t actually played a round this year, which is unbelievable compared to previous summers. I have been hanging out with the usual people I golf with, though, so no real social loss. Savings: $45 a week
Vacation Every summer for the last several, I went on an expensive vacation (London, Seattle, Las Vegas, northern Minnesota). It began to seem completely routine. This summer, I moved into a house – much less expensive – and am taking some time off to spend time with visiting family. Savings: $1,000 or so
Road trips Part of my routine used to be multiple long road trips each month, several hours in length. I’ve made a concerted effort to cut down on these this year and the gas savings alone has been tremendous. Savings: $100 a month
Doing the math on those numbers puts me in the range of saving about $4,000 so far this year, enough to fully fund a Roth IRA.
What’s the key here? Look at the things you regularly do and try to trim or eliminate the ones that gobble money.