Updated on 03.05.07

An Average Day: Ten Tweaks I Made To My Daily Routine To Start Saving Money

Trent Hamm

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.

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  1. jake says:

    I am a computer guy and way back in the days I use to leave my computer on 24/7. The logic back then was that turning your computer on and off reduces the life of your computer because each time you turn it on there is a surge of electricity, do that enough it might fry something eventually.

    The thing is times have changed and technology for motherboards and peripherals has gotten to a point where it is a mute point. Turning your computer on and off these days isn’t as bad as it was before. Now, even if im gone for more than an hour or so I turn my machine off. Also dont forget you can set your computer’s power settings to that of your laptop. So it goes to sleep after a certain time, or turns off when you’re gone for an extended period of time.

    Also i try to buy things that are energy efficent, like using LCD(flat panel) instead of CRT(old style big monitors). The energy savings is huge between LC and CRT.

  2. Chris says:

    Jake: That would be a “moot point”, not a “mute point”.


    Just your friendly language police, at your service!

  3. MFJ says:

    I leave my computer on all the time partially because I like the security of being able to connect to it from somewhere if I need a document.

    Just curious how much your actually utility bill went down by turning your computer and its peripherals off?

  4. 6hand1 says:

    “If we were bored in the evening, we’d go shopping.”
    I think a lot of us totally relate. Personally, I’ve been nothing short of ASTOUNDED by how much money we spend just to alleviate boredom. This tip cannot be underemphasized.

    You don’t need to buys stuff to keep entertained. We just live in a society that encourages to do so, from all directions.

  5. Nathania Johnson says:

    So far, I’ve gotten myself to reduce from lattes in the morning to coffees, which are about $2 less per cup. Not much, but it’s a start.

  6. rohit chaube says:

    great tips…… have been working on no eating outside ie. restaurant or fast food……… let’s see how much can be saved till month end

  7. Eli says:

    Thats so cool how you started saving so much money and energy. I should so start doing those things!I also love shopping so maybe Ill go to the library or walking!

  8. leslie says:

    i never understood stopping for breakfast.

    i hate getting off the highway, driving slow through a town, trying to find a spot, waiting in line, taking the time to eat, then getting back on the highway hoping that traffic is still good….

    honestly, i just save money because im lazy. im too lazy to leave the office to go buy a latte. or to leave my cozy couch to go shopping.

    however, i’m not too lazy to make a real dinner.

  9. Ron says:

    Great tips all the way around. Entertainment, whether for my wife and I or for our children can tend to eat up a lot of money. We’re finally beginning to learn however, that our kids favorite toys tend to be sticks they find or the homemade swords and bows and arrows that cost essentially nothing (we have boys!).

    We’ve also learned that we can check out movies from the library. We might not have the selection that we had at Netflix, but it’s all free!

  10. LMR says:

    Hey, Chris, if Jake told you to “shut up” about using “mute” instead of “moot”, would THAT be a “mute point”?

    Kidding!!! I notice that kind of thing, too. (I am also a really, really poor punster!)

    As for the tips, about the only thing I could change that I’m not already doing is turn off the TV more. If it was in the evening, I would have to turn on some lights to do some reading. It would be better for my mind, to be sure, but I don’t know about the electricity savings. Most of my bulbs are still incandescent because of the mercury, but I have replaced some that I’m fairly sure my kids won’t be able to break without some serious effort on their part.

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