Four Important Reasons To Harp On Small Expenses

vending machine snacks

I’ve been helping a neighbor attack her New Year’s resolution to get her finances in order. She’s been writing down all of her spending for a couple of weeks and I’m helping her identify things that can be cut back. Like a lot of people, she spends a lot on things like coffee from Starbucks, movies, meals out, snacks from the vending machines, books, and other relatively small, “frivolous” expenditures.

The other day as I was pointing out, yet again, that she was wasting a lot of money on items like this, she turned to me and said, “Why are you so hard on me? You don’t want me to have any fun. Every financial book I read says the same thing yo


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13 Responses to Four Important Reasons To Harp On Small Expenses

  1. baselle says:

    So here is where you have to work with yourself – its not just numbers. If I were you, Jennifer, I’d ask your friend to go deeper. Did she get her $2 of fun on that purchase? Or was it a meh – I did it because I was stressed, or others were there and bought, or I don’t even know why I did it.

    The I don’t know why I did it or figuring out how you can avoid the situation where you spend in response to stress or peer spending is the next step. Here’s where a goal for saving comes in handy – striving for that saving goal should generate more pleasure as the spending.

    I for one, enjoy my bought coffee. But I did take a hard look at the bought coffee, thought about substituting it, thought about I why I enjoy it, figured out all the ways I can get it at a discount …. eliminated nearly all other friv spending.

    In short, its a rare person who can mindlessly save. You have to put the mindfulness in.

  2. baselle says:

    Its not an all or nothing thing. If your friend counts the number of incidences, and picks her 2 favorite pleasures, then knowing that she isn’t giving up the 2 favorites could give her the uoomph to eliminate the 3,4,5 other ones.

  3. rob62521 says:

    A couple gals I worked with mentioned today they couldn’t believe how much money they were saving by…gasp!!!…cooking at home! One said she ate lunch out every day last year and then was so tired from working they ate out come dinner time too. She retired and eats lunch at home and cooks dinner and she is amazed. Another gal liked to stop and get coffee at the gas station on the way to work, but since they are watching their pennies, she’s been making it at home and bringing it and cooked a few things this weekend to save money!

  4. ceejay74 says:

    I’m reading “All Your Worth” right now, and I love the idea of setting aside 20 to 30% of income toward wants and just deciding how to spend it from there. For me, the reason I don’t buy lattes or buy lunch during the work week much anymore, or have a smartphone with a data plan, is because I want my 20-30% of Wants money to build up and go to bigger things — a really nice dinner out once in a while, a travel fund, a housecleaner once a month!

    Maybe your friend would be more amenable to giving up the silly little purchases if she knew it was so she could have much more meaningful Wants.

  5. OfeliaTConejo says:

    I was raised by parents who were frugal. I live comfortably now and can afford what I want. I never buy a Starbucks out, but do purchase Starbucks coffee in bulk at Costco, grind it, and then make it at home. If I meet a friend for coffee, I have my made-at-home Starbucks in a thermos. There are many way to save and still have what you want. Cooking at home is healthier (less sugar and salt in your food) and way less expensive. Plan ahead and you will not be poor when you are old.

  6. pen says:

    For some people, fancy coffee is one of those really important extras. If your friend is determined to keep her expensive coffee, then some other, less important ‘fun’ will have to go. Is she willing to cut out something else to make room in her budget for good coffee? Or does she have no room for extras at all?

  7. Cindi Ford says:

    It is amazing how much money you spend on these little things. I have been cutting out most of this type of spending for a couple years now and it does make a big difference. The other benefit is when I do say get a coffee at Starbucks, it is such a treat for myself instead of an everyday thing. When you pay attention to your spending, I have found you begin to appreciate the things you spend your hard earned money on much more.

  8. Gail says:

    I am constantly amazed at people’s love for coffee and what they are willing to spend on it daily. I hate the stuff which means I’ve saved oodles of money because of not drinking it. I remember once my ex-MIL asked me and my then husband when we were going to grow up and start drinking coffee? My thought is drinking coffee doesn’t prove you are a grown up, and if I have to force myself to drink something that nasty until I learn to like it seemed rather ridiculous to me. I have had the opportunity to drink some of the freshest coffee in the world too — right on a coffee farm in Colombia and it still tasted nasty but I drank it to be polite. I will admit to a chocolate love and try to buy my treats on sale and with coupons when possible.

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  10. Marcia says:

    I’m always having discussions with hubby about this one. He isn’t one for going out and buying big ticket items without thought but he is a bit self indulgent on small items and because he is I sometimes go stir crazy. The only remedy I have found short of nagging him to death is to rein in my own spending. I figure one frugal person in a household is better than none but it sure would be a lot easier if he and I were on the same page on this issue.

  11. Marcia says:

    I don’t like coffee either and I don’t drink anything but water…I do buy a bottle of water if I’m out and need something to drink and of course haven’t thought to bring my own water from home. I do drink tea once in a while but hardly ever buy that out. I wonder why it seems to be a rite of passage here to drink coffee?! I’m fifty four years old and I’m not an adult yet because I don’t drink coffee??

  12. Louise says:

    I didn’t have a specific habit to cut out, rather little unrelated purchases across all sorts of categories so I took ‘pay yourself first’ to heart and gave myself an allowance. It’s a system I’ve been using for three years now and it works wonderfully! I started with about $180 a fortnight and scaled it down over time to the $60 I use now. I withdraw it in cash and it’s mine to spend as friviolously as I wish. The catch? Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I am not allowed to bail myself out unless I absolutely have to.

    I didn’t ‘give up’ or ‘cut out’ the latte or candybar instead I forced myself to choose between a bought lunch or a cute top. For me it was like training wheels for frugal thinking. I know this is long but I thought someone out there might like the idea.

  13. Deb says:

    Baselle, I love that how you phrased that – you’re not likely to “mindlessly save” (though mindless spending is very common). You have to make a conscious decision to do so.

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