Breaking My Money Wasting Habits



Humans are creatures of habit. We create, or inadvertently fall into, our routines and have a hard time straying away from them. I personally like being a creature of habit. I like routine and the predictability that comes with it all. September to June are definitely more zen for me than July and August. Some of my daily routine is the same in the summer but we have more disruptions as a whole, and while things like family vacations are always welcome and usually needed, I eagerly await that return to normalcy. Most daily routine habits are harmless but I think we have all fallen victim to at least one money wasting habit in our lives.

For me, one of them was my daily walk at lunch. When I’m given enough time I try to get outside for a quick walk around my workplace to break up my day. What started as a just a daily walk, turned into a near daily stop at the drugstore for whatever object (usually a bottle of water or something even more stupid like nailpolish) and finishing with a coffee.

I don’t even remember how it happened. I would walk, on the way back go into the drugstore and then finishing with a coffee before returning to work. Once in a while, not a big deal but I was starting to do this 3-5 times per week and I was starting to notice specifically that I didn’t like it. I was uncomfortable with this new routine. The waste of money- I didn’t really need anything at the drugstore nor did I need that second coffee for the day so I had to do something about it.

The first step in breaking my money wasting habit was recognizing exactly what I was doing. This is often the hardest part for people. For me, the clue was, one day I went for a walk per normal only realized I didn’t have my wallet on me. For a second I felt panicky then recognized exactly what was going on. I was going for a walk, why did I need access to cash? It was then that it dawned on me what I had been doing. While small in comparison to some people’s money wasting habits, me wasting that $20 per week wasn’t going unnoticed and I knew it had to stop.

Once I realized what this new habit was doing to me (wasting upwards of $80 per month on stuff I didn’t need) I came up with a plan to stop, immediately.

My routine used to be going for a simple walk. What had changed? For me it started by buying more water for the rest of my shift (I’m not opposed to tap water but that tap water at one of my workplaces  just doesn’t taste good). I was bringing water with me (I’m rarely seen without my refillable water bottle on me, anywhere) but my bottle was empty by lunch and I’d want more. Rather than go to the store to buy more, even if it was less than $1, I simply started filling up two bottles in the morning and carrying both with me to work. Problem one fixed.

The second part of my money wasting habit was buying a second coffee in the day. I’m not going to get into the whole ‘’latte factor’’ argument because quite honestly I think it’s stupid, spend your money how you want within reason and without compromising your other goals. It wasn’t about buying the coffee because for me, most days I was already buying one coffee in the morning and was fine with it. Once you start doubling that though, it was too much-for me.

This habit started when I began volunteering to pick something up for one of our receptionists while I was going out. Most of the time she’d say no but every now and then she’d ask me to bring her back a coffee and this opened the passage for me to get one for myself at the same time. She stopped working at our office but I continued to go for that coffee anyway. This was an easier habit to break but I did it. I would leave my wallet at work and not allow myself to stop. I won’t lie, I missed that second coffee but after about three days I didn’t think about it again and started to enjoy just walking.

A new habit isn’t necessarily a bad (or money wasting) one but when you notice it starting to affect the rest of your finances in a negative manner, action needs to be taken. Here is a another good resource for how to help break bad habits you may have.

What habit do you have/did you have that you consider to be a money wasting habit? How did you solve the problem?

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  1. Kathy from CT says

    Great article….and is making me think. Mine is when I see something, it is a great price, and then I purchase it in multiple colors. For example, I am switching to light-weight sweaters & tops (darn hot flashes!) for work. I found a style & fit for both that I love & at a great price… I bought each in every color! Oops, I am trying to get out of that habit, so now I am critically looking at each & whittling it down to half.

    So that is my trigger and something I struggle with. It’s not that I can’t afford them, I can, it’s that I don’t need such a variety of them.

  2. Having a bad habit is hard to deal with, as the way with building up a good habit. It was hard for me to break my smoking, and it takes me years to finally get rid of this out of my life.