5 Spending Habits You Must Break

4 min to read

Many of us may have unknowingly acquired a routine of spending that keeps us from reaching long-term goals. This repeated cycle of behavior may keep leading us down the same path when it comes to our spending. You may have the best intentions of being on your best shopping behavior well before you enter the store, but find a different outcome after you leave. Although this wasn’t what you had in mind initially, this purchasing pattern keeps repeating itself. Discover 5 spending habits to watch out for.

1. Avoid the anti-brown bag trap.
According to Forbes, the average American spends $10 twice a week on lunch. This totals up to just over one thousand dollars a year. If you want to find a quick way to reign in your spending, cut back on eating out during the week. Before you think you have to take a crash course in home economics, you don’t even need to know how to actively cook to do so. Get into the habit of packing a lunch from home. Make a sandwich, a wrap or bring leftovers from the previous night’s meal. They don’t take a lot of time to make and will save you money. Also, start small with slow cooker recipes. After adding needed ingredients, this cooking appliance sits on your counter-top and functions on autopilot. Just be sure you keep track of how long the item needs to cook. Economical meals don’t have to take forever to make.

2. Eat the groceries that you purchase.
While coupon usage remains to be a hot trend, the effort and money saved is literally being thrown in the garbage. According to the USDA, Americans throw away 40 percent of their food. This is bad news for your budget and the environment. It’s as if you are imposing a penalty on yourself every time an item goes uneaten and in the garbage can. It also releases methane gas into the environment. A simple way to combat this is to keep track of what you bought on a list. Write down the items you purchased from the store and the date. Keep the list on your fridge or close by. This way you can have a reminder on the fridge to show you what’s available to eat before it’s expiration date.

3. Haste makes money waste at the store.
Understanding the psychology of purchasing matters when you’re trying to identify and break a bad habit. Being in a rush while shopping can be costly. A shopping engagement study revealed that now more than ever, buying decisions are being made in-store. Product display and in-store marketing materials can throw you off course and play a strong role in maximizing sales. Those who were in a hurry were most likely to spend more compared to other types of shoppers such as bargain hunters, trip planners and those exploring for inspiration.

4. Being a gamer adds up.
You may have a handle on lattes and other physical items but are you spending money on digital games? From those polled in a recent study, people are spending an average of two hours a day on apps. A bulk of that time is devoted to playing games. It’s easy to justify a purchase when it doesn’t cost that much. No matter what you are spending the money on, the small purchases can add up causing leaks in your budget. That money can be better spent. Stash that cash for a bigger goal of getting a car or home or even paying off debt. No matter where you rather put the money, breaking your budget with regular small purchases can greatly throw you off course.

5. The Pet Factor
Don’t let Rover eat you out of house and home. Man’s best friend and other furry family members are taking a large chunk of change from your wallet. Americans spent 55.7 billion on their pets in 2013. The largest portion of that money went towards food. If owners tend to eat healthier, they also tend to feed their animals healthier foods. This can be expensive. So what might be better for your beloved animal companions, may be hurting your bottom line. Be sure to take care of your pet without going overboard.

Habit formation is powerful when it comes to spending. Clever  in-store marketing can influence our buying decisions causing us to spend in ways we didn’t plan on. Be aware of habits that can be draining your wallet in an effort to put your money towards more important goals. Simple tweaks like this can greatly help you reshape your patterns.

Karen Cordaway is a part-time teacher by day and freelance writer by night. She’s a recovering shopaholic who spent years wasting money until she learned how to stop by reading personal finance books. In her spare time, Karen enjoys trips to NYC, photography, authentic Mexican food and believes chocolate is a food group. You can also find her writing on MoneySavingEnthusiast.com