Let’s face it: none of us is a saint. We all have regrettable habits, many of which only benefit us in the very short term. Yes, grabbing that coffee on the way to work warms you up, tastes great, and gives you a boost to start the day… all wonderful things until you realize your hot brews cost you a whopping $1100 this year. For some people that’s okay, but the vast majority of us could put that thousand dollars to far better use. And it’s not just coffee drinkers who have room for improvement. Here are a few ways we can all behave a little more responsibly and save a lot more cash.
- Don’t let food go bad. How many times have you opened your fridge only to be greeted by the stench of rotting vegetables or moldy cheese? To keep your meat, fruits, leftovers, and other perishables from spoiling store them in airtight containers. Vacuum-sealable containers are pretty easy to come by these days, and some brands even have space for you to record the date on them so you know if it’s still safe to eat. Another solid idea: keep the foods that are closest to expiry within your line of sight in the fridge instead of tucked away at the back or in drawers where you’re likely to forget about them.
- Buy in bulk. If the main reason you typically eat out is because you don’t have food at home, this tip is for you. Going to restaurants is definitely a fun treat once in a while, but you shouldn’t rely on the local diner to keep you fed. Buying ingredients in bulk and batch cooking is a fantastic way to break the habit of eating out too often. Author and LifeSpeak expert Steve Prentice recommends taking time each Sunday night to plan your week, which can include meal preparation. Focus on one or two dishes that can be made in large enough quantities to last the week, and that can easily be packed for lunches. Casseroles and pasta dishes are perfect for this, but don’t limit yourself to just meals. Blending your own smoothies and buying large bags of coffee grounds or tea leaves to brew at home are similarly effective ways of curbing the habit of eating out.
- Run your car efficiently. Idling, speeding, and postponing servicing appointments are all bad driving habits that waste gas and money. The average American driver could save up to $650 worth of gas each year by simply cutting the engine rather than idling. Speeding also reduces fuel mileage and can result in hefty fines, not to mention the safety risks. Lastly, if you don’t take your car for regular servicing you’ll end up paying more money for more complicated repairs in the long run. Remember what grandma always said, “a stitch in time saves nine.”
- Use your memberships, or cancel them. Do you subscribe to any magazines? If so, how many times have you read one cover-to-cover? You probably purchased the subscription fully intending to soak up every last article and photo spread, but now most issues go straight from your mailbox to your recycling box. You’re not necessarily off the hook if you don’t read magazines, either. Perhaps you’ve let an unused gym pass expire, neglected your Apple Music account, or left a subscription box unopened. Because these services already have your credit card on file they can continue to bill you indefinitely, so it’s best to cancel your inactive accounts and keep that cash in your pocket.
- Enjoy your local amenities. Hate to break it to you, but the pool in your building isn’t free. Neither are the parks or bike paths in your neighborhood. These amenities are all factored into your rent or mortgage payments because they increase your property value. You might as well enjoy them as much as possible since you’re already paying for them, so fire up the rooftop barbecue or go for a stroll on the trails. Not only will you prevent that money from being wasted, but you’ll also participate in healthy activities—and you might even befriend your neighbors while you’re at it!
Change is hard
Now that you’re at the end of this post, it’s time to take action. No, not next week. Not even tomorrow. Right now. Changing your behavior is difficult, especially if you’re trying to break an old habit, but hopefully by now you’re convinced it’s worth it. For more advice on making positive life changes, log into your LifeSpeak account or click here for guest access.
Also published on Medium.
Originally published at lifespeak.com