I find it so interesting to learn what people splurge on and where they cut back (remember how interesting I found Refinery 29’s money diaries?!). For example, living in New York City, I walked by dozens of coffee shops on my way to work, which made it really hard to convince myself to make me own coffee at home (but I did, most of the time!). Some of my friends insist on splurging on things like bras or special types of shampoo. I definitely like to have extra spending money for, well, unnecessary items (home decor > food…sorry I’m not sorry!), so here are a few of the areas where I’ve learned to cut back…
1) Coffee. I definitely treat myself to Starbucks every now and then, but it’s really, really easy to say no to spending money on coffee because 1) it isn’t allowed on public transportation in DC, and that’s generally how I get to work, and 2) I work in the suburbs and can’t leave during the day, so while the temptation to grab a 2 pm iced coffee is still there, I simply can’t do anything about it! I bought a Keurig 2 and a half years ago and it’s held up fabulously ever since (knock on wood…I’m always a little worried about the lifespan of those things!). If you have a Keurig, use it. K-cups can certainly be expensive, but if you know where to buy ’em (places like Costco, Trader Joe’s, and even HomeGoods are all great options!), you’ll definitely be saving money in the long run.
2) Books. This one is only half true, because I still buy a LOT of books (if you live in a big city, you may end up being on the waitlist for a book FOREVER…I swear that I’ve been waiting for it to be my turn to pick up Lauren Graham’s book since February). While I’m trying to be better about using my library card (cue the Arthur library song…anyone?), I try to order the cheapest possible books (the “used” category on Amazon and websites like ThriftBooks are super cost effective). When you think about it, two books at Barnes and Noble will easily run you between $30 and $40, so while spending $4 is still unnecessary, it’s still a step in the right direction!
3) Lunches out. I’m very fortunate that my workplace has a cafeteria (I work at a school, after all!) and it’s very, very affordable to eat there (only $3 a day for unlimited portions). If your office offers something similar or reimburses you for food (I’ve heard of big firms doing this), definitely take advantage of the option! The food in our cafeteria is fairly healthy, fresh, and delicious, and if I were bringing lunch from home all year long, I’m sure I’d end up hungry by 2 pm anyway (hoping that this won’t be an issue now that the cafeteria is closed for the summer…I never know what to pack that will keep me full all day long!). If you find yourself stepping out for lunch and hate spending $10 a day on salad, try to set a limit. Maybe you’ll only buy lunch when it’s a social event (i.e.: going with coworkers), or maybe every Friday will be your lunch out day (the first summer I was interning in New York, I chose Monday to be the day I’d go out and grab a good salad…Fridays are already exciting enough, but on Monday I definitely needed something to look forward to!). I also once read an article about someone who managed to buy a week’s worth of lunch supplies for $19 IN NEW YORK. Challenge yourself to try to top that…I don’t think I could!
4) Cable. This is the first time I’ve ever had cable, and I only got it because it was actually cheaper to purchase a combined cable and internet plan than just internet alone. However, I know that I’m mainly a Netflix watcher and therefore would never pay extra for cable since I really never, ever watch TV. With so many shows available for free online, I am totally fine cutting that out if necessary!
Where do you save and where do your splurge? I’m curious!