You pull through the Starbucks drive thru to get another Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato. You can taste the sweet sugar and eyeopening caffeine even before you hand your money over to the cashier decked out in that oh-so-familiar green apron. Ah, there’s nothing like your morning indulgence. After all, you deserve it, right?
As you park your car at work you slurp the last bit of caramel from the bottom of your clear plastic cup and then the guilt trip hits. You probably bought too many drinks too many days in a row, and now you are subject to an empty wallet of torment.
You see, the thought has hit you that you might be spending a little too much money at Starbucks. So, you make the commitment – again – to get ahold of your finances and stop the madness. That is, until you decide you need something to wake you up so you can be a productive member of society tomorrow morning.
Has this happened to you? Probably many times. I think we all make Starbucks-like purchases. If it’s not coffee, it’s ice-cream at Cold Stone. If it’s not ice-cream at Cold Stone, it’s the Snickers bar at the grocery store checkout. Whatever it is for you, you’re probably thinking of it right now.
It’s easy to justify small purchases because they don’t involve very much money per transaction. We convince ourselves that we can afford another treat because it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’d argue if we add up those transactions over a month or year’s time, it would make us both want to puke – a puke-fest.
The Cost of Small Consistent Purchases
Before I got married, I spent my money on whatever I wanted. I really didn’t give a second thought to where I was spending my money. When I decided that money management was something worthwhile, I took a look at where I was blowing my money all those years – and how much of it was going out the window. It wasn’t pretty.
I estimated that I was spending hundreds of dollars per month – think over $400 – at KFC, Burger King, and Country Donut. Uh oh. That’s a lot of lost money that could have gone to a millionaire retirement.
Today I challenge you to take a look at where you are spending your money. Think about the small consistent purchases that have become a part of your everyday routine. Yes, it’s a rather painful process, but it’s worth the effort if you’re willing to make a change.
How to Change Your Spending Behavior
Once you’ve identified your fix, it’s time to unfix it . . . or fix it . . . you know what I mean. It’s time to change your spending behavior! Now, I know some of you think that you’re a master of self-control and you can stop a habit by just snapping your fingers. But I don’t believe you. So I’m going to share with you how I prevent myself from overspending on everyday small purchases – Starbucks-like purchases.
1. Start a you-know-what (budget).
Oh, how I’ve come to loathe saying the you-know-what word. Here’s what I picture when I say it: I picture you automatically envisioning me with some nerdy duct-taped glasses that I push up higher on my face as I hand you a scientific calculator. Stop it now! You-know-what’s are important! So do one and get started today.
2. Get rid of those credit cards and sign up for a cash back debit card instead.
Whenever you delay spending your real money (the money you have in your bank account or in your wallet), you spend more money. It’s easy to spend when you know that you don’t have to pay for something until later. Just ask the truckloads of college graduates who financed their wardrobe with student loans. Ouch. That was a zinger.
Give PerkStreet a whirl instead. I found that PerkStreet saves us a lot of money because it forces us to spend our own money and we get rewarded (or perked) similar to a credit card. Boom, as Steve Jobs would say.
3. Better yet, force yourself to spend cash.
Guys, you’re going to hate all that loose change in your wallet. Does Starbucks price their drinks at an even $3, $4, or $5? Nope. It’s always something like $3.49. That’s two quarters and a penny back in change if you’re lucky pal.
By restricting yourself to spending cold hard paper money, you’ll think twice before you trade your crisp bills for coinage. Trust me.
Gals, does this work for you too?
4. Change your driving route.
Actually, never mind. There’s a Starbucks on every corner. You can’t get away.
But if Starbucks isn’t your fix, this one might work for you. Changing what you’re exposed to can help curb your spending habit.
Readers, what’s your fix? Where do you make small, consistent purchases? How are you curbing your spending? Leave a comment below! I’ll meet you there. Promise.
Note to Starbucks lawyers, businesspeople, and employees: I love your coffee. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll continue to be a customer, but understand I still need money for gas in my car.