9 Bad Spending Habits That are Killing Your Budget

9 Bad Spending Habits That are Killing Your Budget

Alright, it is time to get our budgets back on track and get rid of bad spending habits.

Getting rid of these horrible spending habits could possibly save you thousands of dollars a year. It has for my wife and I.

We all have been guilty of bad spending habits at one point or another in our life. In fact, a lot of us might still be guilty of these bad spending habits, I know I am.

Let’s take a look at these 9 bad spending habits that are killing your budget and save you some money!

1. Not Paying Attention

We all need to pay attention to our bad spending habits. This is something that really turned around my wife’s and my finances. We now track our spending on an almost daily basis by using the Mint application.

Tracking your spending allows you to see how quickly frivolous spending can really add up. Until then you really do not realize how those horrible spending habits are really killing your budget. My eyes were blown wide open after the first week of tracking.

Here is what we did. We downloaded the Mint application and set up our budget within the application. Checking the application almost daily I am able to monitor our transactions and see how we are doing in each budget category. I am also always trying to see new ways as to where we can save money.

I love Mint. It is clean. Simple to use. But very powerful. If you do not know Mint you should check out our Mint App Review. Here Andrew walks you through as to what the application is and what it can do for you.

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2. Making Excuses

It is so easy to make excuses to enable bad spending habits. It is so easy to skew the purchase from a ‘Want’ to a ‘Need’.

But do you really ‘Need’ it? My guess is probably no!

Instead of focusing on materialistic items, focus on your final goal. Remember that you want to pay off your car by next year. Or that you want your student loan payments to disappear three years from now.

It might be tough in the beginning to let that item go but guess what. Something better will be out once you pay off your debt. Treat yourself then!

3. Eating Out

I talked about this a few weeks ago but eating out is the toughest on this list for me. I love food and I live in a foodie city, Denver. Surrounded by so much good food and having a 1-year old that wears you out on a nightly basis makes it very tempting to eat out a lot!

One solution would be the PBJ Theory that Andrew came up with a few weeks back. If you have not read it, I suggest you do. It is very cleverly written.

While I think think the PBJ Theory is a good emergency fall back, I do not think you should always rely on it (Andrew agrees with this). Instead, plan that you will be too tired to cook an intense meal (an hour or more cooking time) a few times a week.

There are plenty of healthy recipes out there that can be put together within 20 minutes. Just the other night I made us these very yummy black bean quesadillas for dinner. The meal took about 15 minutes to cook and we were very satisfied for under $8.00.

The best part about this meal is that all of the ingredients could be frozen if you do not get to the meal right away.

Comic Courtesy of: http://www.thecomicstrips.com/store/add.php?iid=162132

4. Not Eating What You Have

We have all been here. We find some awesome food that we plan on eating in the coming days. Then those days pass, then weeks pass, and then a couple months. One night you are hungry for a snack and remember that awesome food you found a while back. So you run to the fridge to only find it growing a tree out of it (mold).

Do not be this guy. This is literally just throwing money into the garbage.

My wife and I keep a pretty tight weekly menu throughout the week. I make our meals to feed four people so we will have leftovers for lunch the next day. Then that is it. Those leftovers are done. If there are more, like from a crock-pot meal, I will freeze for a meal later on down the road.

We also do not buy that many perishable snacks for home. Most of the snacks we have are healthy non-perishables. We do not buy any more until those initial snacks are gone.

For more information on how we save money on groceries check out my 7 Ways on How to Save Money Groceries article.

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5. Worrying About What Others Have

As humans, we tend to compare ourselves to others. This comparison could include lifestyle, looks, or what the other has that you do not. Do not fall into this trap as it can lead into a dark spiral that creates bad spending habits.

You might feel the urge to go buy that sweet new phone because your buddy has it. Or you might want to upgrade your car because it looks like a junker and not like the sweet new SUV your neighbor just got.

Sure, it would be awesome to have that new shiny toy but is it really worth it? Not long after the joy it brings will wear off resulting in your wanting a new shiny toy to bring that joy back. See how this turns into a nasty spiraling circle of bad spending habits?

Instead, I propose you do not buy that new shiny toy. It is a temporary band-aid. A distraction to what you really want. Financial freedom.

You should work on paying off that debt you have. My wife and I were very aggressive over the summer to get our car paid off (see how we paid off $7,000 in 3 months). Even though it has been a couple months, I am still finding joy because I now know I never will have that payment again. That liberation never goes away.

6. Monthly Subscriptions

Man, it can be so easy to spend money on these monthly subscriptions that we have available to us now. They are set up by the companies so brilliantly as well. We purchase them, set up the monthly charge, and forget about them.

We spend $198.19 a month on subscriptions.

  • Spotify – $9.99
  • Netflix – $9.99
  • Amazon Prime – $8.25
  • Dollar Shave Club – $3
  • Cell Phone – $116.20
  • Internet – $50.76

Surprisingly, we were able to cut these back by a significant amount. Our cell phone bill was just under $170 a month. The internet bill was just over $100 a month before we cut out the cable and switched to an antenna for the local channels.

Also, since I can barely grow any facial hair, the Dollar Shave Club subscription was cut back to only come every other month.

Keep an eye on these subscriptions as they can easily be forgotten about and turn into bad spending habits. Overall, we have saved about $1,300 a year with our most recent changes.

7. That Fancy Coffee

I do not drink coffee so this one really is not applicable to me. But I do know enough people who spend WAY too much money by stopping by their favorite coffee shop to grab a $10 latte on the way into work every morning.

Even if a person grabs their latte three times a week, that is costing them over $1,500 a year. Just in coffee!

Now my wife loves her coffee and loves that $10 latte but she has made a rule that she cannot get one unless she has a gift certificate. She will ask for a gift certificate to Starbucks for Christmas and her birthday to crave her want. In between those times, she will just brew her own at home every morning.

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8. Shopping Convenience

My wife and I have a rule that if we did not buy it on our weekly grocery trip, then we do not get it until next week. There is one exception to this rule, if the item is an essential ingredient to a recipe then we can go grab that ingredient.

When we do need to run to the store during the week we make sure that we do not shop at a convenience store. We will take the extra few minutes that it takes to drive to a grocery store to grab the item.

Convenience stores up-charge their merchandise because of the convenience it is to shop at them. Shopping here instead of going the extra two minutes out of your way is pure laziness and just throwing money away.

Just stay away from these stores. There is no real reason to shop at them.

9. Buying Unnecessary Items

Don’t get me wrong. I am guilty of this all the time and just recently started to learn how to control the urge to spend because I want that new shiny toy like everyone else has.

We recently just paid off our RAV4 14 months early. Our other car, an Accord, is really beaten up, I mean really beat up. I’m now the guy that no one wants to park next too. Because of this, I had the urge to trade in the Accord for a new 4Runner, which I love.

When those thoughts started running through my head I needed to stop everything and refocus that my wife’s and my next goal is student loans. We could not do that by adding on a $600 monthly car payment.

Plus, even though it looks horrible, the Accord is mechanically sound. There is no reason to get a new car right now.

The next time you want to get that new shiny toy, I suggest you stop everything you are doing and refocus on what your real goals are. Those are what will bring you true happiness in the long run.

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Now Go Break Those Bad Spending Habits

Just like me, I am sure you are a work in progress. It takes a lot of time and effort to break bad habits. I do not expect you to go out and change all of your bad spending habits within 24 hours.

That would just be crazy.

Pick one bad habit and start changing that one first. Then add on another one to change. Keep this positive cycle going until you feel like you have everything under control.

Changing your bad spending habits will get you on the right path to financial freedom.

The PBJ Theory, Please Quit Complaining About Food Budgets

Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

I’m about to save you thousands of dollars.

All the money you spend in your life, or even an average month. Chances are one of your largest expenses is food. It happens, literally to everyone.

Eating Out Is The Worst For Your Wallet

So when people start to track their budgets, they always come to the same conclusion. “I need to quit eating out more”. Get this, the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average according to a 2016 survey conducted by Zagat.

“the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average”

That means the average person spends $54.63 eating out a week or $218.52 a month on just eating out. Unless you earn lots of money, is the obvious answer to eat in?

What About Eating In?

Most people think they can quit going out to start having nice and relaxing meals in. Here’s the thing with eating in, the movies get it wrong.

It’s not always a romantic and soothing experience.

Often times it’s a “Crap, I need to eat. What should I cook?” experience that you pray to the food gods you have the right ingredients in your fridge and dishes are clean.

Let’s face it, we are busy in our lives and don’t have the time to visit the store every day buying new ingredients for a new recipe we found on the internet.

In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, researcher Eddie Yoon over two decades collected data as consultants for consumer packaged goods companies. He found that:

  • 15% of people say they LOVE to cook
  • 50% of people say they HATE to cook
  • 35% of people say they are ambivalent about cooking (mixed feelings)

If you’re one of the people that hate cooking, you should create a meal plan to make it as easy as possible. Plan a week in advance what you’re going to eat for each meal and know how to cook it. This way you’ll have the ingredients and can plan accordingly for time.

However, not all plans work out.

Introduce The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

When meal plans fail, let me introduce Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, otherwise known as a PBJ.

Let me first admit that I have an addiction to commenting on Finance forums, Facebook Groups, and Blogs. The mechanics of building wealth are simple and I’m always happy to remind people that things are often more simple than they appear. Like how I responded this comment and created “The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory”.

I get it, you want to start saving money on food and you’re looking for suggestions from the personal finance community to help.

Answers ranged from getting a crockpot to make meals simple, cooking large meals on Sunday and eating leftovers throughout the week, to buying frozen meals that may not be great for you, but easy to prepare.

All of the responses skirted around the idea that a solid weekly meal plan is the best option to help you save money on food. However, sometimes these meals don’t work out for a number of reasons and one fall off the wagon can end up at the local McDonalds.

So I introduced the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory. The cost-effective, quickest meal ever to keep your budget on track.

This is easily the most actionable thing you can do to start immediately saving on your food budget. In many cases when people eat out, it’s due to convenience because they don’t have anything at home that sounds appealing. That’s when the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory comes in handy.

Stash emergency PB&J supplies in your kitchen. When hungry but have nothing else, eat a PB&J. If you’re not hungry for a PB&J, wait 2 hours until you’re hungry enough to eat a PB&J.

Sometimes a PBJ isn’t exactly what you’re craving and your favorite restaurant sounds better, or your “husband would not be happy about that” (see comment). Well suck it up, you’ll soon be out of debt and you can buy your husband a jet ski. Everyone loves a jet ski.

Try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

If you want to save THOUSANDS on food budgets, you should try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory! Meals cost less than $1 to make, you’ll save time and money. Most importantly, you’ll have a secret stash of PBJs to make when you get those cravings to go out and spend money.

You’re welcome.

Disclaimer: Wallet Squirrel did not invent the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, just an advocate of saving money. Wallet Squirrel was not sponsored by big PBJ corporations to promote their superior and delicious product.

How to Pay Off Your Car Loan Faster – How I paid off $7K in 3 Months

How to Pay Off Your Car Loan Faster – How I paid off $7K in 3 Months

Today it is your turn to learn how to pay off your car loan faster.  Over the last three months (May to August), my wife and I have worked really hard to pay off our car loan.

I can now say, as of the end of August we finally did it! What an amazing feeling it is to free up $405 a month to tackle other debt we have. Ugh….student loans…

We took a multi-faceted approach to tackling this debt so we could start focusing on our combined $90,000 student loan debt.

Where to Start

To start off with how to pay off your car loan faster, you need to create a roadmap. Do not just jump into the process without a plan on how you will tackle debt so aggressively.

This roadmap should look to answer three questions. When? How? What? You should look at when do you want to pay it off by. Then look at how and what you can do that will help pay that car loan off faster.

You will want to make sure that you choose items that are feasible for you to achieve. I want you to be successful to paying off your car loan faster!

It is a good thing I have a list of easy ideas for you to use. Let’s get started!

Refine that Budget

One of the first things we did was take a serious look at our budget to find where we could cut down costs. We decided to cut our weekly grocery bill by 25%. We also cut our entertainment budget along with our utilities.

Take a look at your budget to determine what categories can be trimmed down in costs. Some easy categories to start looking at first are entertainment, eating out, groceries, or utilities. I use Mint to help organize our budget and see where we are actually spending.

One sneaky way we adjusted our budget was during the summer. We were able to temporarily remove our son’s daycare expense. As a teacher, my wife has the summer off so we were able to pull him out of daycare for 10 weeks. This ended up saving us $3,000!

mint can be a great tool to help refine your budget so you can pay off your car loan faster

Cutting Excess Spending

Cutting excess spending goes along the same lines with refining our budget. I look at refining your budget as a high overview and cutting excess spending as working on the nitty-gritty details.

So how did we cut out our excess spending? Easy. Start by looking at each expense you have and ask yourself, “Is this a need or a want?” If it is a need, then keep it. If it is a want, then it needs to be cut out. Do you really need to pick up a pop every day on your way to work (Personal example)? Probably not.

We made the cut with our cable bill. We didn’t need it anymore so I canceled it, just leaving us with our internet. This saved us 50% a month on our cable/internet bill.

Couponing on Necessary Spending

Of course, there are plenty of items that are necessary. These include groceries, cell phone, gas, and so on.

In today’s digital world it is so easy to find coupons to help us save money. I recommend grabbing the Honey extension for your internet browser to help you with necessary online shopping (see review here). Then for in-store shopping, I would download the Ibotta app on your cell phone (see review here).

These apps help my wife and I save money each and every week which in turn can be used to pay off our car loan faster.

use the Ibotta app to pay of your car loan faster

Selling Unnecessary Items

If you read my How to Get Rid of Distractions article, you know I was trying to sell items around the house that I did not need in my life anymore. Well, I did sell most of the items on my list. This money helped us shave off nearly $1,000 from the car loan. Pretty awesome right!?!?

Your assignment is to look at the items you barely use around your house. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this? Does it help me towards my goals or does it distract me from them?” If you do not need the item or it is a distraction, it is time to sell it. You can either sell the item on Craig’s list or eBay to help you earn some extra cash to pay off your car loan faster.

Side Hustling

I could write a whole book about side hustling, in fact, some people have. So this will be a 30,000-foot level overview about earning extra money so you can pay off your car loan faster.

Side hustling consists of extra gigs you do to earn extra money on top of your full-time job. These gigs could be selling photography, driving for Uber, delivering for Amazon, freelance writing, and so on.

I have used any income that has come from Wallet Squirrel or my photography sales to help my wife and I widdle down our car loan.

For more ideas, check out our list of side hustles that Andrew and I have actually tried out.

Remove Temptation

Advertisements are everywhere to tempt us with the latest coolest gadgets for purchase. Giving in to these temptations is a weakness of mine because I am such a materialistic person. So I had to find a way to minimize these temptations so I did not want to go out and buy things I did not need.

For me, the biggest culprit was all of those emails from retailers that I love such as REI. To help reduce these, I started using Unroll.Me to unsubscribe me from all of those pesky emails.

Whatever might be tempting you, try to find a way to remove that trigger to spend excessively.

Staying Focused

The last item on this list is the centerpiece that brings all of this together. You need to stay focused on your final goal.

I like to have my overarching goal written down with every subgoal that is going to get me to the final goal underneath it. Then I look at these goals on a weekly basis deciding on which subgoal I am going to accomplish. It feels so good to check those subgoals off knowing that I am one notch closer to completing that overarching goal.

Now Go Save!

Now it is your turn to go out and save to pay off your car loan faster.

How do you plan on tackling this debt?