These everyday spending habits could be the reason you’re broke most of the time.

3 minute read

Wondering where all your money goes and why your bank account usually dries up before the next payday? You could be frittering your money away on mindless daily spending. Even if you think you’re only spending $2 here or $20 there, those small purchases all add up to one big spending total before you know it.

But what if you could tweak your spending habits slightly to free up hundreds of dollars a month? You may even be able to save $100 as soon as next week with a few spending adjustments.

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1. Dining out

Everybody loves to go out to eat with friends or sit down with a meal delivered to your door after a hard day’s work. But spending money on restaurants can blow through hundreds of dollars each month. Let’s say you spend $10 to $15 a day on lunch during the workweek. Right off the bat, that’s $200 to $300 on restaurants each month. And if you go out to eat or order takeout for dinner, even just three times a week at $20 to $30 a pop, that’s another $240 to $360 a month.

Sure, you can get hardcore and cut out all dining by making your own meals and taking lunch to work to save money. But you could instead cut back and still save at least a couple hundred dollars a month. For example, take lunch to work three times a week and only go out to lunch twice. Forgo takeout most nights, but give yourself a takeout treat one or two nights a week.

Find out: 6 Easy Ways to Track Your Spending Habits

2. ATM fees

You may love to swing by the nearest ATM to withdraw money from your bank account, but that convenience comes at a price. The average ATM transaction fee was $4.64 in 2020, according to personal finance site Bankrate. Even if you only grab ATM money from a bank where you don’t have an account twice a week, that’s still around $40 a month – nearly $500 – a year spent on ATM fees.

Fortunately, this is an easy spending habit fix. Budget how much cash you think you’ll need as the week begins and withdraw that amount from your bank’s ATM to avoid paying fees.

Find out: 8 Things You Need to Know About Credit Card Cash Advances

3. Convenience stores

You’ll nearly always pay a lot more for items you buy at a convenience store. So, when you stop by the nearest 7-Eleven every day on your way to the office for a couple of donuts, coffee, juice or soda and a mid-afternoon snack, you’re likely spending from $100 to $200 a month for convenience.

But it’s easy to tweak this spending habit and still enjoy life. Buy your pastries, soda and snacks in bulk at the grocery store instead. Then raid your stash before heading to work.

Find out: 9 Things You Should Never Buy at a Convenience Store

4. Vending machines

Slipping bills into the office vending machine for snacks may be a comforting ritual. However, it’s not so comforting when you add up how much you spend every month. Even if you spend $4 dollars a day, that’s about $80 a month. And what about those days when your mean boss is on your case? That could lead to extra Snickers Bars, bumping this expense up even higher.

Stock up on snacks, soda and bottled water at a dollar store instead. Then keep those items at the office for easy access to avoid hitting the vending machine.

Find out: 11 Easy Foods You can Take to Work to Save Money on Food

5. Random errands

You may not give a thought to driving to the drug store in the morning, the grocery store in the afternoon and a local park for an evening walk. All those excursions can drain your gas tank faster than if you planned your errands strategically.

If you have to drive multiple places, plan to hit them all in one run if you can. You may save yourself an extra trip to the gas station, along with an additional $30 $50 on gas.

6. Frequent grocery runs

One way to blow through money fast is by making multiple stops for milk, frozen foods, snacks,  produce and other items at the grocery store each week because you didn’t create a shopping list when you did your weekly shopping.

To eliminate this spending habit, which can add up to spending at least $100 a month (probably more), sit down with the grocery store weekly ad and make a grocery list before you shop. The key is to plan your meals for the week before you shop so you can use certain items in more than one meal.

For example, if you buy a bag of frozen chicken breasts, you can use the poultry in multiple ways such as in  a main dish, chicken salad or added to a lettuce salad, stir-fry, tacos or enchiladas or another favorite chicken dish.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC