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Let’s talk daily spending habits (it might not be pretty)

It’s kinda hard to get ahead when you’re losing $100 on the daily, isn’t it?

Coffee and a toastie here ($16), an Uber Eats two pizza special ($44) with dessert ($18) there…

No, you’re not literally losing money. But it feels that way, doesn’t it? Until a quick panic scroll through your recent transactions uncovers where every dollar you think went missing went.

Coffee, a choccie, a takeaway… they seem like small expenses at the time, even unavoidable ones in today’s busy world. But the truth is, they’re not.

Over time they’re not small, and they are avoidable. Truth sucks, I know.

Little habits = big cost

Have you ever opened your bank account and said, “that can’t be right” only to have to relive every tap-tap-tap of your card?

Relate? Then your coffee, toastie and Uber Eats special is making a huge difference to your ability to reach your financial goals.

In this blog, we’ll show you how to enjoy life’s small pleasures without compromising the big pleasures ahead of you. The ones on your vision board: the overseas adventure, your own home, and debt-free freedom.

1. Card tap number one: coffee

You’re on your way to work, and the warm, delicious smell of roasting coffee beans wafts your way.

$5 a day = $35 a week = a whopping $1,820 a year. Ouch. And that’s if you’re not a multiple coffees a day or ‘coffee and a toastie’ type.

Getting to grips with how much that small daily comfort is costing you over a week, month and year will help you reroute the next time you detour for your oat flat white.

We’d love for you to also think about what drives you to make that daily coffee purchase. Is it because the coffee makes you feel great and awake each morning, or is it more about the comfort created by this habit?

We usually find it’s the latter, so we try to find cost-effective ways of recreating the comfort. E.g. for our daily coffee habits – a cute keep cup that we can take to work brings joy.

So, what if you made yourself a coffee five or even four days out of seven? Hear us out.

Start with an instant coffee if you don’t already have a machine at home (we promise there are some goodies out there). If it doesn’t quite hit the spot, invest in a coffee machine when possible and don’t forget to scour Marketplace for a bargain. Then pour your homebrew into your nice keep cup, and your daily ritual looks and tastes much the same. It might go a bit like this:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: home-brew coffee
Thursday treat day: café coffee
WFH Friday: home-brew coffee
Saturday: café coffee with a friend
Sunday: home-brew and breakfast in bed ????

2. Card tap number two: the toastie

You’re waiting for your coffee when your grumbling stomach spots an avocado and cheese toastie in the cabinet. Your favourite.

A simple toastie or bagel can cost anywhere between $10 all the way up to $16+. Yikes. But so much tastier than the muesli you barely touched at home… and that much more tempting.

Our tip? Put down the Uncle Toby’s and make yourself a breakfast or lunch you’ll actually enjoy. A good loaf of sourdough will cost significantly less than your café toastie, and it’ll feed you for a week.

Tip number two? You don’t have to say goodbye to your café forever. Just turn that breakfast or lunch into something you look forward to once-a-week rather than once-a-day and you’re golden. You might not believe us, but your treat bagel will taste a heck of a lot better than your everyday bagel. Why? Because you’ll know you’ve earnt it, and it won’t have the spending guilt attached.

3. Card tap number three: the 3pm pick-me-up

You’re fuelling up at the station (this one is unavoidable) and when you go to pay a KitKat/Red Bull/Mrs Mac is staring you right in the face (avoidable).

It’s only $4, you say.

$4 a day (you might not fuel up every day, but we bet you can find yourself somewhere convenient at 3pm) is going to cost you almost as much as your daily coffee.

Buy in bulk and make sure you’ve always got a snack handy to avoid the temptation. Paying for something out that you already have at home spoils that ‘feel-good’ factor fast.

When you do buy an extra choccie bar or cold drink on the run, add it to that week’s eating out or “treat” allowance to keep yourself accountable. You’ll be surprised how much it eats into it.

4. Card tap number four: the takeaway & eating out

It’s Friday night and you’re ready to get horizontal on the couch. Who wants to cook? Not us.

With all the service fees, delivery fees and menu mark-ups (yep), even a small Uber Eats-for-one order is costing anywhere between $30-$50. And it’s easy to see why this expense is generally one of the biggest categories people battle with in their budget.

As a one-off and for the convenience of a door dash, it might be worth it.

When it’s becoming less a once in a blue moon and more a weekly/twice weekly/thrice weekly food bill, (in addition to your actual food bill)? That’s an issue and it’s time to pull a “here’s something I prepared earlier” out of the freezer. Homemade spag bol beats lukewarm Uber Eats every time.

We’re not telling you to swear off Uber Eats or eating out forever. We’re just asking you to maybe think twice about whether that order is within your personal comfort zone.

Bonnie’s wrap

Sensing a theme? You guessed it. Reducing spending and actually enjoying your life aren’t mutually exclusive. They just require a bit of thought and some tweaking here and there.

I was a café coffee snob until I realised how much it was costing me – and that I was spending all that money to comfort and convenience than to an actual physical need.

I bought myself a takeaway mug I loved, tried different at home blends until I found the right one, and committed to the change. Now, I enjoy my weekly café coffee that much more.

Here’s how you can change your spending habits:

  1. Figure out how much your little habits are costing you in the long run
  2. Find an equally satisfying alternative
  3. Turn your treats into actual treats

Need some help setting and sticking to your new spending habits? Read this.

Related to: Happy Habits
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