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12 Surprisingly Expensive Habits to Quit

A. Oliver -- Student. Professional. Homemaker. Retiree. Who hasn't paid too much or made other financial faux pas at some point? Here are 12 practical, practicable, proactive steps to help those serious about shaving off everyday expenses that can add up.

Maintaining a lavish lifestyle is something that most of us would enjoy doing if we had the finances to accommodate that. But when you have been victimized by the recession we are still recovering from, this is a dream or fantasy at best. More people than ever before are having difficulty making financial ends meet and are living paycheck to paycheck. In all fairness, none of us are perfect when it comes to developing a household budget and sticking to it. We all make mistakes from time to time. Unfortunately, the mistakes can be very costly.

However, for the sake of this discussion, how many times have you forgotten to pay one of your bills, kept paying for a fitness center or gym membership that you rarely use, or let healthy foods go to waste in your refrigerator? If any of these financial faux pas' sound familiar, then you have some very expensive habits that you need to break. It's probably time for you to sit down and conduct an honest self-evaluation. It may be a difficult pill to swallow, but you will probably find all the places that you need to make changes in your lifestyle.

We all can find some surprisingly expensive habits that we need to quit and get our finances in order. Here are 12 of them.

1. Coffee shops--if you stop and get a $5 cup of Starbuck's coffee 5 days a week, you could save $1,300 a year by breaking that habit. It's far cheaper to just make coffee at home. It's an expensive status symbol that is completely unnecessary. If that concerned about how you will look to those other coffee aficionados, save your Starbuck's cups and fill them at home.
Solution: Make your own coffee at home and save over $1,000 a year.

2. Dining out--this is one of the harder and more expensive habits to break. It's far easier to eat out than getting in the kitchen, prepping and cooking the evening meal, and then dealing with the clean-up afterwards. It's also easy to destroy your monthly budget with this habit.
Solution: Prepare several meals in advance and then freeze them. Also, take your lunch to work and stop eating fast food every day.

3. Drinking at a bar or lounge--everyone gets a little stressed at work from time to time and feels the need to visit their favorite watering hole to have a drink (or two) and relax. Granted, you can meet up with friends and enjoy a little down time, but the price of your drinks can build up pretty quickly and cut into your budget.
Solution: Either visit the bar or cocktail lounge during Happy Hour to save a few bucks. Better yet, learn how to mix your own drinks at home and save money in the process.

4. Facial treatments--just like with manicures and pedicures (see below), this is one of those costly luxuries that you can do without. Day spas and salons get quite a price for these treatments, so it's time you considered some alternative methods for achieving that fresh, polished feeling.
Solution: Practice doing your own facemasks. It's just as effective and far less expensive.

5. Going out to the movies--spending a night out at the theater is a great form of entertainment but it's also an expensive one. Not to mention the cost of your drinks, popcorn, and other snacks. For a couple or a family of 4, this can get pretty costly. Granted, there are discount theaters, but you still have to contend with the high price of beverages and snacks.
Solution: Have a movie night at home. Order your favorite pizza and rent a DVD to watch instead. It's just as entertaining as going to the theater and costs a lot less.

6. Gym memberships--granted, we would all like to get into shape, but what is the point in paying for the use of a fitness center or gym if you are not using it? Whether you go workout on a regular basis or not, you still have to pay those monthly use fees. The bottom line is that unless you are diligent about using that membership then cancel it.
Solution: Start working out at home.

7. Hoarding those accumulated airline miles and not using them--you can also apply this tip to rewards credit cards as well. Those airline miles and reward points are like having cold, hard cash in your wallet and letting it go to waste when they could benefit you by using them.
Solution: Spend some time researching the ones you have online and refresh your memory about how these work. You may have a FREE flight to Puerto Rico or a steak dinner at a high-end restaurant waiting for you.

8. Letting vegetables and other sensitive foods go bad in your fridge--wasting food is not only an expensive habit, there are a lot of hungry individuals that could benefit from having what you let go to waste. Think about the times you have over-bought at the grocery store and then wound up throwing spoiled food into the trash.
Solution: Be realistic about the amount of fresh fruits and veggies you and your family would eat in a week's time. Making up a menu will help you save money and not waste food.

9. Manicures and pedicures--although this one targets the female audience, it is still a costly habit that you might want to consider quitting. Manicuring and pedicuring are relatively simple and cheap to perform, yet salons charge exorbitant prices for these specialties. You may think of this as a pampering treat, but it's too costly.
Solution: Learn how to do this yourself and try some DIY nail art instead.

10. Purchasing name brands--we all buy certain foods because of their trusted brand names. But most of the major grocery stores have a version of these big name brands packaged under their own label. In most cases, you can't tell the difference between the major name brands and their cheaper, in-store counterparts.
Solution: When you go grocery shopping the next time, allow yourself some extra time to compare the labels of the in-store brands to the name brands and read the ingredients. You'll be surprised at how much they are alike.

11. "Retail therapy sessions"--going shopping to relieve depression or stress is very common. In some cases it may be helpful and make you feel better or relax you. Just keep in mind that this type of "therapy" comes with a high price tag attached to it. When your credit card payment comes due, it will add to the level of anxiety you are already experiencing.
Solution: Forget about the fashion fads and purchase only what you need when it is absolutely necessary. Try shopping at the dollar stores or thrift stores for a change.

12. Your vehicle--there's your monthly car and insurance payments, but it doesn't end there. The cost of fuel is enough to drive you crazy. Putting it simply, owning and operating your vehicle every day of the week gets pretty expensive. Solution: Car pool once in a while or use the public transportation system to save some money.

Ajax's mission is to help 1,000,000 people create a harmonic relationship with money by eliminating the stress, doubt & insecurities we feel about money, as well as mastering the making of this shiny, green gold. For more, visit

© 2015 Ajax Oliver

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