It's the Little Things That Kill: Small Expenses That Add Up Fast
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Everyone is somewhat familiar with the economics of the latte: $5 isn't a lot of money. But $5 a day, every day adds up quickly: "A latte a day is going to cost you over $1,000 per year," explains Renee Harrison, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise. Still, if your only indulgence is a daily latte, you'll probably say to yourself, "I earned it."
The problem is that it's probably not. In fact, you probably have a number of little things that add up quickly -- and are killing your budget.
Beyond the Latte
Harrison calls things like the daily latte "discretionary cash flow raiders."
"If you eat lunch out every day that can easily cost over $150 per month, per person," she explains. It gets worse if you opt for a sit-down restaurant over a fast food joint.
Ellie Kay, America's Family Financial Expert, explains that it's not just about the money that you spend -- it's also the impact on your health. "Pack your lunch the night before and you're set up for success," she says.
Harrison advises one way for couples to save money when they head out: rather than getting an entrée, two appetizers and two desserts, instead get an entrée, appetizer and dessert to split between the two of you, or better yet, have the dessert at home. There's an added health benefit. "Couples who do this find that they don't feel overstuffed after a meal," Harrison said.
Cut the Cable
What's your cable bill? Kay and her family's is zero, instead using Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix at a fraction of the cost. Still, she cautions people against à la carte buying.
"If you're getting Downton Abbey and other shows every week, that's going to add up quickly," she said.
This extends to Redbox. "They're incredibly cheap," she says.
However, if you don't return them on time, that's going to add up quickly.
"You end up paying double than what you thought," she says. If you don't return your Redbox movies on time, your late fees can become your latte -- and without the hot, creamy goodness of the latter.
Are you wasting money at the pump? Probably, and not by opting for gas that costs 10 cents more than the next place, says Harrison. "People run errands in their cars, even if it's just down the block." Rather than this, she advises people plan their routes out before they get in the car. "That way you're not backtracking and doubling your mileage," she says.
The Bottom Line: Seeing Retirement as a Need
Nick Givogri, the director of Merrill Edge in the Orange County market, thinks the fundamental problem is that people don't see retirement as a need.