I Spent How Much?

So today I woke up at 5 AM to go drive to Portland for a TV interview. Immediately after I was done, I decided to go grab a much needed cup of coffee and something to eat as well. I ended up spending almost six dollars. I hung around Portland for a little while and then started my trek back to Bangor, but alas, I was tired once again and found the need to grab another coffee. This time I bought a cookie as well. I spent somewhere around four dollars. Now, I don’t generally have anymore than one “cup of joe” per day, but today was different. While I’m used to spending two or three dollars for a cup of coffee, today I spent over 10 dollars just for caffeine. It led me to think about how the little purchases throughout the week are often times the killers.

Do you have that problem? Are you like me and have certain obsessions that take your hard earned money? I know for me, I spend more money on coffee than nearly anything else I buy. Rent and my college loans come first, but coffee and caffeine are definitely right there close behind. I realize not everyone is a coffee lover like I am, but I can assure you that nearly everyone has that one thing that slowly eats away at their funds. Excessive spending can come in many shapes and sizes whether it’s food and drink, clothing, music or any other “cheap” purchase. Unfortunately, it’s often times the cheap purchases that turn out to be the most expensive. Case in point: I determined how much I spend a year on coffee. It rounded out to around $1200.
Great Grandmother's spatula...That's how much I spent on my last car!

Why do we spend so much money on things we don’t actually need? I could make a pretty good argument about why I need coffee, but there are definitely cheaper ways to get my caffeine fix. I’ll admit it. I have a coffee maker and a latte maker in my apartment. Heck, I even roast my own coffee beans so I can have the freshest coffee possible, yet I still spend a ton of money each week in coffee shops. Do you have this problem as well? Try this. If you’re an iced coffee fan like I am, brew the coffee the night before so it has time to cool down. When you wake up, you’ll have a whole batch of coffee ready to go. All you need to do is add ice and the desired extras (milk, cream, sugar, etc) and you just saved yourself three dollars. Want a cookie with it? Buy pre made dough and bake them instead of buying a cookie at a dollar or more a piece. Pre made cookie dough normally runs anywhere around three to five bucks. I love cookies with my coffee...then again, I love anything with chocolate. By simply brewing coffee before hand, you can save money, and skip that trip to the coffee shop.

Maybe you just love to buy clothes. Are you a clothing addict? Are you someone who cannot go to the mall without stopping and buying a new outfit? Well, those new outfits add up over time. I don’t buy clothes very often, but I can understand why you would want to. Stores draw people in with their flashy advertisements and media. Many companies use celebrities to model their clothing, which adds to the excitement. Sure, it may be a pricey pair of pants, but if it makes you look like a Hollywood star, it’s worth it...right? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying stop buying clothes and wear the same clothing the rest of your life. The reality is, new clothing is a necessity in many cases. If you feel like you need a new outfit, try this. Go to a department store first, before going to a name brand store. Generally speaking, department stores have better prices on clothing. Can’t find clothes to your liking there? Visit the name brand store and see what you like. If it’s full priced, come back in a few weeks. Chances are, that same pair of pants or shirt (or both) will be sold at a cheaper price. I’ve also found that going shopping on or near holidays will bring out some of the best deals in the store. It doesn’t just have to be Christmas time or Black Friday either. Many stores drop their prices for nearly any holiday whether it’s Labor Day, Memorial Day or anything in between. Bring your old clothes in to a second hand store. If you look hard enough, you can find places that will buy your old clothing off from you. Then use that money to help fund that new outfit. Patience is a virtue, and if you can be patient in your clothing purchases, you can reap the benefits and still look stylish.

It all boils down to this. We need to separate our needs from our wants. Do I really need coffee? Well, I need caffeine because I am addicted, but do I need to spent six dollars a day on it? Absolutely not. Do you really need to buy $60 shirts when they first hit the floor? That’s also doubtful. Taking small steps towards saving money can be easy without having to compromise. These are just two ways our generation tends to spend money. Check out this great article that talks about other ways money is spent and how to avoid excessive spending. I’ll do my part and try to brew my own coffee more regularly.

Who’s with me?
Seth P.