Hindsight is a real pain the bum. As I get older, I start to realise the countless money mistakes I have made that have inevitably affected my net worth significantly.
I don’t mean to dwell on the past, but can you imagine how much money you would have saved if 15 years ago you decided ‘I will never spend a dollar on bottled water’ or some other item?
The savings would be massive. The money would be compounded over 15 years in your savings account or other worthwhile investment. A dollar saved 10 years ago is probably worth much more than $1 today.
This got me thinking about the ways I notoriously wasted my money in the past. Things that cost me a bomb in the long run but I was oblivious too at the time.
So with that, I put to you – imagine if you never spent a single dollar on:
I was going to say ‘imagine all the money you would save by never spending a dollar on alcohol’ and then I laughed and realised how ridiculous that is given that we a) live in Australia and b) doesn’t really adhere to the ‘everything in moderation’ rule.
Instead imagine if you never spent your money on overpriced alcohol, aka pubs and clubs that charge over $10 for a beer? Imagine if instead you always drank at home with your friends and family. You would probably have more fun and pay 1/8th the price per drink.
Some will argue you will miss out on a whole heap of fun and games by not being at the pub. This may be true, but as I get older, I start to realise how much more fun you have when entertaining at home. Your own surrounding, you control the guest list, punch ups are rare (unless Uncle Mick has a few too many Irish Whiskeys on Christmas day).
Considering the average drinker will spend around $100 on a night out, imagine how much money you would save by simply opting to drive at home for the rest of your life? A beer at the pub costs $8, a beer at home $1.50.
Eating while intoxicated
Following on from the previous point, imagine if you never spent money on late night boozy food? You know the late night/early morning Maccas binge or chilli Kebab (that pays dividends in that it hurts you in the morning).
We pay a premium for food while out on the town. These purchases add up as they almost always accompany a night out with friends.
Instead of eating fast food after a night out, perhaps your body and wallet would be thankful for Vegemite toast at home instead? Every boozy meal costs around $10 (think a pie, sauce and drink) – over a lifetime that is heaps of money.
Bottled water or other drinks
Sometimes I buy a soft drink simply because I want to get away from my desk (at work) or because I am chatting with someone. Other times I buy a water because I think ‘I’m thirsty now’ and forget that in 5 minutes time, I will have access to free water at home or elsewhere.
Imagine if you never spent $3-$5 on a bottle of water in your life? I would say I have probably purchased 1000’s of drinks, if not 10’s of thousands in my life so far. My back of the envelope maths would state I have probably spent over $50,000 on drinks like this (thanks Diet Coke addiction).
Taxis home instead of a train or bus
Imagine never taking a taxi, instead opting for the bus/train no matter what the time or how you feel? I once had the option of a $4 train ride home with a long walk or a $75 taxi fare that delivered me to the doorstep. After a night out, I nearly always took the $75 option.
I would say I did this (plus other scenarios of using cabs unnecessarily) many many times. At least 50 times I could have avoided this. Once again, another waste of money and imagine if only I wasn’t so lazy and opted for public transport instead?
“Happy birthday! Here are some flowers that will die in 5 days time”. As a man, I will never understand flowers. The thought may count, but so do presents that don’t perish in 5 days and have a 1000% markup.
Imagine if you never spent money on flowers and instead used the cash to buy something nice for that special someone or better yet, give them money instead to do something useful.
Thank you cards and birthday cards
Similar to flowers, why do we spend hard earned money on a paper card that costs $6.95 for every birthday, occasion or celebration? Wouldn’t a heartfelt letter or self made card with kind words be better?
At nearly $7 a pop (sometimes more) when a family of 5 buys a card for each other for every event, it probably means they spend $500 on cards a year. Birthdays, Christmas, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, multiple cards from multiple people on the same day etc.
Gambling, scratchies and lotto tickets
How many times have you won the lottery? I can probably guess your answer, however we still continue to remain hopefully? Given that most scratchies and lotto tickets have a 1 in 85 million chance of winning (often at best) – why do we continue to ‘invest’ money into these things?
Some may argue it is a bit of fun for them. For me however, a bit of fun would come from thinking how much money I would now have if I never put a $1 into a pokie, scratchie or lottery ticket.
Save your money, the odds are terrible and regardless of whether you believe you need to be ‘in it to win it’ – just save the money instead.
Replacing things that didn’t need replacing
Imagine if you never spent money on things that still technically do their job perfectly fine? For me this came to light when I purchased a new flat screen TV for my Father in law to replace a perfectly functioning telly in their back room that was still full of life, albeit a little small.
Imagine if I didn’t outlay that $350? Was it a complete waste? Yes it was Christmas, but it still doesn’t seem right to me that we have such materialistic waste because of a holiday season.
This applies to things like cars also; how many people do you know that simply upgrade cars because they want a new car? The old one was likely cheaper and still worked fine, yet we convince ourselves to spend money on things we already have.
Magazines aka ‘micro entertainment’
I am guilty of this one. I think I spend money when I am bored to simply alleviate my boredom. I might get up from my desk, go for a walk and buy some gum or a can of coke. These are only micro sized purchased yet are costing me $2-$5 a pop and I do them often.
Imagine if I never purchased gum, bottled water, magazines or applications from iTunes that I didn’t need. These items give short term micro entertainment but really do eat into the budget.
From now on I am resisting micro purchases and opting instead to save money.
Tell me what you wish you never spent a dollar on?
In the comments below.