Amass $70,000 By Changing One Lifestyle Habit

By on Apr 4, 2013 in Budget, Investing, Money Management, Saving | 12 comments

Excerpt from How to Get Rich, by Barbara Friedberg

Small Money Changes Lead to Big Money Rewards

“As a volunteer tax preparer for lower income folks, I was amazed at the frequency during which the clients came in with a convenience store snack; small pack of cheese crackers, a soda, a candy bar, or another quick item. In contrast, before my three hour shift, I packed a drink and snack for myself at home and brought it with me.

Now, I’m not saying this to gloat, but to inform that the money lost is substantial by buying snacks out instead of bringing from home. Slap together a few bad money habits; smoking, buying lunch out, playing the lottery and you’ve needlessly spent thousands of dollars over the years.

don't waste money

Look at the daily cost of convenience store snacks:

Coffee from a shop: $2.00
Sweet roll: $2.00
Pack of crackers and cheese: $1.25
Soda: $1.70

Total: $6.95

Compare that with snacks brought from home:

Coffee: $.50
Cereal or donut: $.75
A few crackers with some peanut butter or cheese on them: $.75
Soda (can from home): $.25

Total: $2.25

Swap out store bought with snacks from home and you $4.70 per day.

How $4.70 Savings Turns Into $70,307

Multiply $4.70 by 365 days and that’s $1,715 wasted in a year. Invest the $1,715 each year in a stock mutual fund averaging 7 percent return per year. At the end of 20 years, the $1,715 annual investment is worth $70,307.

Is it worth planning and spending a few minutes each day to pack some snacks and a lunch, in order to invest for the future?

What’s the Money Saving Plan?

Stock up on low cost snacks at the grocery and leave them in the car or at work. We leave a flat of waters and coke in the car so we don’t have to pay $2.00 for a can of soda. If you think it takes too much work and planning, ask yourself if doing a bit of planning is worth $70,307. In The Difference, Jean Chatzky found that 55 percent of the self-made rich attributed habitual saving to their financial success.”

Saving Builds Wealth-How to Turn Small Change into Big Bucks

It’s possible to get rich on an average salary. Start small and make a change for a few days. Go to Wal-Mart and stock up on the snacks you typically buy when you’re out. Leave the snacks in the car. Instead of hitting the snack shop near work, take a soda or granola bar from the car. Make coffee at home and bring a thermos full to work. If you must buy coffee out occasionally, get it at McDonald’s for a buck instead of a pricey coffee shop.

Next, you have to make sure that savings goes into the investment account. If you do not already have an account at a discount broker, open one up at Charles Schwab.com. They have low minimums for initial account set up. Set up an automatic transfer of $140 per month from your bank account into the investment account. Direct the investment company (by phone or online) to invest those funds each month into a diversified stock index fund.

That’s it, you’re done. Continue the fund transfer and investing through market ups and downs and do not touch the funds. Over time, if history is any guide, your funds will multiply.

Caveat; Please consult your own financial adviser before making any investment decisions. This article is for information only and not designed as a recommendation to buy any specific financial products. Charles Schwab is a good discount broker for those with a small amount of cash. If you can meet higher minimum cash requirements, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, or most of the discount brokers will get you started investing just fine.

Get more wealth building strategies in  How to Get Rich, by Barbara Friedberg

Do you frequently buy snacks while out and about? Have you ever tried to cut back and bring lunches and snacks from home?

    12 Comments

  1. I’m a snacker, and I’ve taken to running over to Walgreen’s once every few weeks, and I can get a few weeks worth of snack items for $5, where buying that out of the vending machine would cost 5-10 times that.

    Money Beagle

    April 4, 2013

  2. We took a trip a week ago by train from Mendota, IL to Flagstaff, AZ for spring break with our 3 kids. We went to the grocery store before we left and packed 2 insulated totes with snacks, drinks, and sandwiches for dinner our first night. It was a huge savings money-wise. Our trip home we weren’t able to shop ahead of time. The prices of snacks about killed us. Great observation and good tip to make sure that savings goes into an account and doesn’t get squandered on something else!

    Heather Stephens

    April 4, 2013

  3. Coffee, donuts and snacks are a big one for me. When spending $1 here and there, it really doesn’t seem like much, especially during the course of a day. But you are absolutely right about how that cost can add up quickly. Some of my friends buy Starbucks coffees daily at a costs of close $3-$5 daily. yikes! Barb, great article and thanks for the reminder about our spending habits. -James.

    James McKinnell

    April 4, 2013

  4. Very good advice! I started bringing lunch 40+ years ago just to save a about a $100 per month. It is less expensive and healthier. When I used to spend cash, I would throw my change into a jar. Each month, I accumulated $35-40 in change. We take this for granted and tend to spend anyway, it adds up to real dollars.

    krantcents

    April 4, 2013

  5. I cook most things from scratch and take snacks when we go out. It makes me realize how much convenience food costs since I am used to considering the price of a home made meal/snack.

    Pauline

    April 4, 2013

  6. @Money-Very planful!!! Now… are you taking the savings and sticking it in your investment account? :)
    @Heather-What a fun vacation idea!! Look on the bright side, you did great for part of your trip, thereby cutting your total potential food costs. Great job!

    Barb

    April 4, 2013

  7. @James-I think lots of people do not even think or question these daily expenditures and how they add up. I treat myself to Starbucks occasionally and am shocked when people stop in with their kids after school and drop $15 on coffee! Yikes!
    @Krantc-I love the idea of taking the savings and designating it to a separate “jar”. That way you can make a conscious decision to divert it to savings/investing.
    @Pauline- I bet your snacks are healthier as well! An added benefit.

    Barb

    April 4, 2013

  8. These are really good tips for cutting expenses. Those of you who are interested in the deeper, more psychological level of the spending/saving issue might want to check out my column on The Psychology of Money and Happiness. The column is about this: No matter how shrewd we are about money management, serious efforts to restore financial health usually require us to reduce our consuming, and rather than being miserable about that, we can use psychological strategies to get more happiness from less stuff. Check it out!

    http://www.quizzle.com/blog/category/GoodCents

    Dr. GoodCents

    Jeremy Shapiro

    April 5, 2013

  9. @Marie, If you don’t watch out, it’s easy to fritter away the money you save on something else:)
    @Dr. Jeremy- Our minds tend to be the worst culprits in stupid spending. If we can recognize our cognitive errors and the consequences of our spending, we can certainly become wealthier.

    Barbara Friedberg

    April 5, 2013

  10. Great advice and it appears obvious. It never fails – the most obvious ways to save are also the most difficult to implement because it is hard to see the impact a few dollars here and there can have on the big picture.

    Timothy Mobley

    April 8, 2013

  11. @Jeremy & Tim- That is why I’m so insistent about laying out the benefits of long term investing, even with small amounts, it adds up.

    Barb

    April 8, 2013

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