How many times have you assumed you had money in the bank, only to find that most of it has trickled away, thanks to monthly subscriptions, pricey indulgences and mindless spending on guilty pleasures?
If you’re like many people, it’s easy to lose track of everyday and monthly spending. But paying attention to bank account-draining expenses and fees can help you save money to put towards emergency savings, retirement, vacations, large purchases and milestones like buying a house or starting a family.
Curious about where all your money is going each month? Check out these guilty pleasures that could be the culprits behind your dwindling bank account.
1. Convenience store purchases
The average profit margin for most grocery stores is only around 2.2%, according to retail software provider POS Nation. Meanwhile, for convenience stores, average profit margins are more than double that, according to financial projections website ProjectionHub.
So, if you’re stopping by convenience stores regularly for snacks, drinks and other foods, that indulgence is draining your bank account on a daily basis. The same goes for convenience store pet food, cosmetics and other items you could buy at the grocery store for far less.
To fix this daily drain, stock up at the grocery store on snacks, drinks, toiletries and other items instead.
You may love to soak in a warm bath and let your troubles melt away. But did you know that taking luxurious baths on a regular basis racks up a hefty water bill?
A “full tub” (which varies, according to bather preferences) uses an average of 36 gallons of water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a government scientific research agency. A shower uses only around 5 gallons a minute, and a low-flow shower head uses about 2 gallons a minute.
If you love baths, you don’t have to deprive yourself completely, though. Take a warm bath occasionally or soak in the hot tub at your gym for a bath fix.
3. Online impulse purchases
Shopping online out of boredom, curiosity or because that’s how you deal with your emotions can be a costly drain on your bank account when it comes to paying debit card or credit card charges, especially when you add credit card interest charges if you carry a balance.
Next time you get the urge to impulsively purchase an item online, wait a day before you hit “go to checkout.” Chances are, the mood will pass, and you’ll keep that money in your bank account instead of spending it on items you don’t need.
4. Food or grocery delivery
Have you continued with the food or grocery delivery habit you picked up during the coronavirus pandemic? If so, you’re probably spending big bucks on fees and tips for Shipt, Door Dash, Uber Eats and other grocery delivery services.
Food delivery fees at popular services range from $2 to $10, plus any additional costs and a tip, according to Food Delivery Guru. Some restaurants also mark up food prices for delivery, making the total cost as much as up to 91% higher, according to The New York Times.
To save on delivery fees, shop at the grocery store or pick up groceries with curbside service. Go old-school and drive your car to pick up takeout at a nearby restaurant.
5. Phone app subscriptions
Nobody wants to listen to veggies chatting it up in an Aldi ad while they’re getting their groove on with a music streaming app. So, paying $10 a month for an ad-free subscription could be well worth the cost.
Add several phone app subscription services, however, and you could spend $20 to $40 in subscription fees each month. That may not seem like much, but the annual cost of $240 to $480 adds up.
6. Lottery tickets
If you’re hoping to quit your job and/or fund your retirement with lottery winnings, your chances of striking it rich are virtually nonexistent. For example, the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 303 million. Odds for the $1 million Mega Millions prize are 1 in 13 million.
Still, lottery ticket buyers shell out on average around $70 a month, with people ages 65 to 74 spending an average of more than $130 a month, according to a 2019 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s money you could spend on groceries, gas, vacations and more. So scratch the lottery ticket habit and put that money in savings or invest it in a 401(k), IRA or another retirement account instead.
7. Spontaneous errand-running
With national gas prices averaging around $3.40 per gallon as of early November 2023 according to Gas Buddy, hopping in the car to run every errand separately can ratchet up monthly gas expenses fast. To save money on this gas-guzzling expense, schedule several errands in one trip instead.