In a recent article on Vox, personal finance blogger “Mr. Money Mustache” was asked what he thought was the most common finance mistake people make. His response: “taking a very short-term view on money and life.”
In other words, people often look at spending $10 a week only as spending $10 a week: they don’t consider that equals $520 a year or $2,600 over five years.
Previously, we wrote about monitoring your expenses to see where all your money goes. Let’s go a step further. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that the cost of your expenses will remain the same for the next five years. How much would these expenses cost you over that time? Let’s take a look at some common expenses and their average costs as examples.
Cable: According to Time.com, the average cable bill is projected to be $123 a month in 2015. That’s $1,476 a year and $7,380 in five years.
Coffee: USA Today reports Americans spend $21 a week on coffee, or $1,092 a year and $5,460 in five years.
Dining out: The average American spends $232 a month dining out, per The Simple Dollar. That comes out to $2,784 a year and $13,920 after five years.
Gym membership: $58 a month according to Statistic Brain, or $696 a year and $3,480 for five years.
In total, these expenses cost $6,048 a year and $30,240 over five years.
The type and cost of your expenses may differ but the fact remains the same: these expenses add up to a significant amount of money over time. Even if trimming your expenses only saved half that amount, you would save over $15,000 in five years. That could go a long way towards paying off debts, building an emergency fund, or investing for retirement.
The purpose of this exercise isn’t to convince you to never spend money on things you don’t need. Rather, it’s to give you a bigger perspective of how your financial decisions affect your long-term financial situation. As you can see, opting for a cheaper cable package or making coffee at home instead of buying a cup every morning can save you a lot of money over time.
Try looking at your finances in terms of years, not just days or weeks. This can help you make better decisions when it comes to spending, saving, and investing.
Covenant Trust Company is a financial services company owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and its affiliates. Our services are available to anyone in need of asset management, retirement planning, legacy planning, gift planning, or trust services. In addition, we seek opportunities to encourage and promote healthy financial habits, and keep a personal finance blog at www.covtrustblog.com.