5 On Your Side

Identifying budget busters

Posted November 20, 2008
Updated November 21, 2008

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— A lot of people have a tough time budgeting. It’s easy to blow thousands – a few budget busting dollars at a time.

Here are some budget busters that many people could trim in their daily lives:

1. Coffee - The average cup of prepared coffee costs $1.38. If you buy one cup every weekday morning, that can add up to $360 per year.

2. Bottled water – Getting bottled water from a vending machine or convenience store will cost at least $1 each time. Drinking one each day adds up to $365 a year.

3. Weekday lunches – Spending $7.50 a day for 260 workdays will add up to $1,900 a year.

4. Vending machine snacks – These cost about $1 each. Buying one snack each workday for 260 days adds up to $260.

5. Manicures – The average manicure costs $20.53. Getting these weekly can add up to more than $1,000 a year.

6. Car washes – The average auto detailing package is $58. Wash your car six times a year and that’s $348.

7. Unused gym memberships – With monthly service fees at around $40, not using it wastes $480 a year.

8. Credit card interest charges – With the average credit card debt at $8,650 for low and middle income households and the average interest rate at 13 percent, paying the minimum payment would take 17-and-a-half years to pay off the debt and cost almost $4,800 in interest.

The total for these budget busters is more than $9,500 a year.

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  • jsanders Nov 21, 2008

    "A lot of people have a tough time budgeting. It’s easy to blow thousands – a few budget busting dollars at a time."

    True. But SOME people are legislators, and when they bust the budget, as they always do in NC, they get to bust other people's budgets to make up for their mistakes:
    http://www.johnlocke.org/policy_reports/display_story.html?id=75

  • Snakebite Survivor Nov 21, 2008

    These are all excellent suggestions, and I hate to quibble, but there's an error in the arithmetic. In item 8. the $4800 savings is over a 17 year period, not per year. The interest savings in the first year would be less than $1200. So the total savings per year would be about $6000, not $9500.