It’s week 3 for me here on the SALT Blog, and things still haven’t gotten old! In fact, I’d say my work here has actually caused me to take on some new life perspectives, especially in regards to my finances.
Using SALT to see the total amount of loans that I’ll have after graduation was my big “aha” moment. I’ve started seeing dollars in everything, from the big expenses like my car all the way down to the Special K bars I buy at lunch for $1. Although I’m not creating a detailed financial plan for myself (I don’t have the time, drive, or mathematical aptitude for that), I’ve gotten a lot better at saving just by using my common sense.
By eliminating the small expenses in my life, I’m saving a ton of money! Thanks to the infinite wisdom of Ryan (EDITOR’S NOTE: It only took three drafts to get him to include this), I’ve learned that this technique has a name: the Latte Factor. As it applies to me though, it might as well be called the Tea Factor (copyright pending).
I can’t stand caffeine in high doses, so I’ve never been a big coffee drinker. However, I guzzle tea like it’s my job, especially Dunkin’ Donuts iced tea.
For the past 3 weeks, I’ve been grabbing a medium iced tea before work starts every morning. I work 3 days a week on site, and one iced tea costs about $2 after taxes. Not in the mood for math? No worries, I’ll do it for you (can’t believe I just said that).
- $2 a day, 3 days a week, becomes $6 a week.
- $6 a week becomes $24 a month.
- $24 a month becomes $288 a year!
Sure, it takes a year to all add up, but do you know what I can buy with $288? Two new tattoos, a car insurance payment, half of my books for a semester, or Christmas gifts for my family of four. Needless to say, I am officially a recovering iced tea addict.
THE (UTILITARIAN) POINT
The point here is that by eliminating a habit I wouldn’t even have thought twice about a month ago, I saved myself some cash, which brings me closer to knocking out that “big” number. The Tea Factor all boils down to utility (aka happiness) in the end.
I’m not saying you should stop spending money on things that you like. I’m saying that by using your common sense and eliminating some of the smaller, frivolous expenses, you can save money and spend it on things that are actually important. How much utility do I get out of an iced tea? Not a whole lot. A new tattoo? I’m already smiling just thinking about it.
It’s an easy trade-off; you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that. And even when you’re spending, there’s room to be smart. Remember how I said I could get two tattoos? Well, I’m settling with one and stashing the rest away for a rainy day. Or a snowy one, if I can hold out until Christmas.
Have you eliminated a small expense that added up in the long run? Share it in the comments.
(Photo: Flickr/Phillip Choi)