How many of you went to the gym this week? If you’re a regular gym-goer, then you probably saw a lot of unfamiliar faces. People who joined a gym with grand plans of getting back those washboard abs have already made their first financial mistake of the new year.
1. Don’t join a gym unless you’re serious
Gyms sell memberships with the expectation that less than 20% of members will exercise on a consistent basis. According to statisticbrain.com, the average gym membership costs $55 per month.
Trying to get in better shape is a noble goal, but maybe joining a fancy gym isn’t the answer. Try running outside or buying some weights for use at home before committing to an annual contract. If you do need to join a gym, then at the very least try to find a local gym that allows you to cancel if those abs aren’t coming in.
It’s not only gyms. Many of us have other unused memberships or subscriptions that we waste money on. Re-evauluate your monthly costs and only keep what you actually use on a consistent basis.
2. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!
The average consumer spends more than $20 per week, or $1,092 annually on coffee, according to a workonomix survey. The younger generations are spending significantly more than their parents, which is a good sign if you’re Starbucks.
A new Keurig might not be cheap, but brewing coffee at home will save you hundreds over the course of the year.
3. Improve your cooking skills
Dining out can be a nice break from cleaning dishes after a long day, but not going out just a couple nights a month can make a difference.
Drinking a couple beers at home rather than at a bar can also save you significant money over the long run. The average consumer spends $1,270 annually on beer. Cutting down on the amount you drink is all well and good, but having a beer at home instead of at a bar may be the easier commitment.
4. Get rid of cable
You might think you need cable for your own entertainment, or maybe for the entertainment of your family. Truth is, you can watch more and more shows on Netflix and Amazon video for a fraction of the cost, which was detailed in Why Service Bundling is a Thing of the Past.
5. Design a budget
This may be last on the list, but it is probably the most important for sound financial health. Not having a plan for your money is like coaching a football game without calling a single play. It leads to chaos and bad decision making. A gameplay for your money is the first step to being financially comfortable. You don’t need to detail how you will spend every penny for the upcoming month, but a general idea of how much money you can afford to spend and how much you want to save will help cut out the wasteful spending habits.
Websites like Mint.com make it easier then ever to track your spending and create a customized budget. After using Mint for a couple of months, you can see for yourself just how much you are spending on coffee and food.
This list is obviously easier said than done, just like committing to a workout schedule, but the rewards are well worth it. Make this the year you get back in shape financially. Free yourself from debt and keep more of that paycheck to do the things you really enjoy.