“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”  – Henry David Thoreau¹

We all know we need to save money, but many struggle to actually do it. Before working harder and longer hours to earn more, consider looking closely at your current spending habits to see where your money is really going. Look at the amount of time you’re trading for the money to pay for those things. Be honest – are those expenses truly worth the amount of life you’re exchanging for them? Being purposeful about your spending can help you stop wasting money.

Is It Worth It?

Cutting Cords – Check with cable, internet, and phone providers to negotiate for better rates and packages than what you currently have. Look at the plan you have to be sure you’re using the features you’re paying for and to cancel what you don’t want. It might even make sense to switch providers if a competitor’s plan is a better fit. Additionally, if you cut cable to save money, make sure you aren’t spending too much on multiple streaming services.

Impulse Buying & Bargain Hunting – Distracted and bored? Put down your device! The lure of social media ads, browsing online when bored, infomercial promises, and pop-up sales can drain your wallet faster than you can “click now.” You don’t want to feel guilty for buying yet another thing that you have to find storage space for it to sit unused.

Water – By switching from bottled water to a reusable water cup, the average American can easily save about $260 a year.²

Subscriptions & Memberships – Many services have moved to subscription models, so it’s a good idea to review your subscriptions³ regularly to make sure they fit your needs and finances. You might even find a few subscriptions you don’t remember ordering – many start with a free trial period that comes and goes while we’re busy. 

Take Out & Eating Out – It’s nice to have a break, especially if you’re in a rush, but it pays to look at the real cost of eating out. There’s more than the cost of the meal to consider – the tip, the delivery charge, the gas to and from the eatery, time waiting in line, time waiting for the order, time returning home. If you had to tell Thoreau how much eating out was really costing you, would you choke on the number?

Your Morning Fix – A splurge once in a while on an amazing cup of coffee really is a treat, but a $5 daily habit every workweek is going to run you about $1300 a year. Brewing your own perfect cup at home won’t just save your hard-earned cash, but it’ll save you the additional daily time in line.

Wasted Money, Wasted Energy

We don’t think anything of grabbing a bite on the go, impulse buys online while waiting for an appointment to start, or that free trial we might have forgotten to cancel. But what if we considered the time we spent earning the money as part of the cost? Things are suddenly a lot pricier when we realize we worked three hours just to buy a pair of shoes. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with treats, services, and other purchases that add value to your life. By being purposeful with your spending, you can stop wasting money and valuable time on things that don’t serve you well and focus on what you truly care about.


  1., 2021
  2. Case Western Reserve University, 2021
  3. Cameron Huddleston, GOBankRates, 2021

This content is intended as general information on a topic of interest and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. The information in this material may not be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties, nor is it to be considered legal or tax advice. For specific information suitable to your individual circumstances, please consult FSG. Copyright 2021 FSG.