CNNMoney (New York) — You might be shocked to learn exactly how much those bad habits are costing you in potential retirement savings.
We get it. You enjoy your morning latte, and we don’t want to take that away from you. But we could all cut back on some guilty pleasures without sucking the fun out of life.
Don’t think you can do it? Take a look at just how much more money you’ll have in retirement if you make these small changes to your spending habits.
Let’s assume you’re in your 20s, not retiring for another 40 years, and that your savings will grow by 7.8% annually over that time period. (That was the annual rate of return for the S&P 500 over the past 40 years.)
If you’re lucky enough to have that much time on your side, here’s how much these bad money habits are costing you:
Eating out too much: $207,598
Dining out in restaurants is fun, but doing it too often is expensive and unnecessary. Get into the habit of eating at home for just one weekend a month, that’s all we’re asking for. You can still go out for dinner every other Friday and Saturday night. The average American spends $252 a month eating out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you skip two restaurant meals, we figure you’ll save $63. By the time you hit retirement age, you’ll have a couple hundred thousand extra in the bank.
Taking cabs often: $235,963
A quicker ride home is always tempting. But barring a torrential downpour, maybe the convenience isn’t always worth the cost. Though a $20 cab ride might not seem like a big splurge, doing it once a week is costing you $960 a year. That alone could be enough to buy you an entire house in retirement.
Can’t stand to give up the convenience for good? If a cab-free life feels like too much of a sacrifice to you, try doing it for just one year. You’ll still end up with an extra $19,365 in retirement.
Smoking a pack a day costs Americans an average of $176 a month, according to WalletHub. Plus, it’s bad for you, so quitting is a win-win. If you have trouble kicking the habit, just thinking of the cumulative savings of well over half a million dollars. When we did the math we assumed you’ll go cold turkey — and never go back.
Buying coffee every day: $79,085
Don’t worry, you can still splurge on a latte here and there. But consider this: A $10 bag of ground coffee should last you at least a month and still give you the same caffeine fix. So skip buying your daily $2.50 Cup of Joe and brew it at home. As a reward, splurge on a tall Starbucks latte once a week. You’ll still come out ahead $24 a month.
Paying for a gym you don’t use: $131,808
It’s important to stay fit, but there are plenty of ways to do it that won’t put your financial health at risk. If you’re only going once or twice a month, it might be time to quit the gym — especially if it’s a pricy sports club.
We don’t expect you to say goodbye to treadmills forever, but maybe a membership doesn’t fit your schedule right now. If you cancel a $40 monthly membership, it would save you $480 over the next year. That alone could give you an extra $9,682 of spending cash in retirement.
Streaming commercial-free music: $32,919
Maybe unlimited music streaming is a total game changer for you. Then far be it from us to deprive you of that happiness for a mere $9.99 a month. But if you can tolerate listening to a couple of ads, you can still hear all your favorite songs and end up with a nice chunk of change in retirement. (While you’re at it, take stock of other services you’ve signed up for. Maybe the free month was great but it’s not worth the monthly cost.)
Ordering the wine: $151,579
Americans spend an average of $46 a month on alcohol, according to the BLS. You might spend a lot more or a lot less. No one is saying you have to kick the habit altogether. But wine drinkers could probably save at least that much by choosing a BYOB restaurant twice a month, or drinking at home instead of going out. Restaurants are notorious for marking up the price of wine, charging upwards of $25 for a bottle that could cost you $12 or less at a liquor store.