|One of my clients, Mary recently became an empty
nester when her son moved out earlier this year. Mary is single, working
and has a married daughter with a toddler. She called me because her credit card debt is slowly
creeping up and she wanted to see what she could do before it
became a major problem.
We sat down and reviewed Mary's income and spending patterns. It turned out that since her son moved out of the house, Mary has stopped going to the grocery store on a regular basis and so doesn't keep fresh food in her home. As a result, she has started to eat lunch out and stop for fast food on her way home from work. Mary was spending about $100 per week on coffee, lunch and take-out dinners. (We're not talking about meals that are social events.)
I was at Subway last week and I spent $12.50 for their Chopped Salad and a bottle of water. If I had purchased the equivalent meal (prepared at the grocery store), it would have been about $6. If I purchased the component parts in the grocery store and assembled it myself, we're probably looking at $3 or $4 per salad. (We're talking bagged salad, pre-cooked chicken, some extra vegetables, some salad dressing and a bottle of water.)
Mary is back to going to the grocery store and bringing lunch to work (most days) and is now taking advantage of the employer sponsored coffee and tea and has cut her $100 down to about $50 a week for these groceries and some fast food. (Mary still buys some lunches out - when she goes out with a co-worker, and one night a week eats fast food between work and a scheduled activity.) Mary told me that a side effect is that she's lost a few pounds.
We also noticed that Mary's spending on her grandchild was climbing every month. She would go out with her daughter shopping and then pay for everything, even though her daughter could afford to buy the items herself. Mary now takes out $200 a month cash, puts it in an envelope in her purse and only buys "treats" until the money runs out each month.Do some of these spending patterns look familiar? Are there simple things that you can change? Give me a call and we can review your spending and saving patterns.