We're all guilty of spending money on completely unnecessary things. (And if you live in a city like New York or L.A., chances are you know what it's like to burn a hole in your pocket!) But this year, we at Verily have resolved to kick those bad buying habits to the curb and get smart about our finances.
It turns out the way you spend money can actually influence your happiness. According to TheWall Street Journal, "For instance, giving money away makes people a lot happier than lavishing it on themselves. And when they do spend money on themselves, people are a lot happier when they use it for experiences like travel than for material goods."
A few tweaks here and there will make all the difference—and provide us with more funds to give or save for the things we really need. (Trip to Paris, anyone? Kidding, kidding.) Read on to find out what exactly we're purchasing, plus our practical advice for changing that in 2015.
"When I became an entrepreneur a few years ago, I really buckled down on the big-ticket spending (weekly brunch and expensive restaurant outings, impromptu shopping sprees), but I've found that the little things now kill my budget. I am incredibly lazy during the week when it comes to food—if there isn't something ready to go in the fridge when I walk out in the morning, then I will end up grabbing that $10 teriyaki chicken plate at the spot down the street for lunch.
I did the math—even cutting down my lunch habit by half would fund the flight for my next international adventure. Honestly, this one is requiring a lifestyle overhaul, complete with meal planning for the week ahead to go shopping on the weekends and spending a few hours cooking on Sunday, but it will definitely help my wallet—and my health!"
—Kara, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief
"As a newlywed settling into an apartment, and looking around for houses come June, I'm really guilty of buying little decorative knick-knacks for our home/future home. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods: They all kill me. And, I often don't even have a place to put these cute decorative kitchenware and living room touches. I just keep imagining that we might need this mirror, or we might need this frame.
My goal is to wait until we actually are settled and have a house we want to build up—and to be really discerning about what we need with the space we have when the time comes."
—Janet, Co-Founder and Style Editor
"CVS, you slay me. I mean, I love the 10-foot-long receipts and all, but I know it's your sneaky way of getting me back into the store to buy things I really do not need. I'm talking buy-one-get-one-half-off Glade candles, teeth-whitening strips, another new lip balm, and even greeting cards. These little items don't sound that bad, but the only thing I needed in the first place was toilet paper. Plus, the magazines in the checkout line always catch my eye. (I can't help it!) And all these small purchases add up.
From now on, I vow to tear up the coupons for items that were never on my shopping list. (Vibrating toothbrush, I'm looking at you.) When I finish using my lip balm, onlythen will I buy a new one with the coupon. I also will subscribe to two of my favorite magazines. The subscriptions are $5 a year—the price of one issue at the drugstore. With all the spare change I'll save, I may start splurging on the extra-plush toilet paper."
—Maggie, Managing Editor
"I spend money on quick-workout gimmicks that I never use. I own an eight-pound kettlebell that I've never swung, a core ball that's still deflated in the box, and workout DVDs ranging from Intro to Pilates to Dancing With the Stars workout routines. Oh, and my worst sin: that stationary bike pedal exerciser from SkyMall. Don't get me started on the books I've collected. The truth is I get a better workout walking through the store buying this stuff than actually using them!
Now I will refocus. I have decided to choose one or two of these items I currently own, and add them into my routine to use at least once a week—starting with my yoga mat and Miracle Ball Method for improving back fitness. If within a month I don't end up actually making these exercises a part of my weekly routine, these babies will have to find a new home at the Salvation Army!"
—Mary Rose, Culture Editor
"There are two courses of action when you have a hot date and you look in your closet and feel totally uninspired: get creative or go shopping. I have the unfortunate habit of choosing the latter when my imagination runs dry. It's a little something I like to call the "special occasion splurge."
This year, I will kick the habit and commit myself to accessorizing what I already own instead—it's actually pretty easy because my entire closet consists of black, black, and more black. I can't go wrong with any belt, necklace, or jacket I choose!"
—Monica, Relationships Editor
Fast Food and Takeout
I used to order via Seamless, GrubHub, and Yelp all the time. We're talking at least once a day! This year, I'll do it max once a week, only ordering a healthy meal I can't make easily so that I'm not spending my money eating crap. For all other meals, I'll invest in high-quality ingredients that I know I'll enjoy preparing (and eating!). I'm essentially turning grocery shopping into a treat. I won't make myself feel guilty for spending a little extra on Satsuma mandarins, organic blackberries, or cave-aged Gruyere—anything to bring an otherwise boring salad to life!
—Krizia, Lifestyle Editor
Honestly? Work clothes. I was a freelancer for a long time (read: I hung out in jammies til 3 p.m.), so the thought of wearing a pair of slim-fit trousers excites me to no end. It's a business investment, right? Not according to my checking account.
What's a girl to do? For starters, I will avoid going anywhere near Banana Republic! Another goal is to cancel all email subscriptions from clothing stores (those 40 percent sales are what get me) and to stop wandering into stores to "browse."
—Haruka, Photographer and Designer
Oh, Rue La La, Gilt, and One Kings Lane. I love these sale apps, but I easily get sucked in and forget the budget! My plan is to simply not go on these sites when I'm bored or looking for a distraction, but only when I'm looking for something specific. For example, I have kept away until this past week when I needed some rugs for a new house. I went on, found rugs, and purchased. I want to treat these sales sites more like a store and not a browsing ground.
—Katherine, Art Director