Routines That Cost Us Money

Routines That Cost Us Money

As I write this post today I am surrounded by busy people. Today I have the privileged of flying business/first with my work and consequently this gives me a taste of how others live. Fast track security queues, business lounges and priority anything. I cringe at the thought of how much my ticket cost. I could make 10 economy return trips for the same price, yet thousands of people are willing to pay this enormous amount of money every day for an enhanced flying experience. Is it worth it?…. If I’m not personally paying then hellll yes!

I can’t help but look around me and people watch. As I sit and eat my breakfast alone, I am in the majority. Most of the others in the room gaze out onto the aircraft parking stand; undoubtedly thinking about the ones they love or where they would rather be. Airports are strange places… they require you to check in hours before, just to have you all wait like sheep at the gate to board. Collectively, think how much time is wasted every day from individuals sat waiting in airports; thousands of years worth of labor… a lifetime!

As I consider the tens of thousands of pounds worth of designer goods around me sitting in bags – some presents for others, some for self – I ask myself is this kind of lifestyle really worth it? One where each business trip makes someone feel guilty and to bring back an even more expensive present each time.

Conversely, does this absence make the traveler miss their loved ones so much that they can’t wait to spoil them and bear them in their arms?

Maybe these people all have so much money that these expensive gifts are the equivalent to me buying a bottle of perfume or a big bar of chocolate.

The honest answer is, I don’t know yet.

A Place for Reflection

I like to think of this ‘wasted’ time positively. How often do we plan an hour or so into our schedules to sit and think? I would guess the answers are: not very often, very occasionally, or never. Aside from writing this post (which in itself is reflection) I spend my time reflecting on my life, reflecting on our life and reflecting on the decisions that we have made. While I don’t focus on regretting things, I always make a point to think about the future and the financial place of freedom and security that we want to get to.

When I said goodbye to Mrs Scot as she dropped me off, I realise how much I am going to miss her – yet it is only going to be a week. I miss my family back home in Scotland and I haven’t seen them in months. The difference I think is that I am used to seeing Mrs Scot all the time. I am used to sharing our stories about our day at work in the evening, working out at the gym with her and sharing dinner. I am used to falling asleep in her arms and waking up cuddled into her. I am used to seeing my family occasionally.


It’s Just Like Spending Money

We are habitual creatures and most of us are addicted to routine. When we deviate from said routine, it triggers various emotions inside us – which typically starts with missing something / someone. Our routines go far deeper than human interactions; consider the routines you have of spending money.

  • Coffees throughout the day
  • Buying a newspaper / magazines
  • Putting on expensive makeup
  • Wearing different designer outfits
  • Joining an expensive gym
  • Lunch
  • Takeaway Food
  • Going to the Pub

You get the idea… all of our ‘habits’ or ‘routines’ cost money in some way – some far more than others. The problem is, when these things become engrained in our routines, they are very difficult to break. For example, getting a coffee with friends on your lunch break is something you do to catch up and gossip, you want to look of the same standard every day and you need the expensive clothes / makeup to pull it off. The shop closest to your work is expensive and there are not many other options. Going to the pub is social and you look forward to it all week… It is hard to break these routines.


The Key is Substitution

My two cents of advice for the day is to work on substitution. Going to the pub with five friends at the weekend costs a small fortune. If each of you spend £20, you have spent £100 together. Think how much beer and food £100 could buy from the supermarket? Enough for each of you to have a turn hosting the others at your place right?!

Instead of becoming fixated on what you are spending money on, try thinking about why it is that you do it. For example, you buy a newspaper to read the latest news… a mobile app will give you the same information (and more up-to-date) for free! The morning coffee wakes you up, but buying a thermal mug and making it yourself will save a freaking fortune!

Every time I spend money, I question the value of what I am getting. Buying a coffee in an airport when you are waiting for a flight is valuable; You can’t take your own through security and it provides a great opportunity to sit down and relax with a hot drink. Buying a coffee everyday on the way to work is not valuable. This is part of a routine and something that can be avoided.


Time for Action

As I write this I am thinking about all the things I can do to break routines that cost more money than required. The primary thing is probably spending money on food when we don’t always need to. Our busy routine leads us to laziness in the evening occasionally and we end up buying food when we already have something (more complicated) to make.


What routine is costing you money?

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  1. I always take lunch into work as this saves me cash every day, I was previously spending £6 a day on lunch! And it means if I did want to buy the odd coffee, I can.

  2. I used to travel a fair amount when I was working in Corporate America. So I had plenty of downtime at airports. It was both good and bad. These days you can still get a surprising amount of work done thanks to technology. On the flip side, being forced to do nothing gave me a chance to reflect and get quiet instead of racing onto the next thing. Business travelers are always an interesting bunch. There is always some showing off – look at my bag, or phone, or watch or how much I’ve travelled, etc – happening. And I certainly remember searching through hotel gift stores and airport stores looking for a little something to bring back to the girls, although I was never extravagant. They were quite young so a lollipop made them happy. 🙂 Enjoy your travels! Especially since get to travel first class on someone else’s dime!

  3. “Surrounded by tens of thousands of pounds of designer goods”

    What’s all that about then! 😛 Doesn’t sound like the penny pincher I thought you were 😀

    There is a book about what we pay for “convenience” called the Undercover Economist. It uses the sale of Coffee on train station platforms as a metaphor for many other things. The problem is, the book is crap and long winded.

    You pretty much summarised in one blog post what the book was trying to do in so many hundred pages of waffle!

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