The long term costs of small expenses

No one wants to live life in a state of constant austerity, and it’s easy to become penny wise and pound foolish, though there is a middle ground between frivolous spending and misery.  Instead of saying how much habits could hypothetically cost you, it might be more helpful to let you see firsthand how quickly expenses add up.  To do this, I’ve created another calculator.


The following calculator lets you put in a dollar amount and see how much more you could have at retirement if you invested the money instead.  When you put in the expense you’ll see how much you have if you spent that amount daily, on weekends, five days a week, weekly, and once a month.  Just fill out the expense amount, how many years you have until you retire, and optionally the return you expect to get on your investments (I default to 7%).

The goal of using this calculator is to show you just how much a dollar here and there adds up over your working life.  What are some numbers to calculate?  Here are some ideas using numbers I found online over a 40 year working career.

  • Stopping at a coffee shop in the morning on your way to work ($230,978)
  • Raising an insurance deductible ($50,596)
  • Going to a slower speed of Internet service ($47,912)
  • Eating one less meal out a week (per person) ($207,621)
  • Not using outdoor flood lights at night or switching to a motion activated model ($27,981)
  • Cost of using an ATM that charges a fee once a week ($31,143)
  • Smoking half a pack a day ($291,467)
  • Maintaining a gym membership you don’t use ($131,759)
  • Using premium fuel in your car ($57,495)
  • $10 a week in lottery tickets ($103,810)

Try it yourself with some of your expenses.

The point here is that you don’t have to scrape by to boost your retirement account balances.  A lot of small changes coupled with time will make a huge impact on the amount of money you have available for retirement.  The important thing is you take action now.  Most people say they don’t have enough money to invest, but even a dollar a day will make an impact on your life in retirement.


If you have any questions or comments, you can reach out below or continue the discussion in the forum.  If you are interested in receiving a notification of new posts, you can subscribe here.

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