Three Habits Guaranteed to Drain Your Savings Account

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drain your savings account

Without careful tracking, planning and analysis of your spending, it is possible to develop habits that will drain your savings account faster than you might realize. Often times what we actually spend in certain areas, like groceries, can be a much higher number than what we think we spend.

Our family learned this first hand after we analyzed our spending at the end of 2012 and found that we were spending twice what we thought we spent in the areas of groceries, entertainment and gasoline expenses. Once we moved past our shock, we realized that we needed to change our habits and take action to create new, healthy habits to reign in our spending and start thinking more carefully and methodically about our purchases. The first way we did that was by tracking every expense. Then, we set a budget and have done our best, day in and day out, to stick to it. Here are three habits that we learned from personal experience can drain your savings account if you’re not careful.

Think Twice Before You Drain Your Savings Account for the Sake of Convenience


Often times we want to buy newer/bigger/better or fancier things because we think it will make life more convenient, but convenience can be a double-edged sword. Yes, that in-ground swimming pool will save you time and money that you would normally spend going to the beach or local community pool, and yes, it would be convenient to go right out into the back yard to swim, but will the cost, maintenance and care of that pool be a burden on your time and your budget?

Often times with upgraded items for the home or for yourself come more to do in terms of caring for those upgraded items than people had bargained for. With new stuff comes more to take care of, more to repair and more to maintain. So if you’re considering a purchase that will supposedly make your life more convenient, make sure to look at the other side of the coin and count not only the initial cost of the new item, but the time and money it will cost to maintain and repair said item.

Out With the Old, In With the New


With technology changing as rapidly as it is these days, the newest state-of-the-art techy gadget of today will most surely be replaced by something newer and better tomorrow. However, just because something better comes along, that doesn’t mean that’s it’s time to upgrade.

We got a little lesson in this recently when our old tube TV (our only television) died.  I was complaining to my little brother about the expense of our first flat screen TV purchase, which occurred this month. Although we’ve wanted a new flatscreen TV for years, we simply couldn’t justify it as the purchase didn’t fit in with our goal of becoming debt free, especially when our old tube television worked just fine.

As I was complaining about our $568 spend, my brother shared with me a different perspective. “You’re actually pretty lucky you waited and bought now.” he said. “We bought the exact same TV 5 years ago and paid $5,000 for it.” This little story illustrates why it might be better to keep the old, and buy new later on.

Can’t Buy Me Love


Often times people fall into the habit of spending money to gain love or acceptance from people, and this is a habit that will drain your savings account real quick, and your goal to gain love or acceptance will fail as well. Instead of working to buy one’s time or affection, look for relationships in which people appreciate you as you are, not because of the money you have or how you spend it.

No, you don’t need to be cheap, but at the same time, a true friend or loved one will appreciate you for who you are, not what you have, and will also appreciate your commitment to being responsible with your money.

There are likely many more habits that will drain your savings account if you let them, but you don’t have to fall prey to them. Instead, keep an objective eye on your spending, making sure to put a stop to unhealthy habits that have a continual drain on your bank account.


What habits do you have, or have you overcome, that have drained your savings account? Have you ever tracked your spending? If not, what do you think you spend on groceries each month and are you willing to keep track of it for a month or two to see if your perception of reality is accurate?



Photo courtesy of: David Blackwell


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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.


  • Good examples of spending traps we easily fall into Laurie. We have the in-ground swimming pool and so I winced in agreement when I read your first paragraph.

    • Laurie says:

      Really! So, you haven’t found it to be cost-effective? I love reading real-life perspectives about stuff like this, since everyone’s version of cost-effective is different.

  • Autumn @ The Barefoot Budgeter says:

    Groceries and eating out used to be a huge drain every month. We were spending twice as much as we thought we were. It was obscene. The really sad thing is that I was sort of tracking through Mint, I just wasn’t reviewing it. It’s still an area we struggle with, but now we are much closer to what we thought we were spending before we buckled down.

  • Amy says:

    Groceries, definitely! This especially happens when we have guests.

  • We’ve gotten our grocery budget down to an average of $60/mo, so we can’t complain in that area. But even with just driving to work and back and a few minimal trips on the weekend, our gas bill is about $125/mo. Can’t wait until we can afford upgrading to a hybrid! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      That’s an awesome grocery budget, Deb! Regarding the gas, have you tried hypermiling? We’ve done just a bit of it this week with great results!! Will over at First Quarter Finance just had a great post about that….

  • If I didn’t pay attention to my grocery buying, that would be my drain. Anyone can go into a grocery store buying either $40 worth of groceries or $200. It’s really just a matter of paying attention to what you put in the cart.

  • Grayson Bell says:

    I used to love paying for convenience, but I have since learned the error of my ways. My savings does not go down the drain on those things anymore.

  • Michelle says:

    Technology and clothing were two spending drains for me. Tech stuff can quite easily get out of control if you try to keep up with it all, you start trying to find things wrong with what you have to justify buying something new. Thankfully that stopped a long time ago for me and my TV, computer and Ipod are all 5+ years old. They won’t be replaced until they break and maybe not even then.
    Clothing is a huge money suck, especially if you try to keep up with trends, but also if you buy too cheaply. Cheap stuff can end up costing as much as a more expensive quality item.

    • Laurie says:

      Good for you for breaking the mold when it comes to technology, Michelle!! It can be so easy to get sucked into having the latest and greatest. I couldn’t agree more on clothing: there needs to be a balance between spending too much for simply a name and wasting your cash on cheap garbage. Great comment!

  • I was definitely a victim of spending too much on those I loved. It wasn’t necessarily in the pursuit of buying their affections, I just enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them. When I started to look closer at my finances, though, I realized that I didn’t need to spend as much as I was, and I could still get the enjoyment of giving to others while not spending as much.

    • Laurie says:

      That is such a valuable lesson, Shannon. I used to do that a lot with the kids, until I learned that I was doing them a much bigger favor by managing our money responsibly. 🙂

  • Kassandra says:

    As you know by now Laurie, I am a reformed shopaholic. I also fell prey to the need to show my love for others by spending money on them. It took me awhile but I figured out what was driving me and changed course. I have been living with a spending plan for several years and it has helped immensely.

  • E.M. says:

    I definitely think it’s worth it to wait on technology sometimes. Even a few months after something comes out, it gets discounted. I do this a lot with video games (our form of entertainment), as they cost $60 when they come out, and usually drop by half after four-six months. It pays to be behind sometimes!

    • Wow – that’s amazing how much those game prices drop in such a short period of time!! Think about your collection and if you’d bought all those games at full price – that would add up to a lot of cash real quick!

  • anna says:

    I don’t really understand when people are constantly upgrading their gadgets – it just seems wasteful, but in terms of the gadgets and money. Great tips as always, Laurie!!

  • Lauren says:

    I used to spend so much dining out at restaurants just for the convenience. I never wanted to cook and I wanted something good to eat without making much of an effort. That was a bad habit that I had to break. Once I realized how much money I was spending, I knew it had to stop!

    • Laurie says:

      Lauren, we had the same bad habit!! Once I started tracking how much we spent on restaurants, I knew we had to reign it in. Now even driving by one makes me want to run from it. 🙂

  • Yep, this is all true! Been there, done that. Never again =) I try to avoid all of these traps now and it pays off over time.

    • Laurie says:

      You guys show that it really does pay off over time!! You’re now at that “smooth sailing” point of your money journey, which is where a lot more people could be if they’d take some of these steps.

  • It’s crazy how the same TV’s cost so much less than they used to! One thing I had to overcome is saying yes to social plans that were out of my budget. After volleyball there is always that group going out to eat or doing other fun things, and it was hard at first to say no, but now I’m used to it, and I know for a fact there are some in serious financial trouble in that group that are always buying drinks for people, food, etc.

    • Laurie says:

      Going out really can add up to serious financial trouble and I think people don’t realize it because it’s just “a burger” or “a couple of drinks”. Someone we know recently went out for “a couple of drinks” to the tune of $180!

  • Great points…I’m working on a post about people always upgrading to the newest stuff all the time. It is especially true with technology…the companies want to make it sound like if you don’t get the latest thing, your gadget is outdated. Really? Are the new features really that important? Probably not.

    • Laurie says:

      I’ll tell you, Andrew – we don’t miss ’em. Not one bit. Can’t wait to read your article – I just love your thought-provoking posts!

  • It’s always interested when I first meet potential clients almost all insist that they have a good handle on what they spend and don’t need to track. But when they do, they experience the same you and Rick did. They can’t believe how much they spend (and overspend) in certain areas and then have no money to do things that they really enjoy. It’s very easy to go overboard with gift-giving. As much as I enjoy receiving nice gifts too, I would never ever want anyone to go into debt buying me a present. It’s something I keep in mind when I buy presents for others too.

    • Laurie says:

      We see the same thing when people come to us, Shannon. They don’t want to see/believe that they are spending a lot more than they think they are, but when the numbers are sitting in front of them, there’s no denying it.

  • Alexis says:

    A habit of mine that I didn’t even keep too much track of was spending money on nightlife when I turned 21. I learned from it and realized I couldn’t be spending so much money on food and drinks.

  • Hey Laurie, one of my big issues was buying coffee (and sometimes a treat) every day. It didn’t seem like a lot until I started to add it up. Now I make coffee at home, or sometimes drink the office coffee, and occasionally I’ll treat myself to a purchased coffee. It was surprisingly easy to stop and it’s done wonders for my bank balance. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      That’s the smart way to do it, Thomas. Rick found the same thing with lunch at work. He now happily brings a bag lunch to the tune of a couple of bucks, instead of $10 or so on cafeteria lunch.

  • Gary says:

    Laurie, I agree that tracking is important. My wife and I track all of our expenses and check our spending versus budget at the end of every month. Those big appliance purchases (such as when I replaced my broken dishwasher this year) can take you way off track if you don’t plan for those in your budget. That’s where it helps to have long-term tracking, to know how much to set aside for the repairs and replacements that inevitably pop up.

    • Gary, great point!!! I continue to be surprised at how much tracking our spending affects our budget too. It’s such a huge wealth-builder – I wish more people would see it that way instead of as some sort of ball and chain on one’s spending.

  • Frugal living is all about making smart financial decisions and saving money, so you can live the rest of your life happily. It is all about knowing when and how much you should spend on something you want.

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