September 30, 2009 | By: Laurie Campbell

Life's Little Pleasures: An Annual Report

Let's start the way many of us do each workday with the simple little pleasure of a morning coffee. It could be a Latte Grande from Starbucks at $3.95, or maybe it's just a regular Cup 'O' Joe from your local cafeteria at about $1.50. Either way, you're looking at an annual expenditure of between $390 and more than $1,000 just to get your mojo up and running on the basis of a five-day work week.

If you're looking to be cost conscious, you can see where I'm going with this. What you spend on life's little pleasures, like your morning coffee, add up over time - something that can come as a surprise to those who are ridden with debt and wondering where it all went wrong. At Credit Canada we help people answer that question everyday. In matters of money, something is bound to go wrong if you don't bother to question what you regularly spend and set yourself a budget.

A measure of self-awareness is in order. If debt concerns you, and you want to save money, you might take stock of all the little pleasures in life that pinch your pennies. And you might ask yourself, are there cost-saving alternatives to satisfying your desires? For example, do you really need that latte from Starbucks? Could you make your own coffee? Maybe get a coffee press if taste is an issue? 

You also might ask yourself, are the desires you seek to satisfy, desirable in the first place? I have a friend, for example, Bob, who smokes two packages of cigarettes a day. He's a writer who's working on a novel at home, and he tells me he can't function creatively without having a butt on the go. Well, cost of entry for writers I suppose, who are always smoking or drinking Bourbon. But it's one heck of a cost of entry - just one pack of smokes a day at 10 bucks a crack adds up to $3,520 a year. That's a lot of cash!

Try the exercise of making a list of the little pleasures you spend money on, and what that spending adds up to annually. Some examples:

> Going out to see a movie twice a month at $10 a head costs you $240 a year, and never mind the price of popcorn (movie rentals, online resources and movie theatre discount days offer ways to save).

>  Buying a paperback novel each week at $10 equals $520 annually (there's plenty to read for free through libraries and online resources; not to mention, you can save big by checking out second-hand bookstores).

>  Dropping as little as $12 a week at the bar for a couple of pints adds up to $652 a year.

>  A dollar a day for a newspaper costs you $364 a year (news you can easily get free online).

> A five-dollar lunch times five work days equals $1,300 per year.

> Two packs of gum a week times 52 weeks equals $104.

You don't have to give up all of life's little pleasures to save money. But you should question and analyze what those pleasures are costing you. Sound advice for everyone, particularly my friend Bob, the smoker.


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