This is a guest article from Stefanie! She’s trying to find ways to stretch her budget in one of the most expensive cities out there, New York City. A graduate of New York University’s drama and psychology programs at the height of the financial crisis, Stefanie discovered the world of financial planning out of necessity. Thanks for sharing your insight, Stefanie!
There’s a simple savings tool you may have overlooked. It doesn’t require cutting back on indulgences, savvy investing strategies, or even detailed budgeting. The key is planning ahead.
Here are some situations in which waiting until the last minute might be costing you, and how you can plan ahead to save in the future.
Running late can lead to a significantly more expensive commute. In NYC, it typically comes down to taking the subway or hailing a cab. For me, that’s a choice between $2.50 on mass transit and about $10 on a taxi. Needless to say, I always leave enough time to get to the train, or even better, ride my bike.
Failing to bring lunch, pack snacks, and plan dinners at home can lead to an expensive grab and go habit. Dropping into the local deli or visiting the office vending machine for an afternoon pick me up carries a convenience cost that can add up quickly when it becomes a daily habit. There’s no need to cut out afternoon snacking. Just buy in bulk and bring from home. Or, if you have trouble remembering to pack a daily snack, bring the whole box and keep it at your desk!
You may get lucky with a last minute deal, but generally speaking, booking travel late in the game is an expensive endeavor. According to International Business Times, “…the worst time to buy a [plane] ticket is the day before. Two days before is a close second, and then three days and so on…” You probably have to request your vacation days or confirm visits to family and friends in advance anyway. Plan travel as soon as you get approved to avoid putting it off and getting stuck with the high prices of last minute booking.
From shipping a package to dropping off dry cleaning, a quick turn around will cost you. I recently renewed my passport and know first hand that expedited service will run you an additional $60 charge plus the cost of overnight delivery fees. Note expiration dates on all important documents or service contracts. Mark your calendar with special events that will require specific preparations. Then flip your planner to a month before and make a note to deal with each of those items and expirations ahead of time.
From clothing to holiday decorating the best deals are always available at the end of each season. Rather than stocking up on winter boots in March and Christmas decorations in January, the majority of people continue to choose to pay the premium of shopping during the peak price season. Shop smarter by taking advantage of the end of season clearance deals.
“Drop In” Buys
A quick trip to the drugstore to buy shampoo, deodorant, or whatever you just ran out of is almost always more expensive than if you plan ahead and order items in bulk, purchase with coupons, or use a subscribe and save service like Amazon.com’s. When it comes to dry goods, paper products, personal care, and anything else you use consistently that doesn’t go bad, stock up when you see savings or order online when you find yourself getting to the bottom of a package.
These are just a few examples of how failing to plan ahead can lead to expensive, last-minute decisions. How has waiting until the last minute cost YOU?