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Bad money habits that are costing you more than you realise

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We're sure you've asked yourself this question many a time - Where does all my money go? 

We weren't too sure either until we started investigating our bank account and tracking all of our purchases in the last year. Turns out we could be saving a lot more than we originally realised. 

From food to rent to entertainment, our earnings are handed out like little (or large) chocolate pieces to all of the things that allow us to live. But many of those expenses could have been reduced, spent on something better or prevented.

Here are the things we're cutting back on to get financially healthy in 2015.

Skipping breakfast at home

The problem: The first thing we sacrifice when we're running out of time in the morning is breakfast. We'll buy coffee and a bacon butty on our way into work or go for a mid-morning snack when we're feeling really peckish. 

Cost: The standard Pret breakfast costs £3. If on average you skip breakfast three days a week, the cost of store-bought breakfast can add up to £48 per month.

Solution: Go to sleep with your curtains or blinds open. It's much easier to wake up when your room is full of light. Alternatively, if you really need those extra 10 minutes of sleep, pack a healthy morning snack the night before. Take inspiration from these 10 ultimate healthy breakfast recipes

Turning to Uber

The problem: We've lost count the number times we've walked away from a sardine-style tube ride in favour of the taxi-booking app. With no cash required and the ability to see exactly where and who your driver is, it's the quick, convenient and affordable (when compared to black cab prices) way to get to where you want in the city.

Cost: Even £10 put towards an Uber car ride once a week can add up to at least £480 a year.

Solution: Delete the app from your phone for a month and allow enough time to walk if it's a reasonable distance. Scientists have found walking is the best exercise you can get.

Buying coffee

The problem: Unlike tea, great coffee doesn't easily come homemade. It's far easier to pop into the local cafe and buy one and for many of us a coffee run is a break from our strenuous work loads.

Cost: A single daily coffee purchase can cost from £13 a week; that's £676 a year.

Solution: You can make brilliant coffee with a cafetiere (try this Bodum one from £10) and fresh coffee (stored in an airtight container in the fridge and used within a fortnight). We found this infographic that shows you how to perfectly create 38 different types of coffee to be very useful. 

coffee

Buying lunch

The problem: There are far too many reasons to buy lunch. It's our favourite meal of the day, a packed lunch never tastes as good as something store-bought and there are never enough hours to prepare lunch meals at home, are just three. Which is why we hate to admit an aversion to packed lunches is expensive.

Cost: On average, £5 on lunch every work day equates to £1,200 a year.

Solution: Try one of these 10 wonderful packed lunch recipes you can make at home and follow @mealprepmondays on Instagram for some brilliant visual, lunch box inspiration.

Drinking after work 

The problem: It's the end of a deadline or working week and the team head to the pub. It's a great way to wind down, catch up with peers and celebrate, however the cost of buying a round can make a serious dent in the pocket.

Cost: Spending £25 on Friday after-work drinks adds up to £100 a month  

Solution: Try to narrow after work drinks to twice a month. Be honest with your colleagues and tell them you're trying to save money. Chances are they will feel the same way.

Saving credit card details on online stores

The problem: By allowing Amazon, iTunes, ASOS, John Lewis and many more e-tailers to save your your debit and credit card details, you make the purchasing process dangerously easy. 

Cost: In the past, we've fleetingly spent £50 on books on Amazon and £200 on sale items in John Lewis just because our payment details were one click away.

Solution: Remove all saved account details on your profile so that you're forced to enter the digits on your card to make a purchase. This will give you more time to ponder over the purchase and decide on whether you truly want or need it. Also resist memorising your credit card number; that trip to your bag and purse could prevent you from an impulse buy.

Subscribing to online services

The problem: In 2013, three quarters of Brits wasted money on unused subscription services. While we 

Cost: Netflix costs £71.88 per year (£83.88 if you joined after May 2014) and Amazon Prime went up to £79 a year in 2014. If you calculate the annual cost of the news websites, apps and services you're subscribed to it's a significant amount, especially if you don't use the product.

Solution: Most platforms don't allow you to put your subscription on hold for when it's a particularly busy month at work or when you're away on holiday, so monitor how much you use the service every week and if you're not getting your money's worth, unsubscribe.

You may also like: '10 tips for cutting costs and saving money'

wardrobe

Disorganised clothes and shoes

The problem: Ever bought a jumper or a pair of heels only to find you had something similar sitting in the back of your cupboard? A disorganised wardrobe can often cause you to forget about the things you already have or could make do with.

Cost: Women in the UK who spend £3.5billion on shoes, two thirds of which never make it out of the box.

Solution: Take every single item out of your wardrobe and remove anything that doesn't tick these boxes: Have I worn it this year? Does it wash well? Does it go with at least three other things in my wardrobe? 

Shopping last minute and under impulse

The problem: Fast fashion in the modern age has given rise to impulse buys. We can now purchase clothes at affordable prices whenever and wherever we want. However it's not often what we need, want or will like to wear in the long run. 

Cost: Women waste £1.6billion women on clothing they will never wear (an average of 22 items in every wardrobe).

Solution: Style educator and therapist Samantha Clarke who runs the Dressing Well classes at The School of Life recommends purse-free shopping days. "Go shopping, try things on – how does it make you feel, does the colour suit you? It teaches you to shop smarter,” she says.

Food wastage

The problem: Supermarkets place discounts and offers on large or multi-pack items. These bumper packets are often too large for an individual or couple to consume by the expiry date and lead to greater food and money wastage. 

Solution: After a weekly supermarket shop, assess what foods you won't get through in a week and freeze them. Fruits, vegetables, bread, pizza, pies, pasta dishes, soup, cake, milk, grated cheese, leftover egg yolks or whites, shelled nuts and many more foods retain their nutrients and freshness when frozen.

You may also like: 'The money-saving websites you didn't know you needed'

travel

Booking last minute travel tickets

The problem: There was once a time when last-minute flights were a bargain but those days are long gone. Airlines generally offer a set number of cheap seats on each flight, and once these seats sell the price rises because airlines know business travellers tend to book their seats at the last minute and are willing to pay a premium for their flights.

Cost: Hundreds of pounds

Solution: The universally applicable rule to getting a cheap travel ticket is to start looking online early. National Rail tickets are available at maximum 12 weeks in advance and are sold in limited numbers. For flights the longer you have to research prices, the more options you have as prices tend to fluctuate by hour. We've found the cheapest rates are offered on a weekday morning when fewer people are looking.

Going over data allowance on phone

The problem: ​The average website takes around 500KB to load and an hour of browsing takes around 15MB. Social media uses more. It's easy to go over a your data allowance if it's below 2GB every month. 

Cost: For every 500MB over your data allowance, Three charges £50, Vodaphone charges £13 and EE charges £3 for an add on.

Solution: Set a reminder to check your data usage one week before your month allowance ends. That way you're prepared for rationing your use of data. Make sure you're connected to wifi at work and home to save cutting into your data limits even further.

Buying seasonal beauty products

The problem: Every season, there's a new nail varnish shade or skincare product we buy with great excitement, but then find it shuffled to the back after a few weeks of use.

Cost: According to the research by Vaseline in 2014, Women waste an average of 5,846 beauty products in their lifetimes, amounting to £180,000 in a lifetime.

Solution: Don't buy hastily or be lured in by offers. Give yourself at least a week to research reviews, consider alternative products and ask friends and colleagues for their opinion to find the perfect product. Try to seek advice from someone with a similar skin condition to yours, if a lotion gives your dry-skinned colleague a flawless complexion it won't work the same way for your semi-oily skin.

Going out for dinner

The problem: Whether they're pop-ups or new ventures from the biggest chefs on the scene, there's always new restaurant we're dying to try. But this passion is not always kind to our bank balance.

Cost: A £60 three course meal with wine for two every week adds up to £240 a month. That's on average £2,880 a year.

Solution: Pick one special restaurant you want to visit every two weeks and cut out other luxuries such as store-bought coffee and breakfast to save up for it. It'll be more memorable than that croissant and latte.

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