7 Easy Ways To Get Smarter With Your Daily Expenses

Designed by Hannah Minn.
When thinking about our spending habits, we tend to only fixate on the major costs (rent, clothing, trips, student debt). But our smaller daily expenses can impact our budget just as much as those big-ticket necessities. Between morning coffee runs (and afternoon coffee runs, and late-afternoon coffee runs...), pricy chopped salads, casual trips to the drugstore that always end with a receipt as tall as we are, and post-happy-hour cabs home, our day-to-day spending can add up way quicker than we think.
In an effort to learn how to better prepare for and navigate our daily expenses, we partnered with Citi and tapped Pamela Capalad, CFP and founder of Brunch & Budget, to put together a cheat sheet of easy-to-implement everyday budgeting tips. First things first: According to Capalad, it's not about cutting out the things you love, it's about crafting a budget around what you value and introducing simple alternatives. So go ahead and keep sipping that $6 green juice without any guilt, and click through for Capalad's best daily spending advice: from splitting your paycheck into three (yes, three) separate accounts to rethinking those enticing coupons and sales.
1 of 7
Designed by Hannah Minn.
Organize your budget according to your values.

Capalad advises starting with what she calls the “urgent important spending matrix.” First, figure out how much is going towards your rent and bills. Then, after you have that number, add on the non-negotiables that you value spending money on. “Give yourself permission to do these things,” she says. “That's the stuff that matters to you. But it's also the stuff that we're told to feel most guilty about.” Instead of cutting out your weekly hot yoga class entirely, adjust how you create your overall budget in the first place, so you make room for what you care about most.
2 of 7
Designed by Hannah Minn.
Split your money into three separate accounts.

While most people have two accounts — one for checking, one for savings — splitting your income into three accounts can help when trying to manage your daily expenses: one for bills, one for savings, and one for discretionary spending. Have your paycheck automatically deposit the exact amount you need to cover your rent, bills, and savings, and whatever is left can go towards everything from a drugstore trip to a cab ride home. “Once the system is going, it's very clear how much money you have left over to spend on those day-to-day things,” Capalad notes.
3 of 7
Designed by Hannah Minn.
Be more realistic (not idealistic) with grocery shopping.

As great as it would be to meal prep every week, it’s not always as easy as the Insta-bloggers make it look. Instead of being overly idealistic with your grocery shopping, go in with the mindset of purchasing only what you know you’ll use. “Get into a grocery-store rhythm where it's stuff you can put together for a meal quickly no matter what. Otherwise, none of that food is going to get made,” Capalad says. As an added bonus, use the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp credit card to get 2x AAdvantage miles on all your grocery buys, so you can rack up miles while stocking up on the necessities.
4 of 7
Designed by Hannah Minn.
Balance your transportation costs.

Though we’d like to think those occasional cab rides don’t add up too much, the truth is that they always do. “It's one of those habits where at first it's just a treat, and then it becomes a habit,” Capalad says. To keep it from becoming routine, she recommends taking an alternative approach: Only take a car service one way. “If you're running late, take a cab there, but take public transportation back. That's cutting your cab budget in half without having to do anything that different,” she adds. The key here is practicing self-control and planning your night in advance. Once you've got it down, you'll wonder why you didn't always ride this way.
5 of 7
Designed by Hannah Minn.
Take a pause and ask yourself, “why?”

No matter what, we always buy more than we need when running errands. We might go in with the intention of just picking up deodorant, but before we know it, our basket is filled with $50 of “necessities.” To avoid the inevitable, take a moment to pause and ask yourself why you’re making the purchase. “Go ahead and buy it if you still want to,” Capalad says. “But if it changes how you're looking at the things in your hands, then maybe put some items back. It's more about building awareness than anything.”
6 of 7
Designed by Hannah Minn.
Don't let coupons determine your purchases.

Coupons and sales are the double-edged sword of shopping. While it looks like you’re saving money and gaining a “cheap” find, there’s a really good chance that the reason you’re spending money is only because of the discount. “If you use a coupon or a sale as a driver for why you're spending money, then I would reexamine what's actually going on,” Capalad says. Don’t make the purchase if what you’re buying is something you wouldn’t ordinarily buy in the first place. If you're really itching to make the purchase, the coupon and sale will likely still be around in a week or two.
7 of 7
Designed by Hannah Minn.
Do a checkup every few months.

Unfortunately, your budget isn’t something you can set and forget. Be sure to continuously check in with yourself and adjust for any lifestyle changes or new income. If you got a raise or have a new side hustle, “make sure that you're deliberate with what happens to that money. It doesn't have to go to savings, but maybe you can use it [elsewhere],” she says. “It’s the way to make sure that you continue to spend money on the things that you care about. And ultimately, that's what we're all trying to do. Money is not the end. Money is the means to the end.”

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series