Morning Money Traps

6:30 a.m.

The Spending Trap: Your alarm goes off and you’re ready to get to your morning spin class … that is, until you hit the snooze button. Suddenly, the three-times-a-week commitment you made to yourself ends up being more like 4.3 times per month—which is how many times someone who pays a flat monthly gym membership actually goes to the gym, according to one survey.

If you pay $70 a month, that means you’re forking over about $17 per class—not quite the bargain you expected when you got that all-access gym pass.

How to Subvert It: Even if your body still wants to slumber, turns out your mind may be most focused—and happiest!—in the morning. So if you’re not going to hit the stationary bike, do a money-related chore that requires you to be alert instead, like paying bills or balancing your checkbook.

And while you’re at it, look into a gym membership that better reflects your reality. For instance, if you buy a bunch of classes at $10 a pop, you’d save about $600 a year.


If you’re like the average American, you’re spending more than $20 a week on that caffeine fix—which comes out to more than $1,000 per year.

8:30 a.m.

The Spending Trap: On the walk to work, you stop by the corner coffee shop just a few blocks from your office and grab the dark roast you need to jump-start your day.

If you’re like the average American, you’re spending more than $20 a week on that caffeine fix—which comes out to more than $1,000 per year.

How to Subvert It: Instead of buying from the barista every day, invest in a bag of a higher-quality blend and vow to brew at home (plus, you’ll get to use that travel mug you got for Christmas last year). Now you’re going from about $4 a day to just 14 cents a serving!

11:30 a.m.

The Spending Trap: As you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed during your morning break, you get a text from your cell phone company alerting you that you’re about to go over your data allotment for the month—and you’re going to be charged $15 to stock up automatically. This happens almost every month, even though you always promise yourself that you’re going to use your phone less.

How to Subvert It: Since deleting your Instagram isn’t an option, when you’re back at your desk, take a few minutes to log into your mobile account and explore what other options exist for data. If you can get another gigabyte for $5 extra, you’ll actually be saving yourself $10 a month, or $120 a year.

And while you’re at it, jot down other monthly costs that you could shave down, so you can research alternatives for them over the weekend.

“I like to encourage people to take some time every Saturday to correct one structural thing in their life, whether it’s moving cell phone plans, or calling up the cable company to say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for something cheaper,’ ” Wallaert says. “Carving out the time to actually do those macro things is really important.”