What’s your poison? - MoneySense

What’s your poison?

Take time to pore over your budget and cut down a pricey habit.


I’m a big fan of the days right after Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween. If there’s one thing that makes me gleeful, it’s seeing expensive chocolate on sale by about 50%. It only happens a few times a year, but I bounce out of bed early to stop by a Shoppers Drug Mart to snatch up the dark mint chocolate I’d been eyeing all winter. (I admit, on some occasions there may be some skipping involved.)

Junk food and coffee are my vices. At home, I had a cupboard filled with Lindt and Laura Secord chocolate, along with an assortment of fruit candies. At my old workplace, I had a large drawer filled to the brim with goodies that would shock coworkers whenever I’d open it.

Coffee, well, in my mind a cup of joe keeps the doctor away. But those little nuggets of sugar were too sweet for my finances.

I’ve taken on the challenge of cutting down my food budget by 15%. In calculating my average monthly food spending, I discovered that in some months — like right after the holidays — my sugar splurges could cost up to $75 a month. That’s about half the price of an iPod nano to replace the one I recently lost.

What’s worse is that I wouldn’t eat it all. My cupboard is stuffed with snacks that accumulate thanks to my frequent cravings for junk food.

In figuring out where to save money, I knew seeing less of Mr. Big, Oh Henry and Tim Hortons were a good place to start. But that’s not to say I’ve gone cold turkey and completely cut those habits out of my life. I’ve just found ways to make them cost less.

I went hunting for a small French press and picked one up for $20 at Canadian Tire. A stop to the grocery store wielded a small bag of coffee and half-and-half cream for $8, both of which last for about two weeks.

As for junk food, it’s just a matter of eating less of it and having it last longer. (If anything, that’s probably better for my health.) That, and I’m slowly but surely making headway in clearing space in my kitchen cupboard.

In budget cleansing, it’s common that the devil is in the small purchases. It’s just a matter of weeding them out and cutting them down.