Have you ever felt that money is not enough for you? Don’t you know where you lose so much money every month? Probably if you have had this feeling, you are being a victim of ant expenses. Ant expenses, just like when we see an ant with respect to an anthill, are small when they look alone, but when they put all the anthill together, we can panic.
Thus, ant expenses alone seem harmless. But when you add up all those small expenses that we make we realize that they are much more than we expect. In addition, these expenses greatly affect our budget and can sabotage our personal and financial goals.
Good personal finances start with a good knowledge and control of our personal expenses. Raising awareness that there are no minor expenses, and less if they are done regularly, will help us improve our finances. That is why Gustavo Mirabal Castro wants us to know everything necessary to manage ant expenses as experts.
Therefore, today we will talk about ant expenses, what they are and how to eliminate them, or failing that, how to reduce them. Without further ado, let’s get started.
What are ant expenses?
By definition, ant expenses are small expenses, unrepresentative and that do not attract attention, but that are very frequent. Ant expenses are present in our day to day, but because they are so small, or so routine, we do not pay attention to them.
Ant expenses could become “invisible” to our attempts to control our budget. Only if we begin to pay attention to our recurring habits and begin to record even our small expenses, we can realize their impact.
That is why we need a strategy to be able to identify them and achieve a full financial awareness. Next, we will look at some of the characteristics of ant expenses.
Characteristics of ant expenses
Ant expenses are very small, but they are made every day or very often. This causes them to accumulate without hardly perceiving them. An example of this is the cost of a coffee in our lives, a coffee on arrival and a coffee after lunch in the office.
In Mexico a coffee costs approximately $ 0.75 and in Chile $ 1 approximately. Making a conservative estimate and assuming the price of $ 0.75 per cup of coffee. This price is more or less similar in all Latin American countries (Colombia, Venezuela, etc.).
Considering this scenario, only on cups of coffee and considering only 2 cups of coffee we would spend $30 on coffee alone. This results in 12.5% of the minimum wage in Colombia and 11.6% of the minimum wage in Mexico in 2022.
As we can see, ant expenses can be very representative, especially for those who earn the least.
In addition, a person may have various concepts of ant expenses. Among these concepts we can find alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, sweets, among others.
How to identify ant expenses?
Ant expenses have a very definite pattern in our lives. Some characteristics that can help us recognize them are:
- They seem to be amounts of money that are not significant if we see each purchase individually.
- They are expenses with high periodicity (daily, interdaily or weekly). This causes that despite being small amounts, they become an important amount when added in time.
- Generally, in this category are the “small vices” such as alcohol and tobacco. For this reason, they can also damage our health and cause additional health expenses.
- It is an expense that can become a saving if we do not do it.
- We can always choose not to do them. Failing that, we can exchange them for others that are healthier or that bring us some benefit. For example, we can change the expenditure on sweets for more proteins or fruits.
- It is an expense that is usually impulsive and compulsive.
- When they accumulate, they can represent between 10% and 20% of our income.
Some of these expenses can be:
- Street food or food delivery.
- Coffees, sodas, or energy drinks that we buy daily.
- Lunches on the street on normal days.
- Meals or meetings with friends
- Tobacco, alcohol, or knickknacks every day.
- Tips or charity without control or budget.
- Transfer fees, interest payments for paying with credit cards out of time.
- Costs for reconnection of services, commissions, or interest for late payment.
- Subscriptions you don’t use but you still pay.
- Any impulse purchase. These invite us to buy things that we do not need or that we can find at a better price.
- Buy an expensive brand, without this representing a substantial improvement in the quality of the product.
We don’t realize it, but it’s a pretty big expense at the end of the month.
How to reduce ant expenses?
The first thing we must learn to attack ant expenses is to buy in a planned way. When we plan our purchases, we will prioritize our needs over our impulses.
We can evaluate which are our priority expenses, compared to those that are not. In addition, we can deal with expenses with a cool head and replace some purchase options with cheaper options.
In this way we can choose how we want to manage our finances. These are the basic actions we recommend avoiding ant expenses.
Keep an app or notebook that allows you to take note of any minor expenses. It doesn’t matter if it’s a coffee or a knick-knack, it’s important to write them down. By writing them down you will keep aware of all the times you make impulsive expenses and that will make you rethink them. In this way you will begin to become aware and notice of all those expenses that you make and do not perceive.
Evaluate and compare expenses
Evaluate which of these expenses begin to weigh on your budget and that you can eliminate. Contrast this with your financial and personal goals. Is street coffee every day compatible with your savings purposes? How much can I save if instead of having coffee on the street I drink it at home before leaving?
In this way we will be more aware. We can begin to evaluate what we want to do with our money.
Make decisions and act accordingly.
Repeated actions lead to habits. In the same way that you got used to buying cigarettes or a coffee on the street every day you can create new, healthier habits for your body and your pocket.
Find a way to drink coffee at home and reduce the coffee you consume. The less coffee you consume overall, the less need you will feel to drink coffee. In addition, you will reduce the excitability produced by coffee intake frequently, which will reduce your stress and free radicals, improving your health.
Stick to the plan
When you go to make household purchases, keep a shopping list, and stick to what is written down. In this way you will be obliged to budget all the expenses you have.
If your plan includes your health, then try to include only healthy things on the shopping list or failing that minimize processed foods and knickknacks.
You resisted the imposition of buying things that are not planned. If you really need something, write it down and when you are at home meditate if you should really include it in the next shopping list.
Avoid eating out. If you can, prepare food at home. Street food is less healthy and will also increase your expenses. Also, if you are going out to do errands, eat well before leaving so you do not have to spend on food on the street.
An important step after taking an expense inventory is to do the following:
- Select the service plans that fit your need. Don’t hire phone plans with minutes you don’t use just because they’re on offer.
- Eliminate or establish the reduction of the frequency of your healthy habits with well-defined limits. From smoking 3 times a day to once, from eating treats every day to 3 times a week.
- Delete subscriptions that you don’t use or use very infrequently. With this you will save, and you can also hire it when you need it. This applies to streaming subscription services.
- Purchase with a list in hand and after having compared the expenses. This way you will lessen the temptation to buy on impulse.
- Buy what you need to prepare your work lunch easily and take it from home. This way you will remove the temptation to eat out. A street meal doesn’t compare to a good home-cooked meal.
After consolidating these changes, set rewards for yourself. For example, if you take food from home every day, you can define one day a month to eat out if you reach your goal. Turning your ant spending into a conscious reward can make you happier, healthier, and financially independent.
A list of ant expenses that you should review in your daily life
- Eating out or out of your home: Eating out is at least twice as expensive as eating at home. If you do it frequently, you are doubling the food budget. There are cases in which spending can be tripled or quadrupled. You can make exceptions but cooking at home most of the time will free up money that you can consciously invest.
- Bank commissions: Many times, we can end up paying more bank commissions than necessary. Withdrawing money from an ATM that is not from our bank or making payments outside the due date are the most common. If you are one of those who do not pay attention to this, review it and you will realize an opportunity to plan better and save.
- Too many subscription services: If you have many subscription services to watch TV, listen to music or read books you should consider if you have time to use them all in the month. Otherwise, you could switch between different platforms for best of all, distraction, and low costs. You can wait until your favorite series is released and complete to hire the service and watch it whenever you want. Only you will know what the perfect balance is, but if one or more platforms you stop seeing them for an entire month, it is not necessary.
- Branded products: In many cases the brand is synonymous with quality. However, there are times when the mark only means status. We suggest you look for good quality non-branded products so you can make efficient use of your money.
Some day-to-day ant expenses you should pay attention to
- Transportation and gasoline expenses: There are always ways to save money on transportation. From walking, the use of the bicycle or making a good planning of the outings is a great option. If we plan well, we can save gas and time in our transfers. In addition, if we use public transport, we help the environment too.
- Vices: Cigarettes, coffee and alcohol can represent a large monthly and annual expense. If we can at least decrease the frequency, we will see a significant improvement in our finances and in our pocketbooks.
- Fake offers: A real offer is when we get something we need at a better price. But what if the price was increased and then offered a 60% discount. What if it’s a real offer but we don’t need the product. We must know how to buy and compare prices to make our money work.
- Unplanned purchases: When we go without a shopping list, we end up buying things that were not in the plan. Whenever we can, let’s use a list to restrict our desire to buy more. In this way we will avoid impulse purchases and we will have a better management of our personal finances.
- Night outings: If the party nights are many, we will not leave money for our day to day. That is why we suggest limiting departures, either day or night, to avoid going out of our budget. It is good that we have a limited budget for departures, this way we can limit what we spend and have a little more control. When the budget is exhausted, we leave the next exit for the next month.
Enhance your knowledge about expenses looking to the future.
Do you feel that by eliminating ant expenses you eliminate part of your happiness? If you’ve become addicted to certain “habits” you may want to consider that level of attachment. Attachment to things that hurt us and that are an obstacle to achieving what we truly desire. That’s the difference between seeking short-term desire satisfaction or long-term desire fulfillment.
Some studies associate success with people who have the emotional intelligence to postpone the immediate satisfaction of their desires. In this way these people can prioritize not only the options they have immediately, but the long-term goals.
It’s like that person who buys a lot of appliances, furniture, and vehicles, but still lives rented. A person who wants to achieve success should know that saving that money can help him to achieve his own home that will then help him make large savings in terms of rent.
This is how a person with great emotional intelligence has a greater chance of success. So, managing your ant expenses can be a way to raise your emotional intelligence and with it your chances of success in life.
Find your own way between expenses and your new habits.
Eliminating ant expenses is a challenge. Sometimes we will have to give up things we took for granted like a coffee after lunch. We can also choose to reduce some ant expenses and leave others. The important thing is that each decision is conscious and allows us to create new habits.
The new habits we create should help us achieve our personal and financial goals. In addition, they will have the positive effect of influencing our health if we improve our eating habits and leave some vices.
Eliminating these vices will also help us to have better health and will affect the reduction of medical expenses and medicines. In addition, we will be able to better link with our environment and with ourselves.
Gustavo Mirabal Castro encourages us to take the path of financial self-knowledge to help us achieve our dreams.