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money health weekly

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Mindful Spending


we spend more when we aren't aware of our spending

❝Beware of little expenses: a small leak will sink a great ship.❞ -Benjamin Franklin

As we walk into the restaurant, it feels cold. It's hot outside, and the humidity is thick, so the sandwich shop has its air conditioning on high. It's 1995, and my friend and I are getting some lunch. Since he paid last time, I'm picking up the tab today. When it comes time to pay, the cashier tells me that I owe $6.23. I reach in my pocket, and I pull out a $5 bill and lay it on the counter. I look to see if I have any $1 bills, and I don't find any, so I have to pull out another $5 bill. I happen to have a quarter in my pocket that I give to the cashier so that I can get 2 pennies back instead of a bunch of change. The cashier gives me my two pennies along with four $1 bills. After I put my change away, my friend and I eat our lunch before enjoying the rest of the day.


Five years later, I go into the same store on my way to class for a quick bite. When it comes time to pay, I'm told I owe $4.25. I don't have any cash on me, but I do have my checkbook. I pull up my checkbook, and after writing the date and the restaurant's name, I write “4.25” in the box, followed by “four and 25/100” in the line below it. Then I write “4.25” again in the register to keep track of my balance. The cashier accepts the check, I eat my lunch, and I head to class.


Five years later, I go into the same store while I'm in town visiting my family. I order my sandwich, and when I get to the cashier, I give her my card, and she gives me the slip to sign with the total on it. I glanced at it, and it was $5 and change. I sign it, she gives me my receipt and my sandwich, and I go about my day.


Five years later, I go into the same store with my brother. After ordering my sandwich, I give my card to the cashier and grab my sandwich. I don't sign anything, and I don't get a receipt.


Five years later, I have an app on my phone to order from the sandwich shop. Instead of going to the store, I pick up my phone, tap a couple of buttons, and in about 30 minutes, the sandwich arrives at my door.


In 1995, I knew exactly how much I was paying for that sandwich. I had to count my money and hand it over to somebody who then gave me different money back. 20 years later, when I ordered the exact same sandwich, I couldn't tell you at all how much I paid.


That's not an accident.