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It’s not just your calories you’re underestimating

How many calories do you think you eat and drink each day? Well, add on 1,000. A new study tells us we’re massively under-reporting our daily consumption, guessing 2,000 rather than a hefty 3,000.

And this isn’t the only number you’re probably guessing wrong. It’s likely you’re spending much more money than you think each day – this could be the reason for your shrinking wallet.

Even if you believe you know what you spend, there’s a good chance you’re forgetting some of the smaller purchases you make every day. These might seem inconsequential, but they can quickly add up.

Your invisible spending

Most of us have something we buy every or most days, possibly even more than once a day. It could be a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar. Or it could be spending on things like public transport or grabbing lunch.

The fact that these are everyday purchases can make them seem invisible – you just don’t register you’ve spent money on them, it’s  become second nature,a habit.

The little things adding up

Let’s take a flat white coffee. It usually costs around £2.50, and if you have one every working day during the month, you’ll be spending close to £55.

Over a year it adds up to more than £650. You’d certainly notice it if someone asked you for this in one go, but bit by bit it’s easy to miss.

How much do you really spend?

Here’s my challenge. First, write down how much you think you spend in an average week. Just take a figure off the top of your head.

Then, ask for a receipt for everything you buy this week. Come Sunday, add up in your head what you think you’ve spent. Compare this to your expected total.

Then take a look at the receipts – don’t forget online purchases – and add up what you really spent.

You’ll know now just how much invisible spending you are guilty of.

Deciding whether your spending is worth it

If you’re surprised by how much you’re spending without realising, the question to ask is whether you’re happy to keep spending it.

Taking the earlier coffee example, £650 is a decent chunk of cash which could help you afford things otherwise out of reach – a holiday, a deposit for a home, even clearing a credit card debt.

No one wants to go without their treats – they often help the day go by – so maybe it’s a question of looking for cheaper alternatives.

Chocolate bars can often be bought cheaper in multipacks from the supermarket than the staff canteen. Replacing half your shop-bought coffees with one from the coffee machine at work will give you a caffeine hit, without completely sacrificing taste.

Sunny weather can make a walk to work a viable option rather than getting a bus – which in turn would leave more money in your pocket than hailing a taxi.

It all depends on your lifestyle, but it’s certainly worth considering how else you could use the cash.

And of course an added bonus of cutting back could also be to reduce your calorie intake. With so many of the invisible spending on treats, you'll hopefully be losing pounds (lb) as you gain pounds (£).

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