Top ten money drains

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Did you pick up a cup of coffee this morning, or stop by the vending machine for a break at work? If so, you might be working against your savings account.  And in this economy, every little bit counts.

We've put together a list of the Top 10 Money Drains, those little purchases that add up to a big drain on your savings. Here's a look at the list, and what you can do to save some cash.

10. Expensive Salons
9. National Brands
8. Weekday Lunches Out
7. Bundle Up!  TV, Cable, & Phone Service
6. Individual Portion Sizes
5. Alcohol
4. Cigarettes
3. Coffee
2. Vending Machines
1. Bottled Water

So how can you save money?  Instead of visiting your normal salon, try a cosmetology school. The prices are much lower. Sure, the students are just learning and may take a little longer to perform a haircut or coloring service, but there are professors watching over the room, on hand to intercept any mistakes.

Instead of relying on National Brands, buying the store brand will usually save you a few bucks. Most products usually contain the same ingredients, and your family won't even notice the taste difference.

Weekday lunches out is an easy one to save money on: pack a lunch. Estimates show about $9 will get you a decent lunch. If you buy rather than pack, you're shelling out about $2,350 per year. Tell your co-workers you'd love to catch up with them over lunch, but it'll have to be in the break room, not the taproom.

Life's little extra's. Not cable - that's not even considered an extra anymore. But what about DVR and premium cable channels? Some people even have a landline and a cell phone these days.

The best way to save? Bundle up the services. Most companies are offering big discounts if you combine TV, cable, and telephone service.

Individual portion sizes are a big drain on your savings. Those little yogurt packs, pre-cut veggies and lunch size chips? They all cost more than simply buying in bulk and cutting it up yourself.  Sure it takes a little work, but the time you spend is money you'll save.

Alcohol, coffee and cigarettes are all big drains on your savings, and could all be daily habits of some people. If you want to grab a drink with friends, try hitting a happy hour.  You can usually save 50 percent off your bill just by visiting during those few hours.

If you need a morning cup of joe, get into the habit of brewing your own. That $2-$3 you're dropping at the coffee shop each morning are like watching your savings go down the drain.

Cigarettes can be an addicting habit, but it's as good a time as any to kick the habit. Recently, major tobacco companies raised their prices by at 40 cents per pack. Add to that the new federal tobacco tax of 62 cents and the proposed statewide 50 cent tax, and you're paying more than $1.50 per pack, just in taxes.

The last two culprits: vending machines and bottled water, and both can usually be found somewhere at your work when you're most vulnerable to giving in. When it comes to vending machines, if you put $1 in every day, you'll waste more than $200 per year on what is usually an unhealthy snack. And at $1 a bottle, you'll pay $12 for a standard case of water - a standard case that usually retails for $3-$4.

Economist Dr. Donald Schunk says when it comes to saving; you need to look at the big picture.  The idea is to try and maintain the same lifestyle you have by spending less.