When I left college and got married, my wife and I were both making pretty decent money. Since we were so lucky to be blessed with some amazing friends who allowed us to pay a killer rent price (man I would long for those payments again) and since my wife made it through college with only $8k in debt, we often did not pack our lunches. Instead, we just ate out at lunch, and let’s be honest, most breakfast and dinners as well!
Check out how I paid off my college debt while still in college, here.
When we first started talking about having kids and buying a place of our own, I remember us sitting down and doing the budget. Up until then, the budget really just consisted of us knowing how much we brought in, how much the bills cost us, and what was left over for fun.
(Side note: I still prefer to budget this way when we are not trying to pay off debt or save aggressively for something. I do not suggest this for everyone though as a physical budget is the only way to get started and pay off that debt!)
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Our food bill was $800/month!
Let’s just step back a second and think about that! HOLY MOTHERS! We both had a “coming to Jesus” moment and said we had to get this under control!
We could have…
So I came across this article on one of the finance blogs I follow, MoneyCrashers, that asked how much you could save by just packing your lunch instead of buying out!
Well, I think it’s safe to say, if we didn’t change our habits, we could have funded the following (keep in mind we were eating out almost every meal):
- A year’s worth of living in a super nice house!
- Flying Around the World
- Buying A Car
- Doing boring adult stuff like home improvements/paying off debt
Since then, we have changed our habits. But let’s break down how much a typical person spends on lunches/breakfast and see what we could pay for!
If I Were To Eat Out Each Day (Not Including my Wife)
Since I am a morning person, and do my best blog writing in a coffee shop, I get a first hand experience of how crazy people can be when it comes to their morning coffee!
I see the same people every morning, and since I sit near the front, I hear how much their bills are. On average it seems to be almost $4 a visit. That is crazy!
Since one of my best friends works in coffee and I frequently write in a coffee shop, I asked and figured out that their markups are generally 40% – 70%!
You could buy a pack of nice K-cups for your Keurig and make coffee at home each morning for less than $0.35/day! Even if you throw in a nice new Keurig, your still under $0.75/day
But this is just coffee. Maybe you stop at McDonald’s most mornings and, let’s say, get 2 sausage and egg burritos for $2.14. Compare this to a homemade breakfast burrito for less than $0.50!
Saving’s From Making Your Own:
Coffee: $0.35 (x) 5 days = $7/month or $84/year
Coffee + Breakfast: $0.35 + $0.50 = $17/month or $204/year
Eating Lunch Out
If you are eating out and trying to go cheap, it is still going to cost you around $3-$5 (and this probably isn’t the healthiest option there is- especially if you are eating out each day)! Let’s look at some options:
- Getting something quick by picking it up from a local McDonald’s is going to cost you at least $2-5 a meal. If you are wanting to go “healthy” at McDonald’s, your going to be paying around $5-$8.
- If you stop by a healthier fast food option or a deli, the average for soup, salad or a sandwich is going to be around $7-$10 a meal.
- Eating out with co-workers for a birthday or celebration is going to average about $10-$15 a meal.
This can get expensive fast if you are spending this each day!
Packing A Lunch
You would be surprised how often I hear from people that they hate spending the extra time packing their lunch. Or many people have said that there is nothing fun to eat in their house.
For the people who say they don’t have time to pack a lunch, don’t watch that extra 15 minute TV show at night. Instead, have your kids help you pack all your lunches for the next day! This way you are not tempted to change your plans when you are exhausted in the morning!
For those who think they have nothing fun at home to eat, do meal planning and make your favorite meals for supper. Then, pack the left-overs a day or two later! This saves time and money. Plus, you are eating your favorite foods anyway!
If cooking a big meal at night isn’t your thing, make some of your favorite foods on the weekend and pack them for your lunches throughout the week!
Most lunches could be cut down to under $3/day for everything if it is planned out and prepared!
While there are a few downsides to packing a lunch, such as not being able to go out for a bite with co-workers or it could get stolen in the fridge at work, it can often times be healthier and WAY cheaper!
Saving’s From Making Your Own:
Packing a lunch for a month: $40 – $200
Packing a lunch for a year: $480 – $2,400
THAT IS SAVINGS GUYS!
If You’re Eating Out Every Day
I have a problem when I talk to people who eat out of most days but still have no money to pay their debts or have to put that next vacation on a credit card!
If you made some simple cut backs, there could be some massive savings each year! And these savings could be used to pay off that debt or go for a vacation!
While eating out in and of itself is not bad, it can become a habit that costs us a good amount of money! Please don’t hear me saying that you should never eat out as going cold turkey is hard and having a treat every now and then is fine, but you have to use moderation!
So thanks Maurie from Money Crashers for writing that article that opened up my eyes to my own spending!
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