Thursday, February 14, 2008

Take Your Lunch to Work

We estimate the average cost to go out to lunch in most major cities costs anywhere from $9-$13. In contrast, the cost to bring a lunch to work will most likely cost you around $2-$4. This simple decision if turned into a habit has the potential to save you $11/day (cost of a haircut) $55/week (cost to take your wife to dinner) $220/month (cost of your electricity bill) or $2,640/year (down payment on a car), I will stop there but you get the point. If you want to start changing your daily spending habits for the better, this is a great place to start...

The financial benefits of bringing a lunch to work for most is common sense, but the reality is that most people just simply don't do it. For many the issue is time, but with a little planning time should not be a factor. I have found that buying groceries at the beginning of each week puts me in a position to plan all of my lunches for the week. I try to make a few dinners at night each week that will produce leftovers that can easily be heated in the microwave, the next day. The remainder of the days I usually bring a couple sandwiches (that can be made the night before) pre-made salads, fruit, yogurt etc. All of these are very simple easy to make lunches that will put more money in your pockets. Fortunately, for me, my wife packs my lunch every morning as long as I do the grocery shopping, a deal that allows me to sleep in and ensure I'm getting the best deals at the store!


Mix it up. We have found the best way to mix up your lunches for the week is to start shopping the sales. This is a great way to make your lunches even cheaper while avoiding the same old thing everyday. Every Sunday when I make my weekly trip to Safeway, I browse the specials and base my meals off them. If ham is $2 off than ham sandwiches it is, if tuna is buy one get one free then I'm going fishing. You may be thinking, "saving a couple dollars here and there will not add up to much.” I can say through experience that shopping with a savers mentality can not only lower your expenses but also change the way you approach spending in all aspects of
your life.

Leave the Office
If you are like many in the office I work in, people go out to eat because they want to leave the office for a while. This is very understandable, as I leave the office everyday for lunch to workout. I just eat at my desk when I'm finished. It's healthy to leave the office and get away for a while, most employers encourage it. You have to figure out a way to work in your lunch and get into a routine. Once you fall into a routine you won’t think twice about going out to eat instead of bring your own lunch. In fact, now when I occasionally go out to eat for work related reasons, I enjoy it even more.

Pressure from Coworkers
Everyone works with a coworker that tries to get everyone in the office to go out to lunch with them. I feel like these people not only want the company but the company helps justify their spending. Let’s face it, eating is traditionally a social event and will always be. For many, it’s hard to tell coworkers that you will pass on their offer of Subway and eat your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We have found that a good way of dealing with these over spenders (or perhaps bosses that make more money than you do) is to continually say, "No thanks." After a couple days they will understand that you bring your lunch and trust me, they will be ok with it. Often times you will inspire your coworkers to bring their own lunch as well and you can start trading items like you did in elementary school.

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