Nine Year Mortgage Says, “Stop Making Excuses and Take your Lunch to Work (and save $1500/year)”
Nine Year Mortgage Clients Live within their Incomes
Recently, several Nine Year Mortgage clients wanted to learn some steps they could take to be able to live within their income. Each client was spending between $100 and $200 each month more than they earned. As I examined their monthly budgets, I noticed in both cases they had allocated over two hundred dollars a month for “work lunches”. For a normal 20-day work week, that is about $10 every day.
For people trying to cut costs, save money, or reduce debt, packing a lunch is an easy way to find money and balance your budget. Most people have a myriad of reasons way they can’t take a lunch to work. Some of them are probably legitimate but most of them can be overcome if the desire to balance your budget is strong enough.
Here are some of the common excuses we have discussed with our Nine Year Mortgage clients:
My first thought would be to get up 15 minutes earlier because it will only take about that much time to prepare your lunch. It’s even better if you prepare a little extra food for dinner, because you can make your lunch for the following day after each evening meal. This can be done when you are cleaning up after dinner. Simply prepare an individual serving from the remaining food for lunch the following day. Dried fruit, crackers, yogurt, cheese sticks, real fruit and cut up veggies can be used as little side dishes to your lunch. Forget about needing a soda or juice for lunch, since we are trying to balance our budget. When I first considered drinking water instead of a soda or juice with my lunch, I thought I was going to feel deprived, but after a few weeks it became a habit and I have not looked back. The best part of packing your own lunch is it’s almost always healthier than the food you would have purchased from a restaurant, so you save money and improve your physical well being.
Excuse #2: I just don’t like packing lunches.
There are days when I don’t like to pack a lunch so I pull out a frozen meal from the freezer. Until I started to look for sales I didn’t realize that most of the pot pies or small meals can be purchased for less than one dollar. In fact, on occasion I have purchased them for only fifty eight cents. This way you don’t have to drive somewhere to get a Value Meal at a fast food joint, which again, I promise will be less healthy.
Excuse #3: My workplace does not have a microwave or fridge.
You can always take wonderful meals to work that do not require the microwave or fridge! A sandwich is quick and easy to prepare. If you hate soggy sandwiches then pack each individual component separately in a plastic container and assemble the sandwich at work. Salads are very healthy and do not require microwaving. Put an ice pack in your lunch container and the salad will be cool for your lunch.
Over the course of a year, it’s amazing how much money people spend on work lunches. In discussions with our Nine Year Mortgage clients, we have found that if you go to a fast food restaurant, especially if you get a drink, chances are you’re going to spend between $6 and $10 a day, which adds up to between $1,500 and $2,500 per year. If you go someplace a little more upscale, you can expect to pay $12 to $20 per day, which adds up to $3,000 to $5,000 per year. Even if you only go out to lunch every other day, you are probably spending at least $1000/year, especially if you buy something on the way to work or on the way home.
Now, let’s see how much it’ll cost for you to bring your lunch instead:
- Sandwich = Less than $1.00, including bread, lunch meat, etc.
- Banana = Less than $.25
- Apple = Less than $.35
- Peanut butter crackers = Less than $.35
This lunch, which does a good job of holding me over, costs about $2 to make. If I use leftovers or a frozen meal it would even be less than $2. Over the course of a year, with 250 working days, I will spend about $500 for lunches that I bring from home.
Compared to the fast-food average of $2,000 a year, this is a savings of $1500. If I check it against the upscale choice, I am saving three or four thousand dollars a year.
When presented with this evidence, is there any question that bringing your lunch to work will save you a lot of money? Our Nine Year Mortgage clients find that this simple step, even if practiced every other day, is one of the easiest ways to save money in a budget.
As an added bonus, you don’t have to waste time and money driving back and forth between the office and where you get the food. Plus, you’re probably going to end up eating healthier if you bring your own food from home as opposed to going out.
Nine Year Mortgage has an office motto for lunch savings. It goes like this: while it may be true that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t get a cheap lunch!
Once our clients see how this simple change in their spending habits, if consistently applied, can result in real savings, they are eager to learn new ways to save. If our clients that are budgeting $200 for work lunches can cut back to $50, then they still have some leeway for special occasions, but they also have $150 in their pockets.
With just a couple of more cost saving changes in their spending habits, these clients will soon have a balanced budget, and be able to start putting money away for an emergency fund and increase their contributions towards retirement.
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