… Your Meals Aren’t Actually Costing you Retirement
One of the best things about working in the city is that there’s a ton of great restaurants and dining areas surrounding me. Delicious grass-fed burgers, fresh sushi with ingredients containing locally caught fish, all organic vegan sandwiches, and probably my favorite, the local McDonald’s joint with its piping hot fries and juicy McPick 2 for $5 deals.
When you’re working in corporate, chances are, you’ve got a lot going on with crazy deadlines and overly demanding customers. A good way to start your day is with a cup of coffee. Then, lunch time rolls around and you’re either interested in ordering from Peach or going downstairs to the Italian joint to pick up a box of pasta. What you don’t realize is, on top of spending $3.50 for your cup of daily Joe, you are also paying more than $12 for your lunch meal. Every. Day.
Let’s say on average you work 250 days of the year. Let’s also say your lunch on average is $12. If you were to buy lunch every work day for $12, you would spend $3,000 a year. If lunch was on average $14, that cranks you up to $3,500 a year. What about that morning cup of Joe for $3.50 a cup? $875.
What’s crazy is that the people that work around me do this everyday. Actually, some of them will have two cups of coffee everyday (their morning cup as they walk into the office and another after lunch). Some of my colleagues buy their lunches everyday as it is easier to get take out, come back to their desk, and finish on what they were working on.
At 3 years, you have spent $9,000 on lunch meals. If you think a cup of coffee a day or two is why you are living paycheck to paycheck or not being able to save money… You are wrong. That is not the complete reason, it is only partial. It is not even the lunch meal. It’s your spending habit. If you are not realizing how a cup of coffee or even a lunch-a-day is impacting your ability to save money, it is because you need to work on your spending.
I mean, wouldn’t it be GREAT to put $3,000 away into savings? Whether you want to use it for retirement, an emergency fund, or to save up for a car or a house… That is $3,000 more. But you can’t get there if you are buying take-out everyday.
Now stepping back, let’s look at the bigger picture. Of course, I am not saying don’t get takeout or buy lunch, ever. I mean, even I find myself buying lunch a few times a month at work! The point is, something as “small” as buying lunch can add up quickly. After all, if you look at your bank statement, you’re not just spending money on lunches and coffees. You’re buying all sorts of things everyday. The best way to get in control of your spending is to… Review it! And then, find areas to trim from.
- Review your spending habit. Duh! Divide your costs into categories to figure out where you are spending the most of your money. Plus, you can figure out what the crazy costs are and see if there are ways to trim your spending.
- Find alternatives. For example, if your biggest spending area is food, can you make your own cup of coffee? Can you pack your own lunch?
- Are you paying for what you aren’t using? Do you really need that gym, Netflix, HBO, Spotify or World of Warcraft membership?
- Pay in cash. If swiping a plastic card makes buying things easy for you, how about switching to cash instead? Give yourself a budget by having a certain amount of cash every week or month to spend and try not to resort to using your card.