A fast food burger that costs much money.

Is Lunch Making You Broke?

Saving money is about all of the small things. The accumulation of a dollar here and a dollar there can really add up and lead to a tremendous savings. Likewise, out of control lunchtime spending can make your broke. Take a minute and find out how you could possibly get rich from making some clever cuts to your lunchtime sending.

All of those little expenses can add up in a hurry. Here are some little changes that you can make that can add up to big savings over the course of a year.

Switch To Water

Water is healthy and we all know that we need to drink more of it. Making the switch to water can make you feel better and if you feel better you are more productive. In addition, you will save on the cost of all that dental work to fix your cavities. This is not the cost I am referring to right now though.

If you dine out daily, you are paying anywhere from $2 for a soda at a fast food restaurant to $4 for one at a sit down joint. That is $10 to $20 a week. Doesn’t sound like much but minus vacation weeks, over the course of a standard 50 week work year, that is an easy 500, on up to 1000 dollars.

Using the power of compound interest, over 30 years at a nominal 5% growth, that could represent anywhere from 34,000 dollars to over 69,000 dollars in your pocket. All for laying off the soda.

Brown Bag Versus Fast Food

If you go the fast food route, you are easily burning $6 to $8 a day on a meal. All of that money for the pleasure of eating some very questionable and often very greasy food. Switch to the brown bag and eat for just a few dollars a day.

For the price of $2 a day, you can prepare yourself a variety of wonderful home made foods from gourmet sandwiches to salads to pasta or even rice dishes. Use some creativity and you will never get bored. For your efforts you will be rewarded with a slimmer waistline, cleaner arteries and a potential savings of $4 to $6 a day. That is $20 to $30 a week and over the same 50 week average work year, that is $1000 to $1500.

Once again, let’s look at the power of compound interest. If you invest that money, with a nominal 5% return, after 30 years you are looking at quite the haul. Anywhere from 69,000 dollars to over 104,000 dollars.

Brown Bag Versus Sit Down Restaurants

If you hit the sit down restaurants every day, you can realize some very huge savings. A typical meal is about $10 and you have to tip on top of that. With a drink, tax and a tip, $15 a day is what you are probably spending on  your lunch.

Switch to prepping your own healthy and budget friendly meals and spend just $2 a day by comparison. That is an easy savings of $13 a day or $65 a week. Multiply that out over 12 months time and you get $3250 taking out two weeks for vacation.

Doing the math, here is what you get if you had invested that money and got a return of just 5%. Over 30 years, that is $226,000 dollars. $226,722.57 to be exact. Does that make you look at that little brown bag a bit differently?

Make Small Changes

If you just can not do the brown bag thing, you can still make considerable changes to your lunch routine. Changes that can save you thousands of dollars over the course of time.

If you eat fast food, skip the super size. Your waist and your wallet don’t need it and while it is only about $1 a day, that is $250 a year. When you look at expenses over the long run, you can really see the true cost.

Also, do not be afraid to use coupons at fast food restaurants. I get a circular once a week in my mailbox with all kinds of coupons for fast food. A dollar here, a dollar there, as you know, it will add up.

If you like to go with sit down restaurants, you can make changes as well. For example skip the table service and choose a fast casual restaurant. You get the same quality of food but you no longer have to tip. That could be $2 to $3 a day which is up to $750 in a year. Hefty savings.

Be sure to also sign up for the eClubs of every restaurant that you frequent. They will give you coupons in your email or you may even be able to earn reward points for every dollar that you spend. If they are offering you discounts or cash back, who are you to turn it down.

Wrapping Up

It might seem silly to place such an emphasis on saving money at lunch but the numbers do not lie. The ability to save almost a quarter of a million dollars over the course of a 30 year career, you can’t snicker at that.

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James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.