Skip Lunch, Save $100k

Do you like to eat lunch out on a regular basis? And have you ever wondered how much your habit is really costing you? Well have I got a solution for you! Just hop on over to the Lunch Savings Calculator over at Plug in the typical cost of your lunches out, the cost of a bagged lunch, the frequency with which you eat out, an expected rate of return, and the timeframe over which you want to make the calculation. Here’s what I learned…

If I were to eat out every weekday from now until I retire in 30 years, and if I were to spend an average of $6.50 vs. $3.00 for packing a lunch (in truth, the former is probably low and the latter is high, but let’s just go with it) then I’ll end up spending a grand total of $25, 200 unnecessary dollars. BUT… If I were to bring a bag lunch instead, and invest the difference ($70/month) at an 8% rate of return, I’d end up with an additional $99, 233 at retirement. Not a bad little sum, and it’s all yours just for taking the time to make yourself a lunch.

Sure, you can do this sort of math with just about anything. But the point still stands… If you can manage to cut unnecessary spending and save/invest the proceeds, you can make a huge difference in your finances going forward.

10 Responses to “Skip Lunch, Save $100k”

  1. Anonymous

    I agree…It takes just a few minutes to pack a healthy, nutritious lunch and also gives you a few extra dollars in your pocket. It is a simple way to save a few dollars each month and over the course of a year can really add up.

  2. Anonymous

    I rarely eat out, can count on my hand the number of times in 1 year I go out to eat lunch. It’s too fattening, the darn stuff tastes great, but it’s way to easy to pack on the pounds, at least for me. Maybe others can get away with some thing unfattening, but the only way I control my weight is by watching what goes on my food. As is I do eat out dinner on Fri and Sat usually and I work out to keep it off, sigh.

    That and it is expensive to keep on eating out, average cost about $8/day.

  3. Anonymous

    Preparing a bagged lunch over the course of 30 years would save anyone tons on money, but that would be very unamerican. I’m sure most people (and myself included) enjoy going out to lunch and socializing with co-workers in a much more relazed setting. So I wouldn’t pack my lunch everyday because I see more benefits from buying lunch than just a fresh subway sandwich. Maybe eat out once a week and bring your lunch the remaining four days. That seems more reasonable than lugging the boring paperbag to work every day.

  4. Anonymous

    Well if you assume an 8% ROR, you only need to save $5k on two cars over your 30-year timespan, which is probably on the low side (most people buy cars more frequently than once every 15 years).

  5. Anonymous

    I agree with the writer here. By making small adjustments, you can potentially save large amounts of sums over a long time, even compared to say…saving 5k on your car. you’d have to by 20 cars over your lifetime to save what you’d save if you just packed a lunch everyday (not doing the calculations for investment return of course).

    Additionally, if it’s about health benefits, making your own sandwich is a good way to check your own health. Last I checked, a hearty whole grain bread, some delicious lean turkey breast, a few good slices of cheese, some romaine, and a smidgeon of mayo never cost nearly asmuch as even subway on a discount day. If it does, you probably need to stop buying delicate slices of unicorn procured by 15 year old elven virgins.

  6. There’s no way that making yourself a good sandwich costs anywhere near the cost of an equivalent sandwich when eating out. Buy yourself a pound of deli meat, a pound of cheese, some veggies, and a loaf of good whole grain bread. Even throw in some mayo and mustard. Then divide the cost of each of these things by the number of sandwiches that you can make.

    Let’s be generous and say that it costs you three bucks to put together a high quality sandwich of this sort. Go ahead and throw in a can of Diet Coke (25 cents/can in a 12 pack).

    Now lets now compare apples with apples, rather than choosing Subway as your point of comparison. If you went out to eat and got a comparable deli sandwich, you’d be looking at paying somewhere in the $7-$8 range, and that might or might not include the drink.

    So by making your own, you’re saving at least 50%, and as you pointed out, you’re probably getting better food.

    How exactly is this melodramatic? Go plug your numbers into the calculator that I referenced and see what you come up with.

    Given the numbers above ($8 for a good sandwich/drink in a deli, round up to $4 for bringing the same from home, 20 lunches/month, 30 years, 8% return) and you end up with a bit over $113k.

    The problem with focusing only on big purchases when trying to save money is that, for many people, the vast majority of their money goes out the door on little purchases.

  7. Anonymous

    I think you’re being too melodramatic here. I live in DC and you can get a subway footlong sandwich for $5.5 (not to mention 1/2 foot $4). I also prefer to make my own sandwitches because I use better meat/cheese/tomatoes. I calcuated it out and it’s about even. Why? The reasons (for me): deli meat and cheese is expensive and I tend to use a bit more; 2) Good vine tomatoes are expensive and not easy to store (unless you fridge them, but that looses flavor); 3) bread gets hard and goes bad by thursday/friday creating more waste.

    Obviously, you can eat cheap stuff for lunch and save $2-3 bucks, but I would rather eat healthier and higher quality food than save $2-$3/day. That amounts to 40-60/week or $480-$720/year. Decent chunk of change that I write off as my heath and balanced diet benefit. I think there are better ways to save money. Focus on the big things. Saving a small percentage of high expenses is much more preferable to saving high percentage on small expenses.

  8. Anonymous

    The cafe at my workplace is nothing to brag about. My lunch takes a few minutes to pack each day, peanutbutter and jelly, an apple, cheesestick, and granola bar. Sometimes I’ll just pack some leftovers and reheat them, but it sure beats gambling on the “employee special” of the day. Pack a lunch, it’s easy, nutritious, and saves money.

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