Cost Savings Series: 2—Bring Your Lunch

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compound interest, saving habits, i love compound interestIf you read the last blog post about eating out for dinner less, then you had to be expecting this post where I discuss the cost saving habit of bringing your lunch. Just like I proposed on the last post, I’m not telling you to stop eating out altogether, but if you regularly eat out, then it has great potential to be a money saving option for you to explore if you can reduce it. Again, how much you want to reduce/save is up to you and your situation.

This is a topic that I can definitely speak from experience on. I have been bringing my lunch almost every day for almost 20 years. And to top it off, I’ve been eating almost the same thing for many of those years. The ruts I can get in on my lunch choices are legendary among my office mates. My current lunch menu has been in place for about 9-10 years and counting! I don’t pretend to think that anyone will eat the exact same thing for lunch at work like I do, but I do believe that almost everyone could save some serious money (and likely save calories too) if they made a switch to eat in the office more often.

Certain lunches just make sense to go out for; meeting with a client, networking with a colleague when you need some privacy, etc. so I’m not thinking folks will just stop all eating out. I like to advocate for balance here at so go ahead and eat out at that new place, or splurge on a Friday and have some fun dining out with your co-workers.

Of course the only thing better than an inexpensive lunch you bring from home might be a free lunch. Not everyone can get a vendor to take them out or get company provided lunches every day, so let’s not count on that as a money saving strategy…but it sure is nice when you do get a free lunch!

Now for some dollars and cents. For lunch at work, let’s assume that you generally go out for some quick-service food (order at a counter and generally no server) and only occasionally go out to a restaurant where you sit down and have a server. I’ll guess that is going to cost about $5-8 per day on average. My lunch that I bring from home costs me around $1 dollar, but even if you bought a microwave entrée your cost can be maybe $2 or less if you bring left-overs from home.

For our example let’s say you are able to eat in the office 4 days a week and go out one day a week. And if you’re saving $3-5 per day by bringing your lunch, that would be $12-20 (so we’ll call it $15) per week savings. And over a month that’s $60 savings which would works out to over $720 per year (which I honestly think is a bit low, but you get the point). Take that out even further and if you kept that habit going for 20 years while saving and investing it would amount to $23,800 (if you are getting a 5% compound interest return). Go to my compound interest calculator and check out your own scenarios for lunch savings and see if getting into this habit helps you get where you want to go.

Now how does bringing your lunch sound now?

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