My favorite part of the workday is lunch – mainly because I like eating. When it comes to eating lunch, I’ve always observed four types of people. The first type of person brings their own lunch virtually every day. The second type of person buys pre-made lunch that you can get at the grocery store or Starbucks everyday. The third type of person buys their lunch everyday. The group I fit into most happens to be the fourth group – people who prepare their own lunch but somehow leaves it on the kitchen counter so they are stuck buying lunch. I almost always leave my lunch on the counter at least once every two weeks so I get to watch people and their lunch habits.
There are always two observations I always make when I forget to bring my lunch:
1. Lunch is always ridiculously expensive, it’s at least $10 for something reasonable if not $15.
2. The people who always buy lunch from the grocery store or at a resturant somehow are usually the group of people who always complain about not having enough money. However, it isn’t surprising when you look at the maths.
In order to the maths, I bought a ham sandwich with kettle chips for lunch in the method that all three groups would. I first bought my lunch at a popular local sandwich shop that everyone goes to which also happens to be near a subway. The second lunch I bought was from a grocery store that people have affectionately named the Whole Paycheck.
I also bought and made a ham sandwich from the same store and this is how everything fared:
People who buy their lunches pay over $2000 extra every single year compared to people who bring their lunch from home. If you put all $2000 into your retirement you would have 40% more money than the average American at retirement! Heck, $2000 extra each year is enough to make a substantial difference in your spending habits.
Even more savings?
I went to a store known for expensive prices because it helps illustrates a point. Even when we use ridiculously overpriced food making your own lunch is much cheaper. Here’s how I came to figure out the price per sandwich:
You could possibly save even more money if you go to another grocery store than the store I went to. Other ways to save money? Avoid dairy and processed foods. The more dairy and processed foods you put into your lunch, the money quicker your money adds up. Try to stick to meat and grains which are significantly cheaper. Additional plus of not eating dairy and processed food? It’s much easier to lose weight. You’ll be richer and skinner – two big plusses.
Oh, but I save so much more time when I buy my lunch! Don’t even lie. You would have used the same amount of time making your own sandwich as you have spent waiting in line for lunch. You are coming up with excuses.
The problem comes down to this: If you’re buying your lunch than you are broke because you are too lazy. You don’t need to be particularly good at cooking either, special utensils, or even have a lot of time. Trust me, I lived on sandwiches and pizza for my entire time in undergrad. You don’t need to be particularly sophisticated or sober to make sandwiches in a short time.
Would you rather be richer than your fellow American or would you rather be average? If you prefer to be rich, than stop buying lunches. If you prefer being broke and poor, then keep buying your lunch.
Update: We received some questions on how similar this plan was to Suze Orman’s coffee plan to become a millionaire. We breakdown why the lunch plan is significantly better than Orman’s coffee plan. You can read it here.
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