Don’t let eating out break your bank

Your lunch may be costing you thousands of dollars a year.

Would you like to be able to save a little more money per week, month or year? Most of was would say yes! The secret to doing so, may actually be in your lunch. Sound too good to be true? If yes, let us do the math.

If a person ate out seven days a week, at $6 per meal, they would spend $2,190 on their lunch in a year. When going through the fast food drive-thru, $6 for one meal does not sound too bad. However, when we look at the cost of this daily choice on an annual basis, it paints a very different picture. What could you do with an extra $2,190? Pay down debt, take a vacation or buy a car? The list is endless.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, I eat out, but not every single day. The question to consider is do you know how much you spend each month on fast food? If not, consider tracking your spending and then trying a spending plan. Tracking spending will allow you to see exactly what your spending habits are. Easy ways to track spending include writing down every purchase or saving every receipt for 30 days, and then adding them up. Once you see where your money is going, it’s much easier to make changes.

Then, create a spending plan or budget. This money management tool will help you balance your income, expenses and saving. There are many ways to create a spending plan, paper and pencil, template, excel spreadsheet, app, etc. Choose whatever option works best for you.

If you do discover that you were eating out for lunch more than you realized, consider visiting the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for healthy menu planning tools.

For additional money management resources visit Michigan State University Extension. Michigan State University Extension offers financial literacy and homeownership workshops throughout the year to help you become financially healthy. For more information of classes in your area, please visit either the MSU Extension events page or MI Money Health website. Additionally, you can take the Financial Health Survey at MI Money Health to access if you’re financially healthy and discover more ways you can improve your financial health. 

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