I posted recently about three things that are making my budget creep up over time and it’s about time I changed this. One of those was getting a takeaway on an evening when I can’t be bothered. However, it also has come to my attention that I have succumbed to the work canteen more regularly over the last few weeks, which is not a good thing.
Now, £2 here or there doesn’t seem much, but when you add it up over the month, or even the working week, it soon adds up to much more. Every individual spend might seem like small change, but add that up after a year and you’ve suddenly spent quite a lot!
I work with a colleague who is terrible at remembering to bring anything for lunch. In fact, he quite regularly stops at the local shop on his way into work to buy his breakfast and lunch for that day. Now, buying food on an empty stomach is a bad idea as research shows that you tend to buy more food when you’re hungry, and it tends to be more unhealthy and contain more fat because you’re hungry and need that “quick fix”. Just before Christmas, this particular colleague was talking about how skint he felt and how him and his family never seem to have any money left. Now I know that he earns quite a bit more than I do every month, as does his wife, so where does all the money go?
I sat one day (I’m such a geek, I know!) and worked out approximately what he must have spent at the shop that morning for his food. Including his breakfast and lunch items, he must spend about £8 a day on his food. £8 a day?! If you then multiply that by five for the week, that’s £40 a week, approximately. In a four-week working month, that’s then £160 a month! Even more so in a 5 week month. No wonder he was feeling the pinch just before Christmas; he spends more on his work food than we do for our entire monthly shop!
So, as a challenge to myself to keep myself out of the work canteen and staying away from the takeaways when I get home, I’m going to do the working week challenge. During the working week, which for me is Mon-Fri, I am not allowed to go to the work canteen and I’m not allowed to get any takeaways.
I’m already quite excited about this because I think it’ll have some very good side effects:
- saving money – this is the big one I suppose!
- eating healthier food – no matter what I choose to take with me or make will, 99.9% of the time, be a healthier option. That’s a win for my health.
- longer lunch time to enjoy as I won’t be stood in a queue for 10-15 minutes waiting for the food.
- bigger variety of food; making my own lunch means that I can choose what I want from anything!
- Ultimately, a better sense of will-power, which is great for building confidence and self belief!
For the next month, I am going to write down every time I feel tempted by either the work canteen or a takeaway and the approximate cost of what the meal would be, and keep a note. At the end of this challenge, which I’m going to say runs all the way until the end of April, I shall post my results and see how much I will have saved!
If my work colleague decided to join me, he’d save at least £160 a month which would mean he would be £1,920 better off at the end to 12 months. How amazing is that? Not only would he eat better, as some of the food items he eats are very questionable, he would also have a very nice amount of money to play with. He could treat his whole family to a holiday, or pay some more off his mortgage, or put it into his retirement account. The possibilities are endless!
Feel free to join me on this challenge – the results may surprise you.
There’s no harm in trying, as you’ll be eating better and spending less. Even if you only eat in the work canteen once or twice a week, over a month or even a year, that will add up. Imagine paying off some more of your student loans, or your credit card debt. You could add more to your pension fund, or have a holiday with loved ones and create more lasting memories. You get to make the decision because it’s your money. And it’s still in your pocket, which is even better.
So, I’ll report back at the end of April with my results – I’d love people to join me on this, as I can share your progress too!