We all have that one colleague with horrible spending habits. You know the one I am talking about. The guy or girl who constantly eats out and buys useless crap. Well, after reading a financial success article of a well to do individual, my former coworker made a very interesting statement to our whole team. He said something like, “Wow, it must be nice to be rich. I wish I knew how to do that.”
Being the nerdy financial blogger that I am, his comment caught my attention. I quickly chimed in and told him, “It’s rather simple really. All you need to do is live below your means, save and invest the difference and repeat.”
This statement was scoffed at and quickly dismissed by my co-worker. He is about a decade older than me and has typically discriminated against me because of my age (but thats not a story we are going to get into).
Later that day, another colleague of mine brought up this conversation. She agreed with my statement and we began discussing spending and saving habits. The guy who dismissed my philosophy on creating wealth plays horrible defense and spends money like its going out of style.
He buys breakfast AND lunch every day from the various eateries around the office. Additionally, he takes at least two trips a day to Starbucks for coffee. Mind you, there is free coffee in the office. However, according to him, if it’s not Starbucks its not coffee….. *Face Palm*
Furthermore, this guy and his wife recently bought a house. The couple struggled to muster up the cash for a 3% downpayment and elected for a five year adjustable rate mortgage. Their investment theory is that they can refinance into a lower rate in a couple years once their house builds equity. Apparently, property values will always go up….. NOT!
Let’s preface the following analysis of my coworker’s spending with the fact that he makes between $120,000 to $130,000 a year; this is more than double the average household income in the United States.
The table below outlines my coworkers basic spending habits:
Assuming Johnny (not his real name) spends $5/breakfast, $10/lunch and $5/coffee, he would spend $125/week. This habit costs him $6,500/year, which is more expensive than buying a new car. Over a decade, Johnny’s poor spending habits will cost him over $65,000 (see table below).
Obviously, eating is a necessity. However, there are more cost effective and healthier options than eating every meal out. Below are just a few affordable and healthy alternatives to eating out every meal.
Low cost meal alternatives
- Two servings of oatmeal & blueberries: <$1.00
- Two servings of hot quinoa, cinnamon & blueberries (my favorite): <$1.00
- Two eggs, toast with peanut butter or jam, and a piece of fruit: ~$1.00-$1.50
- Two eggs, two diced potatoes for homemade home fries or grits: ~$1.00
- Yogurt w/ fruit or granola: $1.00-$1.50
- Homemade breakfast casserole. This is a great dish that takes about 10 minutes of prep and provides great hearty breakfast for the entire week. 1 dozen eggs, pre sliced hash browns, 1lb of ground (turkey) sausage, cheese and spinach: ~$10.00 (~$1.67/serving)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a piece of fruit: <$1.00. Average PB&J costs about $0.30
- Pasta and sauce: <$1.00
- Grilled boneless skinless chicken breast & quinoa: $1.50-$2.00,
- Italian sausage, on a sub roll with sauteed peppers and onions: ~$2.00
According to Commerce Department, for the first time ever, Americans are now spending more dining out than at the grocery store. A 2015 study conducted by Visa shows the average American spends approximately $3,000 on lunch dining annually. This expense is a luxury and not necessity. Anyone struggling to pay off debt or save could easily reduce their dining habits to improve there financial health. What are your dining habits like? Do you have any low-cost meals that you enjoy?