Frugal, healthy lunches from now on
I changed jobs over a year and a half ago and I still have not developed a frugal lunch routine. There are certain characteristics of my job that force me to eat out more than I like. At my last job, I always bagged my lunch or ran home for lunch every day. My former workplace was more structured and the people that I worked with had a high level of frugality. Much of that rubbed off on me. Since our move, I have not yet developed the discipline to make sure that I pack a lunch everyday.
Several changes have contributed to my “falling off the wagon” when it comes to lunch:
- When I first arrived, I was the new guy and everyone was always inviting me out to lunch with them and buying said lunch. Since then the “buying” has fallen off, but the “going” continued.
- I have found that lunch at my new job is an extension of work. Policy and procedures are discussed and formal work decisions are made. I think this is bad business, but I am not in a position to change this fact.
- My schedule at my new job is very haphazard. I seldom eat at the same time every day and I never quite know what is happening around lunch time.
- When we were struggling to sell our house, I quit keeping track of our budget, the news was too painful. Not knowing exactly where the money was going made it easier for me to just throw another five bucks on the pile.
- I am on the road more often at my new job and that Wendy’s Spicy Chicken sandwich is soooo good and quick and easy . . .
- The bottom line is that I broke my frugal habit and never reformed that habit in a new venue.
On Monday, I wrote about how often I waste one and two and three dollars on junk food and fast food. This is a habit that I am going to break. Over the past year, I started to purchase lunch three or even four times a week. I probably spent $80 to $100 on lunch every month. One day a week is pretty much a mandatory office event ($12), the other three ($5 apiece) are the result of sheer laziness and the fact that I love fast food. Not proud of that, but there you have it.
I rationalized this several ways. The primary being that I spend far less than my office coworkers on lunch during the week. They typically go to lunch four or five times a week and spend at least $10 per day. I don’t spend nearly that much and I make basically the same money . . . so I should be ahead, right? Not really. As I consider those that I work with, most are two income families and I am certain that most are carrying high levels of consumer debt.
I know better.
Over the past few months, I have slowly moved away from going out to lunch simply because I cannot afford the $10 lunches As a result, my coworkers no longer pressure me to go to lunch with them. I have successfully set the precedent that “Stew does not go to lunch” without offending. However, I still go out to lunch on my own and because I’m just a little cheaper – McDonalds instead of Chili’s, Wendy’s instead of Atlanta Bread, etc. But I’m still spending $5 per day.
I decided that I have worked here long enough that if my boss needs me at lunch, he can ask me specifically. In which case, I will ask “If this is a job requirement, who is buying?” So far no one has asked – they probably like making decisions without me. I know that I miss some things, but not enough to spend $10 to $12 of my own money every day.
Here are my lunch resolutions for the rest of the year:
- I can go out to eat once a week with a budget of $12. I have learned that I have to go out to eat on Tuesdays or risk significant ill will.
- I have a refrigerator in my office, I need to make sure it is always stocked with good food.
- Other than Tuesdays, I need to bring a bag lunch.
- For half of the money that I am currently spending, I can purchase the fixings for a really good sack lunch
- The money I save will be used for debt reduction.
- My health should see a significant improvement.
Part of the reason that I am posting these resolutions here is so Mrs. Stew can read them and help keep me accountable. Furthermore, I need to buckle down and practice frugality in every part of my life again. I have done it in the past, but I need to continue that habit.
I should also mention that everyone of my coworkers were over budget in their respective departments last year. I was able to successfully balance the part of the company budget for which I am responsible. If I start bringing a sack lunch, maybe I can start to exert some positive peer pressure on those around me . . . while saving money . . . and losing a little weight.