The beginning of a new year is a good time to learn new habits that can help you be happier, healthier and wealthier.
The happiness part is up to you, of course, but maybe we can help you become healthier and wealthier.
Everyone’s got to eat. But if you’re not careful, you can easily find yourself starving your wallet. For example, it doesn’t seem like you’re shelling out a whole lot for a steamy latte at your favorite coffee shop every morning before work, right? But those dollars add up over the weeks, and pretty soon, you can wind up low on cash over a few double mochas.
Food expenses are one of the easiest ways to bust your budget – it’s SO easy to pick up dinner on the way home or call for delivery after a long day – that we tend to overlook the amount of money we’re spending, because it seems outweighed by the convenience factor.
There are actually lots of ways you can eat well without falling victim to the take-out-food budget busting monster. Try some of these tips:
Go to the grocery store!
(see previous post for more on the best ways to do that)
Plan your meals, make a shopping list and go to the store. If time to cook is really your problem, you can buy frozen dinners that microwave in minutes. Those are more expensive than preparing food yourself, but far less expensive than eating take out or drive through food every day. They’re better for you, too.
Keep a Spreadsheet
Or – try this: Keep a list of all the restaurant food you buy in a week. Write down every cup of gas station coffee or bottle of soda that you buy – and how much you spent. Write down every trip through the drive through or every take out meal - and how much you spent. Write down every weekday lunch that you buy instead of bring. You will be amazed at how much money you’re spending! For some, just seeing it all written down and totaled up can be the wake up call they need to keep more money in their pockets!
Grab a Cookbook
What’s that? You don’t know how to cook? Then get yourself a cookbook and learn! Cookbooks are for sale anywhere books are sold, videos are available online and lots of specialty stores like The Garlic Press offer cooking classes, too. Cooking from scratch is a great way to save money, and it’s better for the environment, too, because you avoid dumping all the plastic and cardboard take out boxes into the landfill. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself having fun while saving.
Throw a party
Invite some friends over for dinner to show off your new cooking skills. Or…invite some friends over and all cook dinner together. Or…have a progressive dinner where you move from one friend’s house to the next for each separate course of the meal.
Socializing over food is a great way to have fun. And you’ll discover that you won’t just savor the food, you’ll love the savings!