Some of us get it, and some don't. We've all heard the familiar calculation -- skip that Starbucks latte every day and you'll have enough saved at the end of the year to buy, say, a nice television -- or better yet, a few shares of stock that will keep growing. This kind of wake-up call doesn't make an equally deep impression on each person, though. For some it's life-changing; others shrug and order a large latte the next day. The other day on our Living Below Your Means discussion board, I ran across a wonderful example of someone getting it. Permit me to share.
ROTJob explained: "The small group I work in orders lunch for pickup almost everyday, from what I consider to be mid-priced restaurants in the area (Outback, Olive Garden, T.G.I. Fridays, etc.). They always look at me weird because I bring some leftovers from home.
"But then the other day I happened to be on the phone with Home Depot, talking about scheduling some major kitchen renovations, and one of the ladies asked how I could afford to do that. So I had to point out that by doing things like bringing my lunch from home, I am saving over $10 per day over what they are doing, which adds up to over $200 per month. And that is just one area of my cheapness. She actually came back later asking me what some of my other ways were to save money, and has been bringing her lunch four days a week. I think there might be a new cheapskate about to be born."
Fellow board denizens chimed in with their own lunch habits:
- FoolYap explained that he brown-bags it 90% of the time, typically eating: a sandwich, a Columbo light yogurt, 8-10 olives, a piece of fresh fruit (usually an apple), a small handful of carrots or celery, and a can of diet soda. "Given the prices we pay for stuff like bread, chicken, soda, etc., maybe that amounts to $1.50 in ingredients?? Less than $2, anyway."
- Tconi offered a way to remember to take a lunch when you leave your home in the morning: "make your lunch the night before and put your keys on top of it in the fridge."
- ReedHedges offered another solution: "I keep all the ingredients for a sandwich at work. Also have a few cups of dried soup."
- Several people recommended little frozen dinners and entrees from the local supermarket. Dtschet noted: "If you clip coupons and shop on double-coupon day at the store, they are about 99 cents each." I myself have often enjoyed frozen Healthy Choice meals, made by ConAgra
[Note to investors: if you sense that more and more people are buying frozen meals, you might want to look into the companies that make them. It's probably not your imagination, either. According to the American Frozen Food Institute, "Total retail sales of frozen foods in the U.S. reached more than $26.6 billion in 2001, 6.1% higher than 2000, up over one billion dollars from 1999 and two billion dollars from 1998." Some other firms involved in frozen meals include Campbell Soup
Read the whole discussion, if you're interested. And consider yourself invited to chime in with your own thoughts.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Kraft, Heinz, and Sara Lee are all Motley Fool Income Investor picks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.