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Brown-bagging It Since ’94

   Posted On: February 27, 2013  |    Posted In: Personal Finance 101  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

Kids in elementary school cafeterias all over the world are immediately divided into two groups: lunch buyers and lunch bringers. I was a lunch bringer and boy did I rock those homemade lunches. No Lunchables or processed snacks for this girl. It also took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that a reusable cold compress is for sports injuries and not specifically made to keep your lunch cold.

Even when I eyeballed the kids with Lunchables and candy bars I knew my lunches were certainly made with love. My mom even would dye my food and milk on holidays: pink for Valentine’s Day and green for St. Patrick’s Day.

make-green-beer

(Years later I would find this reminiscent of my childhood lunches. Yay for being Irish.)

Buying school lunch was a treat in my house. At the start of each month the administration at my parochial school sent home the cafeteria menu. My sister and I would get to pick two days a month to buy lunch (hello pizza Friday).

Feb_Lunch_Menu000113(The real, current lunch menu from my elementary Catholic school. I see they’ve done away with pizza Fridays.)

It’s been 18 years since I first took lunch to school but the mentality still sticks. Except, now I am the one making my lunches and missing the days of green milk.

The Case for Packing Your Own Lunch (with math):

Healthy homemade lunches keep a waistline slim and a wallet fat. By my calculations, I spend approximately $50 a week on groceries for meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) equating to $200 a month.

If I bought a $7 lunch each workday that would cost $140 a month, nearly three-quarters of my overall grocery money. Granted, my monthly grocery bill would be slightly reduced if I consistently bought lunch during work.

Hypothetically let’s say buying lunch reduced my grocery bill by $10 a week. That’s still $160 per month on groceries. $160 + the $140 lunch bill = $300. That is $100 more a month than I spend buying groceries to make all my meals. On a larger scale, buying lunch could cost me $1,200 a year.

Brown-bagging it aside, there are few small tricks I use to help save money each month.

#BrokeMillennial’s (current) Money Saving Tips:

  • If you’re unwilling to drink water from the tap then invest in a Britta filter over bottled water. The Britta filter has a larger upfront fee but it’s cheaper in the long run.
  • Reuse ziploc bags (big ones and sandwich ones). Wash those sandwich baggies, dry them and save a couple bucks when you pack your lunch.
  • Make your own coffee/tea in the morning.
  • Buy machine washable clothing to avoid dry cleaning bills (or buy Febreze).
  • Like reading or renting DVDs? Get a library card.
  • Unplug electrical appliances that aren’t in use.
  • Never be above hand-me-downs (well maybe one day?)
  • Buy a slow cooker and make big meals for the week.
  • Cut cable.

When doing those just think, “it’s nice when my wallet looks like this at the end of the week.”

IMG_3117(Or with 20s, 50s or a crisp Benjamin)

For daily bits of wit and financial advice follow the journey on Twitter @BrokeMillennial.

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8 responses to “Brown-bagging It Since ’94

  1. The real thing to understand is that most of the things you pointed out, including eating out, are all luxuries. But people don’t see it like that, they think that reducing water in their lives takes away from who they are. I don’t get it at all. I love home cooked meals, and leftover-lunches make the workday so good.

    1. Great points! I completely agree about the home cooked meals and taking in leftovers. I’m a big fan of doing a meal or two in my crockpot during the weekend and eating that during the week or freezing some for later.

  2. I am SO guilty of buying lunch far too many times during the week (and Max is SO good at bringing his lunch to work every week). He’s good example is rubbing off and I’ve been bringing my lunch every week 🙂 rocking my Nutella and peanut butter! I will buy lunch for a treat or if I am meeting up with someone (guilty as charged). We’ve also switched to using our Tupperware to carry sandwiches in so they don’t get smashed and you save on baggies. Pinterest has some really good CHEAP crockpot meals idea if you need some inspiration for a weekly meal 🙂 <3 love ya!

    1. I should check out those cheap crockpot meals! Glad to hear that Max is having such a good influence on your finances 😛 I also usually use Tupperware for my lunch too. I’ve had the same ones for 3 years (when I first bought them).

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