When you’re spending all day at work, it’s sometimes hard to resist the temptation to snack – especially when you’re hungry and everything looks enticingly delicious. However, recent research by Visa Contactless says these daily hunger pains are affecting more than just our waistlines.
It seems our finances are being hit quite hard by a desire to snack during the workday, as the research says that on average workers in the UK each spend £10.59 a day on lunch, snacks and hot drinks. This works out at £2,541.60 per year, which is a big price to pay for morning coffees and lunch time treats.
If you think you might be guilty of splashing out too often on work-time treats, there may be a few solutions to help rein in all that spending.
Best be budgeting
Coming up with a budget to restrict your spending is a good idea, but the research suggests that as many as a third of us aren’t budgeting at all for everyday expenditure. Yet when the annual bill is so high, it seems only wise to plan ahead and budget in advance to save the pennies later on.
It’s often hard to track small cash payments - a good way to start is with a “spending diary”. For a week or two every time you spend any money make a note of it in your diary. This will give you a good insight into how much you spend during the week on lunches and snacks. Once you’ve seen your expenditure over a period of weeks, it should make it easier to identify just where you might be going wrong.
From this, set a limit to your weekly lunchtime spending and find a way of sticking to it. For example if you set a budget of £20 a week for lunchtime spends, bring in £20 on Monday and keep it in an envelope by your desk – buy everything you want from that money and make sure you have enough to make it through to Friday without topping it up.
It’s a great idea to do something constructive with the money you aren’t spending on snacks. Why not set up a standing order to move the money into a savings account on payday – you won’t miss the money (after all you were spending it before) and it will soon build up into a nice nest egg.
To prevent costly trips to the work cafeteria, making your lunch at home the night before is a great way to save money – and you can be as creative as you like. Gone will be the days of picking between the last egg mayo and tuna crunch as you craft your own lunch from your favourite ingredients and save money in the process.
Costs for making your own lunches can often be added to your weekly shop, and buying lots of ingredients to make food throughout the week should be significantly cheaper than paying over £10 a day. So, it shouldn’t be long before the savings start to mount up.
It doesn’t just have to be cheese sandwiches either; why not try experimenting in the kitchen and make some more exciting dishes? Pasta salads can be made and stored in plastic containers, or you could be even more cost-effective and bring in leftovers from last night’s dinner.
Another benefit of making your own lunch is that it can be as healthy as you want it to be, so if you’re looking to lose some weight or stay in shape; this could be the best way for you to control your diet. Remember, you can control your own portion sizes too, so you could consider bulking your meals up with healthy wholegrain bread to stop those mid-afternoon vending machine temptations.
In regards to hot drinks, try bringing your own mug and coffee or tea bags so you can make your own brews at work - it should be a more cost effective way to ensure you get your caffeine fix.
Stay on target
Before you get going, try to set yourself a target of where you want your savings to be spent. You can judge it from just how much you currently spend each month on lunch, snacks and hot drinks and work out how much it would cost over a year. Of course this will only be an estimate, but you can use this to set yourself a goal, which should ultimately help to motivate you.
Where do you see your savings being spent? It could be on anything from a few treats for the kids to a brand new TV. Or, if the research is anything to go by, the money could even be enough for a holiday. Who knows, you might end up saving more than you thought!
Budgeting can sometimes be quite difficult, especially when there are lots of bills coming out of your account at different times. The thinkmoney Personal Account is designed to help you with this, and takes some of the stress out of budgeting in return for an affordable monthly fee. You can learn more about it here.