If you’re thinking of ways to cut expenses to save some money this year, look no further than the dining room table. You could be eating away your nest egg every time you sit down for a meal. In 2018, the average American household, spent $7,203 a year on food, according to Trent Hamm in an article entitled “Lessons from the Average American’s Food.” Add two years of mild inflation to that calculation, and you’ll see right away that a large chunk of family income goes for food.
According to Hamm, a little more than half the typical food budget, or $4,049, is spent on groceries; while $3,154 goes toward food away from home. The coronavirus pandemic may have slowed down indoor dining, but lines of traffic are still as long, or longer, at restaurants that feature take-home meals.
Limit spending on prepared meals
If you’re doling out more than $3,000 every year to eat out, you can start saving for the future by limiting prepared meals . You could trim from $100 to $1,000 a year off the annual tab if you simply:
- Set a monthly budget for take-out restaurant food; $100 a month adds up to $1,200 vs $3,154.
- Take advantage of specials to lower the cost of takeout pizza and other curbside dinner pickups.
- Buy prepared meals only when they’re on special or can be purchased for less with coupons.
If you invest the money you save each month, you could have a nice egg nest at the end of each year.
To build even more wealth, save money on meals at home. You’ll pay less for food at the grocery store if you:
- Compare prices. Prices vary from store to store. Know where the best buys are for each staple in your cupboard, as well as items you regularly store in your refrigerator or freezer.
- Buy sale items and store labels vs name brands. (Difference in taste is often not noticeable).
- Bend over. Many stores stock the higher shelves with more expensive food choices. You might be surprised to see how much money you can save by stooping down to lower shelves.
Avoid food waste
Americans throw away a lot of food – wasting money that could be put to better use. To avoid waste:
. . . Take note of what goes into your garbage can each week.
. . . Buy less of whatever food items tend to be tossed out uneaten.
Saving money to invest for the future could be as easy as paying more attention to what you eat or waste.
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