Thursday, November 27, 2008

What do you spend?

More of our friends and neighbors are facing hard times with job layoffs and pay cuts due to lack of sales. Although times can certainly get worse than they are right now, it is always a good idea to be aware of your spending habits. Over the years, I have worked with a lot of people and one of the things I have always noticed is the amount of money spent on lunches. It is very common for workers who are making an average or below salary to buy lunch, often from a fast food outlet.

Even if you try to eat healthy, the cost of the food is significant. For example, at McDonalds, a Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken is almost $6. If you order a drink and a side, you can pay almost $8.50 or so plus tax. Multiply that times five days a week and you have a significant amount of money spent on a lot of food. Most of my co-workers justify the expense by claiming that they don't have time in the morning to fix food for lunch. But spread out over a month, the cost of lunch is as much as a car payment. One study found the average person spends almost $3000 a year on restaurants and fast food.


One of my friends confided in me that they were having major problems with paying bills. I suggested a simple solution. Get a notebook and write down every penny spent on what ever item for a whole month. Within a couple of weeks the friend talked to me again and said, essentially, that he had no idea how much money he was wasting on things he didn't want and didn't need.

There is a trade off. You have to be aware of what it costs, to you, to buy a drink at the convenience market or to go to a movie. Maybe you need to carry your own water bottle filled at home, and maybe you need to go to the library and check out movies for free or even better, read a book.

Unless it is monitored, money will run through your hands like water, and when hard times come, like right now, you will not be prepared.

No comments: