Thursday, March 10, 2016

Just some calculations

As I was making lunches for today, I was thinking about just how much we save by always packing a lunch. I had to get my calculator out for this.

For my daughters, in university. . .

about 9 weeks per quarter
5 days per weeks
8 quarters completed, so far (tomorrow is the last day of classes for this quarter)

that's 360 days of packing lunches, so far.



Here's a sample lunch that my daughters take (it's actually breakfast and lunch, here, but for calculations, the lunch-only portion is listed):

a peanut butter sandwich (heavy on the peanut butter), on homemade, whole wheat bread
leftover spinach-rice casserole
1 apple
1 banana

I estimate that we spend at most, about 75 cents per lunch. Multiplied by 360 days. So far, we've spent $270 on lunches for each daughter while at their university.


If they were to eat in the dining hall, on campus, the cost is $9.25 for an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. The total cost to eat on campus for every day of classes, so far, would have been $3330! That's $3060 more than taking lunch with each of them, or $6120 for the both of them.

And if you look at the lunch that I packed, it's obvious that it was a quick and easy to make lunch, today. So not a lot of work for that $6120 in savings.

Sometimes, I just need to do these calculations to remind myself of just how valuable a little frugality can be.

34 comments:

  1. I will be the one out of the boat this time. I have two kids in college this year but three last year. They all live on-campus and eat in the dining hall and we pay a lot for this. We used to live nearly an hours drive away but moved closer the last couple of years and we still urge them to live on campus. Why,you might ask? The answer is simply that they need to learn to live on their own, get fully acclimated into the campus life, make their own decisions, do their own laundry and work on campus all while studying and carrying a full load. It does wonders in their growth as young people. It's a sacrifice my hubby and I chose to make. Oldest daughter graduated from college last May and lives at home with us. She has almost all her debt paid already on her salary--a debt accumulated over four years so the trade-off wasn't bad at all. The ones living at home take all their lunches to work with them every day. The temptation of going out to eat never is an issue for any of us and we're happy with our sandwich and fruit and maybe a yogurt parfait.

    Alice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alice,
      When I was young and working outside the home, I did bring my lunch with me most of the time. It was difficult, at times, though, when co-workers would invite me to come along out to lunch. I was saving my money to put down on a condo, at the time. But still I didn't want to feel left out of the group. As an older person, this wouldn't be an issue for me. But when I was young and single and it felt like all the other young singles were eating out everyday, that was a hard choice to make.

      Delete
  2. Packing their lunch is still going to be cheaper, but if your daughters were going to eat in the dining hall every day, you would buy a meal plan which is much cheaper than paying per meal. So while there would probably still be substantial savings, the numbers might not be so high. I bought a meal plan once when I was renting a room without kitchen privileges and it worked well.

    And the whole subject of packing your lunch instead of eating out, brings me to one of my pet peeves. Several times I have seen "experts" on TV telling people to pack a lunch instead of buying it and then tell them how much they will save. However, rarely do they take the cost of making your lunch into account. While the advice is still good, the detailed person I am, goes crazy with this oversight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi live and learn,
      You're probably right. We've never looked into whether they offer a meal plan for a quarter that would cover only lunches. One thing this university has, though, that I think is really cool, is a lounge open only to commuters, with tables and sofas/chairs, and a kitchenette so they can heat up their brown-bag lunches.

      Since I deal in "real" dollars on a daily basis, I try to remember to look at what it costs when I do something to save money. The "experts" on TV may not be meticulously following their own advice, so forget about things like the cost of packing a lunch. how about those moms/dads who think their doing a great thing, budget-wise, by packing their kids' school lunches. But then they throw in some lunchables, juice boxes, pre-packaged chips and cookies, and a fruit roll, putting their cost to pack a lunch well over the cost of a school-provided lunch.

      Delete
    2. One of the reason's I like your calculations is that you are thorough and you get a real cost comparison.

      Delete
  3. That works if you live at home. My son is four hours away and he doesn't have the means to make his own meals, lives in a dorm. We helped him pick this school due to the career he chose. Could have found two schools closer but cost was $30,000 more per year. It was a trade off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cheryl,
      I'm glad you/he found a school that will suit his career. And I agree that we all have to make choices which will have some short term drawbacks, for long term gain. It wouldn't make much sense to choose a school based on the ability to pack his own lunch.

      I wasn't meaning to imply that every young adult should do as we have, here. But just that doing these little calculations often propells me to keep up with my frugal activities.

      Delete
    2. I will say I pack my dh's lunch everyday for work and when the kids were home, did theirs too. The cost of lunch was $2.50 for them, but it was never enough food for my son so the cost would have been much higher. I remember another mom who's kid was older telling me their kid would have to buy lunch everyday because seniors just didn't pack a lunch. I laughed years later, mine didn't like school lunches. Cheryl

      Delete
    3. Cheryl,
      I went through a very, very brief phase of thinking that taking a lunch to school was uncool. So I didn't . . .for about 3 days. Then I was so hungry by the end of each school day, that I just didn't care if it was cool or not to bring a lunch!

      Delete
  4. A number of years ago I did something similar. I calculated the savings for my husband packing his own lunch instead of eating at work which would require him to eat out every single day!

    Unlike you though I have almost never packed a lunch for anyone! Call me lazy! or call me encouraging self reliance in my family members! (I homeschooled through high school so never dealt with lunches for younger kids) LOL

    Everyone packs their own lunch here...my husband and my 2 daughters who commute daily to college. One travels about 10 minutes, one way (5 days a week) and the other travels an hour and a half, one way (2 days a week)!

    I hear you about the savings! We've saved thousands and thousands of dollars over the years!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Linda,
      It is amazing how much is saved with the simple act of packing a lunch every day. It's been in the 10s of thousands, over the course of my marriage.

      Delete
    2. From pretty early on (grade school), my kids packed their own lunch. I helped by having supplies on hand. Occasionally, I would help out, but packing their lunch was their responsibility. Not surprisingly, they opted for school lunches sometimes. Slowly but surely, they got there.

      Delete
  5. Eating out is always going to be more expensive (although $9 for all you can eat buffet is a very good price, especially for hungry big eaters). And there is that thing about apple's to apple's comparison, however, even if home lunch is not the all you can eat variety and quantity, how much do you truly eat at a school buffet, especially when eating from the same cafeteria selections day after day?...probably not $9 worth. So I think something in that neighborhood ($5000+) is a fair comparison of monies saved.

    I do similar calculations like this all the time..shall we just call this "our money game"lol

    YHF

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another way to look at this...your daughter's appetites are no match to big husky athletes who eat more than $9 worth of food every day. Pricing probably takes this into account, so you would be subsidizing rather than benefiting. I guess a little subsidy would be ok...just not a whole lot.

      YHF

      Delete
    2. Hi YHF,
      It's a fun "game" and helps keep me motivated.
      One thing I didn't mention is a thought that has occurred to me several times. As it's an all you can eat buffet, and I have petite girls who are light eaters, compared to strapping young men on campus -- if we were to buy a meal plan for my girls, they would essentially be subsidizing all of those lunches eaten by the guys on campus. It's hard for a "light eater" to get their money's worth at an all you can eat establishment.

      Delete
    3. Ha, YHF! You and I were posting at the same time -- with the same thought!!

      Delete
    4. LOL that is indeed funny...

      I like to read calculations like your post today, of how much is saved doing the extra work, because frugality is work!! We need all the motivation to keep with it. I recently told my husband that I think I want to do this work, named frugality, until I'm 75, after that I'm not going to try to be frugal (though by then my habits may be well entrenched) or keep track of budgets lol I look at frugality as insurance against the unforeseen (economic hard times, that extra health coverage, family subsidy and disability, long term care), instead of paying out for these insurances, I'm self insured.

      YHF

      Delete
    5. Last comment here lol...I can't stop thinking!!!

      As they say, it's not what you earn but what you save that counts. It's fine if you love your job and feel that you are doing meaningful work, but looking at just the dollars, income vs. expenses. Which is easier to control, predict, etc.? There are family members that only want to "grow the pie" and think nothing about saving money. In fact, I think they feel saving money is for losers....but as they are near retirement, they cannot stop working because they have too much debt.

      YHF

      Delete
  6. We all do what we have to do to make life work for us. We could save tons of money yearly if TheHub took his lunch to work rather than eating out, but the only time his co-workers and he have to discuss "the next step" at work is over lunch where they are not burdened by calls and interruptions. So I guess we are buying time each day as well as lunch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anne,
      that makes sense. And in some industries, lunch out can be a time to network, too.

      When I worked in commercial art/advertising, my boss liked to eat out as a way and time to talk about our current project. Luckily, he always paid for the lunches.

      Delete
  7. My husband's work is such that he only rarely needs to attend a business lunch. He's worked at the same company for more than twenty years and he always takes his lunch. I usually pack leftovers for him, dished into a container as I'm putting away the food after dinner. I also pack his snacks and his tea. (He also will pack these things if I'm not able.) Daddy's lunch is priority for leftovers, as leftovers are fought over around here, lol. I know for a fact that this has saved us a ton of money over the years. although I've never calculated it. Plus, often times my husband will come home and tell me how his coworkers comment on how good his lunch looks/smells :) Our oldest daughter went to cosmetology school last year and packed her lunch every day. She was the only student who did so. All the others got fast food or food from the vending machines. She still packs her own lunch to take to work every day. Melissa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melissa,
      Taking her lunch is a habit that will remain with her for her career, and really help her to save money. Good for her!

      Makes sense about the leftovers going into your husband's lunch. It gives him something hearty to eat, and saves you the time and trouble of preparing something extra for him.

      Delete
  8. It's helpful to remember why we have our thrifty habits. Sometimes the drudgery of cooking meals/packing lunches/washing dishes gets old and it's good to think about just how much money has been saved. Our reason for packing lunches isn't just for saving money--it's easier to eat in a healthy manner if you have prepared your own food. It's so easy to overeat in a cafeteria or restaurant setting--I know that I start to think, "Oh, I've had a rough morning, I think I'll get frozen yogurt and I NEED to sprinkle candy on top to put me in a better mood". If I pack a lunch, I am content with a small treat (cookie, muffin ... ) to get me through the day.

    Having said that ... we do a hybrid, especially for the kid's school lunches. Mostly we pack lunches, but they are allowed a certain number of school lunches per month as a treat (and to feel like part of the gang). My hubby mostly takes leftovers for lunches but we have discovered that if I have the day off, it's an inexpensive date to eat out for lunch--no babysitting fee and lunch is generally cheaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kris,
      You're right about eating healthier, for many of us. I know I'd do as you think you would, and "treat" myself, because I had a bad day, or something like that. I'd probably go or the fries and other greasy stuff. In fact, that is exactly what I did do, when my daughters and I toured their campus and ate in the dining hall. LOL! I was tired that day, my head hurt and all I could see was the pile of French fries. Of course, I got a burger and diet soda to go with the fries, to balance it out. When I make a snack to take with me, when I have to go out, I always bring something on the healthy side, like fruit, or nuts and raisins.

      Your hybrid plan sounds like it's working well for you and your family. It gives you a chance to teach your kids about choosing wisely.

      Delete
  9. My daughter takes her lunch. It saves lots and lots of money. I follow a blog called "The Blue Birds Are Nesting." She is doing the Vickie Challenge. This is setting dollar amounts to the money you save each week. It has become a bit of a game. I love doing this because it keeps me motivated. Yesterday after all the biopsies my sweet daughter offered to take me to lunch,to cheer me up but we choose to go home and eat. I have been preparing. Double batches of dinner and freezing in single servings.
    I am glad we came home because the anastetic wore off quickly and I was ready to be home. I am very happy for all the freezer food because I do not feel like cooking today. I am too sore, Quite a bit swelling and bruising in my neck and throat. So it is good to just take it easy and recoup. and dinner is already made and in the freezer. They ended up doing all the the nodules that look suspicious. am grateful I will have results in 2 to
    4 weeks. Thank you for the prayer it was very kind. Now I am believing for a good report in Jesus name.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Blessings,
    Patti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Patti,
      Oh, I feel for you. Take good care of yourself and rest. I'm glad that you had the foresight to put some ready-made meals in the freezer. I'll keep you in my prayers.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Sending prayers for good news, Patti.

      Delete
  11. Lili, it is so funny that you ran this calculation as I had done the same thing this past week (I'm one of your fellow math geek numbers persons). I was thinking about all the years of my working life, now totaling 38 years. During that time, I have always taken my lunch to work. I currently work in schools where I could get a lunch for $3.50. However, like others, I want to control what I eat health wise, I like my food better (!) and want to save money. Similar to yours, my lunches cost less than $1. When I did the math, even with a very conservative cost such as a school lunch now, which would equate with corporate lunches back in the beginning of my career in the 70s, I calculated that I had saved over $17,000! That stopped even me in my tracks!! And, I think this is a minimal estimate. Armed with that knowledge, I will carry on with my lunch box, leftovers and cloth napkins (the same ones my children used many years ago when I packed their lunches too:) Everyone have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lynn,
      Just like you, I was just thinking the other day how I like my own cooking better than fast food or quick service restaurants.

      That's fantastic! Your savings and the fact that you continue to make use of the cloth napkins from your kids! Great job!

      Have a wonderful weekend, Lynn!

      Delete
  12. I always pack my hubby's lunch too & also his breakfast, as he starts early am & likes to eat after he is at work a couple hours. Usually leftovers for lunch & I pack him snacks too. He laughs as once in a while we have no leftovers & I pack him a sandwich, his co workers will say what is she mad at you, how come you have a sandwich.
    Rhonda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rhonda,
      That is sooo funny!

      Delete
    2. While I don't actually pack anyone's lunches (they all make their own) my husband hears similar comments when he takes left-overs. Several of his co-workers tell him his lunches smell fantastic when he heats them up in the microwave. Leftover lasagna, taco casserole, various soups, etc. Sometimes he will take a chef's salad too and even then his co-workers look on with envy! LOL Home cooked leftovers beat take-out or cafeteria food in more ways then one!

      Delete

I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.