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Everyone knows it’s generally cheaper to make your lunch than dine out, but even if you don’t buy your lunch often, your midday meals could cost you thousands of dollars a year. A new survey from Visa says Americans spend an average of $2,746 a year on lunch.
The figures include what people pay when eating out and the cost of groceries for homemade meals. Visa used a survey company to conduct phone interviews between July 16-19 and Aug. 6-9 to ask U.S. adults about their lunch spending. The survey sample includes 2,033 randomly selected adults living in the continental U.S., and results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.17%.
Of course, feeding yourself every day is important, and any sort of daily expense will add up, but spending more than $50 a week on lunch alone is a lot. (One percent of survey respondents said they spent more than $50 a day.) If you’re going into credit card debt or are unable to save because you’re not paying attention to how much your meal costs add up, you may want to re-evaluate your priorities. It’s a good idea to budget and track your spending, so you know how to adjust your habits and make progress toward your financial goals.
The survey also found Americans buy lunch from a restaurant an average of twice weekly, costing about $11 each time. The average cost of a homemade lunch was $6.30, and about a third of Americans (32%) said they never dine out for lunch. Though it’s probably not a good idea to spend more than you need to just to earn credit card rewards, keep in mind some cards give you extra points for grocery shopping or eating out, which could make those food purchases more valuable. For example, the Chase Freedom card (reviewed here) sometimes offers cardholders 5% cash back on groceries and restaurant bills, so you can strategize and save while making regular purchases.
Like all aspects of budgeting, cutting your lunch bill starts with analyzing your habits. Once you know how much your typical meals cost, you can identify ways to bring the expense down and determine the best way to reallocate those savings.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
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