“There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.”— Marlene Dietrich
Well it was hard not to spend for a day, yes. At the start, yes. It was hard.
I wanted to reduce my spending on food. Over two months I spent a whopping £770 on food. But that’s not the worst part, it’s not £770 on the family weekly shop, no. This money was the money I spent, just me, on food: breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks. I spent a couple of months tracking every penny I spent, and seeing this figure was eye opening. On average £385 a month. Just for me. That money could be out working for me in a Vanguard S&P 500 index fund, going out and bringing its money friends back with it every single night. Yet, for some reason, I thought the money would be of better use spent in the restaurants around my work. Which, might I add on a side note, have doubled in number since my company relocated to our new offices. Even a food market now comes on Fridays to get a piece of my money.
What does that hotdog vendor say in The Simpsons when Marge asks him if he follows Homer around, “Lady, he’s putting my kids through college.”
My restaurant lunch habit has got so bad that if I’m out in the city on the weekend, waiters, on their day off, stop and have a chat with me. If they’re with their family, I know them by name as well!
I decided to force myself to not spend for a day. That would mean: no breakfast at work, between £1.15 to £5. This does not always mean I buy a lot of food on the £5 day, no. The man who serves the food at our work does all his calculations in his head. He’s like the stock market and offers a different price daily. Then I might have a £1 or £2 snack before lunch. Then I’m off to a restaurant where £7 is a cheap lunch, yet I frequent the £15 menu restaurants. Back at work, I’ll treat myself to another snack of around £2, and then if I’m hungry before cycling home, I’ll pop in the shop and grab another snack at around £2.
The day before I decided not to spend, I made sure enough of the dinner would be recycled and used as lunch. I hate eating yesterday’s dinner for lunch, but… £770. On food!
I woke up early, easy for me as I’m an early bird. I went about making banana and oats pancakes for myself and the family. I bagged that and also last night’s dinner and cycled off to work. Luckily, I don’t drive to work, so didn’t spend a penny on petrol.
At work, I enjoyed the breakfast far more than the awful junk served in the kitchen. I was so full I didn’t even contemplate a snack during the day. 2 nil me. At lunch I reached for my wallet and stood up, ready to help some restaurant owner pay their mortgage. We have one French restaurant near my work that I go to so often, that I think, three more meals and I’ll become a major shareholder. But then I remembered I had lunch with me. I heated up my lunch and ate it all. It felt good to not spend and by the time I went back to work in the afternoon, I calculated I’d saved between £9.14 and £22 depending on my hunger. It felt like a £22 day as well. During the late afternoon I once again reached for my wallet, and then stopped myself from buying a snack. When I thought about it I actually didn’t need a snack. Instead I went and had a pint of water from the work kitchen tap. I cycled home, head down, doing everything not to look at any type of food establishment, hence I be tempted by the goodness it held. At home I kept my wallet in my bag and left the computer alone in case Amazon with its shiny wares tried to defeat my closed wallet ritual. Amazon! How you tempt me with your wide selection and excellent customer service!
At night, I reckoned I had saved £25 big ones! The enormity of it made me feel slightly ashamed of myself. I blew a lot of money on a lot of unhealthy food. I then calculated that if I did that only once every week it’d be £100 richer at the end of the month. At the end of the year: £1,200. After 20 years, you better sit down for this: £24,000. And that’s simple saving. If I threw it in a Vanguard index fund offering 8% a year returns, then I’d have £56,900!
Well, there we have it. A couple of months later and I’m having several spending free days a week. Little steps make a big difference. Food is one of the biggest expenses in a saver’s life. If you can cut down on eating junk and spending money on junk you’ll be healthy in your body, and your wallet.