Save Money Every Day by Brown Bagging It

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I bet I don’t have to tell you that pinching pennies and getting nowhere is no fun. But that’s what was happening to me. I stuck to a strict grocery budget, planning every meal around cost of ingredients rather than deliciousness. I cut down driving as much as I could to save on gasoline. I told the kids no to little luxuries. We quit cable TV.

All my efforts didn’t seem to be adding up to much, and I realized that while I was packing lunches for my husband and kids, I was running out the door in a manic haze of lateness without packing my own lunch.

At $5 a day or more, my “popping out for lunch” was costing us a lot of money, even if I only did it three days a week.

I bet you think I’m going to tell you how easy it is to pack a lunch, how much healthier my choices are now, and how much money I’m rolling in. Not so, not so. Getting into the habit of packing your own lunch is hard – much harder than I ever thought it would be.

Here are a few essential tips to get you started:

  • Pack ahead as much as you can. Make a week’s worth of salads all at once, and pre-bag chips, pretzels and other snack foods so you can grab them quickly.
  • Start a salad dressing co-op at work. Everyone brings a different salad dressing to keep in the office fridge. Everyone can use any dressing they want, but when you see that the one you bought is empty, you have to buy another (same kind or different). Not only is this a great way to try out new salad dressings, our stash of bottles rarely go to their expiration dates.
  • Talk to your boss about weekly group lunches. The company supplies the most expensive ingredient, and everyone else brings the individual parts of a whole meal. Taco Tuesdays are popular (the boss brings the meat, everyone else brings a taco ingredient!), chili, soup and grilled cheese, loaded baked potato bar, and salad bar are other great ideas. Plus everyone gets to eat together and have a little undemanding downtime – all for the cost of just one ingredient!
  • Painesville Credit Union staff hosts a potluck lunch once a month, alphabet style. Everyone picks a letter and their dish has to start with that letter. “R for Rigatoni,” anyone?
  • Don’t always eat your lunch at your desk. Find a nearby park, take a walk, get outside and get away from the work for a few minutes. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to do your best work.
  • But what to eat? Check out our Pinterest board for great pack-it-yourself brown bag lunch ideas!

We’re always here to help you reach your financial goals! Call us at Painesville Credit Union at 440-352-8974 to set up a financial counseling session, open a savings account, or finance your dream car or house!

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Making Life a Little Better is a blog by Painesville Community Credit Union. We're here to help you borrow and save money, plan for your family's future, and find the best chili recipe in Ohio (and maybe the world). Learn more about Painesville Community Credit Union here: www.painesvillecu.org.

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