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Monday, August 29, 2016

$$$ Herspective: How to save over two hundred bucks a month $$$

Imagine what you would do with an extra two to three hundred dollars in your bank account per month... You could save for a vacation, splurge on a nice suit and/or start your own side project or business. According to a survey conducted by Visa back in 2012 over sixty percent of Canadians buy their lunch out once or more a week, adding up to a huge amount of money wasted over time. I am no exception and used to buy my lunch almost every single day at one point in my career and boy did it ever eat into my budget, no pun intended.

I discovered early on in my old career that I wasted a lot of money on eating out. When I was much younger and just starting out I would sometimes buy my breakfast, lunch and even dinner from the food court of the building I worked in at the time. I never gave it much though but after a while I noticed that not only was I not saving any money per month I was also just barely breaking even. I took a hard look at my spending habits over a six month period and discovered that I was spending between two and four hundred dollars on food alone in a month. That means that I was eating out at least once per day, five days a week, that is a lot of wasted moula!

Alarmed by this scary trend and my depleted finances I also took a look in my fridge and to my horror it was nearly empty except for the obligatory box of baking soda. I realized that without meaning to I had become a character from every bad romantic comedy from the late nineties! I was a single person focused on my career with very little experience in the kitchen, no time to grocery shop and sweaters in my stove. My mother would have been mortified. I come from a family of food loving cooks and connoisseurs and a mother who always cooks too much with a fridge stuffed so full with food that something always falls out when I open the freezer. Again, MORTIFIED!

I needed to change my eating habits quick so, I sat down and wrote myself out a food budget which I vowed to stick to and boy did it suck!!! Before, I would sleep for an additional half hour in the morning because I knew that I could always grab a quick bite right before work from the local coffee joint but not anymore. Oh no, now I had to drag my usually exhausted ass out of bed a half hour earlier and choke down whatever I could make in the limited amount of time I had before I had to leave. The fun didn't stop there though, before I implemented the "budget of pain" I could work non stop until two or three and then grab something quick from the sushi place I loved to frequent and then keep powering through until quitting time. Sadly, I now had to stop what I was doing and get up, heat up my food/assemble whatever I had time enough to throw together the night before and then eat it in the lunch room with the rest of the peons. I was in hell. Dinner was probably the worst part of this self imposed torture. Where before I would grab something at the office or just order something from one of the local restaurants, all of a sudden I was forced to chop vegetables and boil water and all kinds of horrible things before I could eat (first world problems)!

Those were dark days but after every rainstorm the sun does come out again. After two months an interesting thing started happening, my bank balance started going up, way up. Ok, I didn't all of a sudden start lighting my cigars with hundred dollar bills but I had saved just under five hundred bucks so I was feeling pretty darn good and my bank account looked a heck of a lot better. This was the start of something wonderful for me, I was so used to childishly blowing all of my money and now I felt like I was adulting like a champ. I also learned to cook and developed a passion for it and cooking became a pleasure instead of a punishment. I also learned how to nail my morning routine and surprise surprise, taking time to stop and actually focus on your food at lunch is a great way to relax and recharge your batteries.

Over the years I've managed to reduce the amount I eat out to three or four days a month (usually weekends) and almost always with my partner in crime, Mr. Stamp. We have a budget of course which he has brought up before and we stick to it religiously. I never feel like I am missing out and I really enjoy hosting dinner at our house and whipping us up a healthy lunch, daily. I know it is not always possible to make every meal and that because we work from home I have a lot more freedom but if you want to save yourself some major cash try making up a food budget focused around homemade meals and stick with it, you just might be surprised.

Ms. Stamp

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