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Portion Control for your Finances

When was the last time you calculated the cost of your breakfast? I calculated the cost of mine the other day just out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised that it was only a whopping $1.96 every day!

The breakdown of my breakfast is as follows:

  • Bananas– I buy a bunch of bananas every week and usually can get 6 for $1.29, 1 banana = $.215

  • Oatmeal– I eat two individual packets of regular oatmeal, 6 packets to a box, box cost $2.50 2.50/6= $.42 x 2 packets= $.84

  • Coffee– I buy Starbucks coffee and I brew it at home- One pound cost $9.95 and can last me 14 days= $.71 per day

  • Soymilk- I buy a carton that last about 10 days- one carton cost $1.99= $.199 per day

Grand total= $1.96

Not too bad right? Great way to start the morning and not bad on my wallet either.

Now if you know me, you will know I am a creature of habit when it comes to food and don’t mind eating the same thing every day. My breakfast is the same every morning; oatmeal, a banana, and coffee with soy milk. I do this mainly because I want to eat something healthy and filling in the morning, but also so I don’t have to think about what to eat every morning– which saves me lots of time and also saves me money.

When working with clients on their cash flow, I usually see their food costs as the expenses that can really get out of control. Often times dining out is the one place where money falls through the cracks. A lunch here, a dinner there, drinks here and there– all of these things really add up. Planning ahead and prepping your meals for the week can ultimately become a more cost efficient route. Think of it as portion control for your finances.

A good way to keep your food costs in control is simply by eating at home. I try to go grocery shopping every weekend to stock up for the week ahead. Yes, there are occasions where I do eat out during the week (i.e. business meetings, client meetings/events or to celebrate a special occasion), but for the most part I usually eat my prepared, planned out meals and I have been doing so for years. Prepping your meals for the week does take time, but if you plan ahead, you can make this a great money-saving routine.

Growing up, when we went out to eat as a family, we weren’t allowed to order anything but water to drink unless it was our birthday or special occasion. My parents were great at budgeting and their motto was, “Why bother spending money on soda or other beverages when we are fine drinking water?” That way, we could splurge in other areas or go out more often because we were saving about $10.00- $15.00 per meal (family of 5) by not adding drink costs. I still follow this same philosophy today. This may seem extreme, but planning out your food costs will help you stay in control.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. Going out to eat is part of what you enjoy most and part of your social life too. I completely understand this. I still see my friends, family, attend networking events and go out for social gatherings all the time and usually do all while sticking to my food budget. Instead of business lunch meetings, I opt for coffee meetings (saves time and money). Instead of always going out to eat with friends, we opt for potlucks at someone’s house. We love this idea because everyone can bring their favorite signature dish to share, which is usually a great conversation starter and a less expensive route too.

If you just simply enjoy going out to eat and don’t want to give it up– don’t. Instead, make sure you adjust your spending plan accordingly to ensure you are still in control of your food costs. Maybe you decide to eat breakfast and lunch at home, but continue to eat out for dinner. Or vice versa. The point is, if you want to spend your money eating out all the time, you may need to sacrifice in other areas to ensure you are able to save for the future.

Remember, financial planning is not about cutting the fun out of your life. Rather, it is simply planning how you want to use your money to support your current lifestyle, while being able to save for your future one.