Balancing act: Readers find their own lunchtime balance
"After graduating from grad school and when we started to get a paycheck, I finally felt like I could eat out without the guilt of living outside of our means," he wrote. "After a couple years of this so-called 'freedom,' I quickly realized how much we were spending on eating out.
"We recently went to a cash-only system for lunches. I get $30/month in cash for 'lunch money,' and my wife gets $60 a month (she runs around with four kids and sometimes needs to get a quick bite for everyone if time doesn't allow). This has been a great system for us. We spend less, eat more healthy, and force ourselves to pay more attention to our spending habits."
I have a friend who has a similar system with his wife, and it's worked great for them, too. My wife and I have tried it, but it hasn't worked for us. Perhaps we lack the discipline to stick to the limits.
Still, I agree with the person who posted this comment when he went on to say that "if everyone sat down and wrote down everything they spent each month, they would be shocked at the totals." It definitely adds up quickly.
Another reader posted a comment online in which she wrote that her husband works at a company that has an on-site cafeteria, where lunches usually cost about $5. If he goes out of the office, that increases to about $8.
"We had to look at what the meal I sent would cost subtracted from the meal cost at work," she wrote. "We found that it was only about $2 to $4 a day more. At $4 a day, we would be saving about $80 per month.
"However, this is only part of the equation. There is something about leaving work, or at least your office, that helps break up a very stressful day. My husband has a very good, well-paying job, but he has a lot of responsibility, and we found it worth it to have nice, hot lunch or a tasty salad out. ... We have found other ways to save."
As with everything, it's important to decide what works for you and your family. It sounds like this reader has that figured out.
I think I do, too. And I'm definitely looking forward to a therapeutic lunch this Friday.