How much going out for lunch really costs you every year

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Have you ever wondered how much your lunch costs you over time?

Visa just released the results of a survey the company did this summer that tracked how much people spent on lunch throughout the year. On average, respondents reported spending an average of $53 a week on lunch – adding up to $2,746 per year. For out-to-eat meals, they spent about $20 per week, or $1,043 per year.

Nat Sillin, global head of financial literacy at Visa Inc., said, ‘At home or ordering food, small choices have a big impact… most people may not realize that they are spending over $50 a week on lunch.’

Students reported eating out for lunch more than any other group — $27.47 on average — while retirees averaged $13.92 per week. Homemakers ate out less than other groups but reported spending $17.60 a week.

Read more: Save some money with these easy brown bag lunch tips

The survey also found that Americans in the South eat lunch out most often and spend $1,240 dining out every year. The second highest, Northeasterners, spend $1,001 per year dining out for lunch. Midwesterners are the most frugal when it comes to lunch; they spend $866 every year.

Coffee, eating out, cigarettes, and convenience store trips can be some of those smaller purchases we don’t miss on a daily basis, but can add up to a lot of spending over time.

Read more: The true cost of getting coffee and lunch on the go

How to save

Here are a few tips to help you save on food throughout the week:

Consider the cost of going out to eat versus bringing your lunch or eating at home. At $20 per week, that’s $80 per month. Invested into a Roth IRA each month for 30 years at 8%, that adds up to nearly $110,000. Think about it: You could buy yourself a brand new Tesla!


Hopefully you’re investing much more than that every month for retirement. But it just goes to show how a little bit of money can really make a big difference.

Read more: How much ‘it’s only $5’ really costs you over time

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