As you learn to live life in a way that does not involve bleeding cash out of your eyes and ears, you may realize that some waste cutting techniques require more clever planning than others. For young people who aspire to be better savers, there is one issue in particular that seems to contribute to a higher overall degree of wastefulness…food.
You know, you’re out with your friends just hanging out. Somebody suggests you all go get some panda express or some other sit down place. It is very easy to drop $10-$15 on a quick meal with friends. Your friend’s intentions were good, finding a place to hang, joke, and bond over good food. However, the habit of eating prepped convenience food throws a wrench into your financial engine.
When did well all become conditioned to spending money in order to be social? When we are alone, we seem to see the logic in eating at home and cooking food ourselves. However as soon as we are put into a group setting the only option for satisfying hunger is to go out? Sometimes it is not even hunger that drives a group of friends to the restaurant or bar. People will often alleviate boredom with eating, a habit that stems from not being creative enough to find novel and fun things to do.
The next time someone in your group suggests going out, suggest you all get together and cook! The time will be much better spend creating something together. You will still get to joke and bond over some good food. And besides, your future self will appreciate the lack of restaurant flabby physique.
For times when you are not in a situation when you can cook, such as hiking, being out on a long bike ride, or just being out of town, always have some food stashed into a backpack. There are many portable foods that are healthy and tasty. I spend much of my time out and about, here are some common I bring along:
- Almonds: Nutrient rich a full of healthy fats, plenty of calories to keep you going all day
- Sunflower seeds
For a wider range of foods, tupperware containers are your best friend.
Healthy and cost effective foods are easy to come by with a bit of smart shopping. Say, this is actually a great follow up article to my groceries post earlier this week.
There may be times your social circle persists on the getting convenience food, this is okay. We are all free to spend our money how we like, all without giving up quality time with friends. You can still maintain your lifestyle of killing your working years without hurting your social life. There is nothing wrong with cracking open your tupperware in panda express and enjoying a nice evening with friends.
A similar yet more extreme wasteful habit of young people is to throwing $40 out on a night of bar hopping. The same approach can be taken with bars. If your lot of friends are ambitious to create, home brewing can be hours of fun. If chemistry isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of excellent craft beers available that don’t charge $7 a drink.
For those of you who would argue “but we go to the bars for the experience!” Bullshit, hanging out with good friends is what makes your night, not the environment you are in. If you go to bars to meet new people, there are these neat little things called flasks. Just make sure they stay hidden until you are in the bathroom. And besides, you don’t need to have three drinks to meet new people, going to bars to socialize is free.
Of all the little things you can waste your precious time working to pay for, food is among the quickest to add up. I recall a time in my life when I had not yet learned this valuable lesson. My first winter break in college, a period of no more than 6 weeks, I dropped over $700 on food. I ate so many tasty Chinese takeout meals, so many chipotle burritos, and many fancy pants sit down meals. That $700 invested over a ten year period would amount to over $1400!
You know what I remember most about that break looking back? I remember turning cardboard boxes into skis, playing sherades with old high school friends at a reunion, and my good friend getting his first girlfriend that new years. Memories are not made through forking over working years for food, the memories that really stick with us are often free.
It was from this experience I learned one of many lessons that is giving me a life of greater leisure.
Sustenance comes from your backpack, not from your wallet.
Thanks for reading
Challenge: Stop buying food out. Don’t just reduce your budget for it, stop it all together for awhile. Start having your own food stash with you and see if it impedes the creation of happy memories in your life.