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Lunch And Coffee May Drain Your Wallet More Than Gas

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most Americans monitor gas prices, but new research shows your lunch and coffee budget may be what’s really draining your pocket book.

In a recent survey, two-thirds of American workers admit to buying their lunch every day at work; half admit to spending more than $5 a day on coffee.

Lunches, on average, cost those surveyed more than $1,900 a year. That’s about $400 more than the average person spends on the drive to and from work.

“I would say including weekends, I probably spend — I hate to say it — but probably $70 a week,” said one pedestrian told WCCO-TV.

That’s not including the cost she spends on dinners out.

Now, add to that your daily cup of coffee and you might not want to do the math.

“I think you do it and you don’t realize you’re doing it, and then the money just kind of disappears,” another pedestrian said.

The survey says both men and younger workers spent the most on both coffee and lunch.

Twin Cities Financial Advisor Bruce Helmer with the “Wealth Enhancement Group” says that’s because youth tends to seek immediate gratification.

“People in their 20s are not thinking about retirement yet, they’re not thinking about kids’ college education, they probably don’t have kids yet,” Helmer said.

Many of the people we talked to also say eating out is in large part about the social aspect or wanting to have business lunches.

Helmer wouldn’t be fulfilling his duty as an advisor unless he told us about a little something called “lost opportunity cost.”

If you spend $3 a day on coffee, Helmer says to put that money in a bank instead. If you multiply that by 30 years and make 6 percent on that money, it comes to $60,000 over a 30-year period.

Although the numbers are shocking, Helmer says most people won’t break a habit unless it’s out of necessity.

For instance, several of the people WCCO-TV talked to say once they had children, that’s when their spending habits changed.

As for tips that might help ease the financial blow, Helmer says it’s much easier to just cut back instead of going cold turkey. He also recommends getting the office to invest in a coffee maker.

With the money you save doing that, his advice, as you may guess: Invest, invest and invest.

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