Lunch And Coffee May Drain Your Wallet More Than Gas

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.

  • Idiot advisor

    Yeah, I’m not so sure I would want Bruce Helmer as MY financial adviser if he thinks you can put money in a bank and get 6 percent interest.

  • hungrybutsavingforretirement

    It’s not like eating food is essential….andthe break to step out in the middle of your workday saves you $1,732,520 in medical and psychiatric bills over the course of a 30-year period.

    I will concede the $5 coffee point…lol

    • OneEyedJack

      Very good point. Studies show that getting up for a coffe and smoke break your blood pressure and route stress levels will drop by as much as 20%. Factor in the drop in medical costs and the coffee turns out to be free almost.

  • CCO is a failure

    Laughable all around. You have the blind and lost consumer Robots throwing droves of money away. Be glad they are doing it, it is the only thing keeping this fake service sector economy afloat. It will get real bad when people close their wallets for these non-essential items. Then you have the idiot financial adviser saying to save your money at the bank and get 6%. Please tell me where. It does not exist and will not exist for a long time as long as Ben Shalom Bernanke is allowed to keep counterfeiting the remaining value of our currency away. This article has caused me to lose brain cells.

  • Kelly

    a little deflective journalism. reminds me of jimmy carter days. instead of addressing the real problem, oil prices, turn down the heat and buy a sweater. we will be seeing a lot of this as the election approaches trying to convi nce the people its our fault for wasting money.

  • Anne

    Obama has doubled the price of gas and the article is trying to deflect attention from that fact.

    • Someone partially educated.

      No, Obama has not raised the price of gas, he isn’t in any direct control of it whatsoever. OPEC is. Supply and demand is. Educate thyself.

      • Reed

        Your name says it all. The Obama energy policy has been a total failure and has cost this country dearly. Nothing affects the economy more than energy cost. His failure to allow drilling in Alaska, off the coast of California, deep water restrictions and delays, EPA war on coal, Natural gas restrictions, pipeline delays, and no funding for additional refinerys are just a few reasons why are gas prices are higher. We get most of our oil from mexico, canada, and the us not OPEC.

      • Anne

        By denying drilling permits, Obama has reduced supply. Guess what that does to prices? Come on, I’ll hold your hand while you struggle to reach the obvious conclusion.

        • Research

          Gas has been fluxuating at almost the same rate as the previous administration. That’s a fact. Saying it’s raised twice as much is opinion. But saying twice as much does sound good if your trying to convince easily manipulated people.

          • Jan

            the price was under 2.00 when the big O took over.


    This is actually pretty good advice. I get coffee every day but I use my own mug so the going rate is $1.54 at C…..u (tax included). I always make extra for dinner and leftover lunches are plentiful in our household so it’s part of our daily habit to bring a lunch every day for around a $1 per lunch including the 23.5 cent soda. Financial advisors need to quit using that 6 – 8% figure for a return on investment, however. This has never happended in the history of the stock market (average annual return on the Dow for the period 1900 – present is 5.1%). News outlets should check their figures before printing facts as a little correct one (which happens to be everyone’s hotbutton right now) can undermine an otherwise good article.

  • Guy

    I was thinking the same thing. Right now I’m getting a fraction of a fraction of a percent in my bank.

  • Bruce Helmer

    I did NOT say you could get 6% in a bank. You can get 6% in a broadly diversied portfolio. In fact, that assumption is conservative.

  • BH

    Judging from their comments I am assuming that Justin, Guy, Kelly, Anne and Reed do not make 6% on their investments. How sad for them. I could show you how. But, I suspect again based upon your comments that you would not be interested in learning how.

  • BH

    Who said anything about a bank?

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