Pack lunches for the rest of the week

This is Tip of the 30 Day Challenge to save $1,000.
The first tip is to go to the grocery store today and pack lunches for yourself all week.
Sounds obvious, but below I’ll include some specific tips and social-psychological
techniques to make this actually work.
This tip reminds me of something I heard in college from a professor of mine, who made
the point that lots of people look down on fields like communication and psychology
because they seem self-evident. “Communication is measured by the usefulness of the
theory, not the difficulty,” she told me. It’s easy to look down on tips like “pack your lunch”
because it’s so obvious, but it actually works.
How much you’re currently spending
Let’s look how much NOT packing a lunch is costing you. I’ll assume you eat out 3 times per
week for lunch.
Current lunch spending: (Eat out 3x/week) * (4 weeks in a month) * ($12 each lunch net
with tax) = $144 per month on eating out
New spending to eat out: (Eat out 2x/week) * (4 weeks) * ($8 net with tax) = $64.
New spending to pack lunches: (Pack lunch once/week) * (4 weeks) * ($5 cost per packed
lunch) = $20.
So $144 - $64 - $20 = $60 in savings.
Because you can break down the
variables above (# of times you eat out
vs. amount you spend on each lunch
vs. cost of packing your own lunch),
you can tweak each of them. For
example, maybe you want to eat out
4 times per week but it will only cost
you $2 each time. In that case, enjoy
the week-old rotten vegetables you’re
buying. But if you tend to eat out at 

expensive restaurants with co-workers, maybe you limit it to once per week. Up to you.
Note that I didn’t suggest going cold-turkey on eating out for lunch…because that will last
about a week, then you’ll give up. This is the key point I made in Set smaller goals: impress
friends, get girls, lose weight. You can get better sustainable change if you slowly optimize,
rather than quitting cold turkey.

Here’s the concrete tip for today:

1. Decide how many lunches you’re going to pack each week. More =
save more money.
2. Go to the grocery store today.
3. Buy food for your lunches this week. If you want to shop for other
stuff, that’s fine, but the purpose of this trip is to get food for your
lunches. If you accomplish just that, you accomplished your goal.
4. Let’s say you decided to pack 3 lunches each week. Put 3 bags on your
table and fill it with 3 bananas, 3 bags of chips, 3 whatever. This takes
advantage of our laziness to pack lunch each day. Instead, by doing it
this way, you batch the unpleasantness of preparing lunch. Now, each
morning, just open up the fridge, take your bag, and you’re done.
(Bonus tip: To psychologically commit yourself to actually taking the
bag, write “Monday,” “Wednesday,” and “Thursday” on the bag.)
5. For the days you decided to go to lunch, GO! This month, I want you
to be strategic about eating out, so it’s not just something you do
because you forgot your lunch, shrugged your shoulders, and go
drop $10 for your lack of planning. If you decide you’re eating out on
Tuesday and Friday, enjoy it — you planned for it.
6. If a co-worker invites you to lunch, be prepared to say no. Try this:
Thanks, I’d love to go, but I’m taking this 30-day challenge to save
$1,000, so I’m not eating out as much. (This is related to inoculation
theory in psychology.)
7. Be sure to read to the end of this post (”Last things to do”). Leave a
comment describing how much you’re saving with this tip.

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