Tote snacks, save money
A granola bar from home saved my appearance on National Public Radio. It also saved me a bunch of money.
Worried about being late, I arrived way too early -- and despite having had a healthy breakfast, I suddenly felt faint with what I decided was hunger. (It was probably stage fright.)
Technically I had time to run out for a snack. But I was about to espouse intentional spending, so how could I justify a trip to a nearby coffee shop? Would listeners somehow sense that I'd failed to walk my frugal talk?
Instead, I dug into my backpack for a granola bar that had cost me one penny. Yes, a solitary copper, thanks to a coupon/sale/instant rebate deal. That plus a cup of on-site tea saw me through an additional two hours at the studio.
Keeping my frugal edge was symbolic that day, but carrying snacks is a long-established habit. If an appointment runs very late or a flight gets delayed, I always have something to eat.
It adds up
Midafternoon slump hit you every day? A handful of nuts or dried fruit will perk up your blood sugar and you'll no longer hear the vending machines calling your name.
If you're in a rush-hour traffic jam with your snarling, hungry offspring you'll be really glad you had some nibbly bits in your purse or briefcase. (Post continues after video.)
How much can you save? Depends on where you are. One airport store wanted upward of $5 for a small bag of almonds and $3-plus for a soft drink. Appalling.
But even those vending-machine jaunts add up. Assuming even a dollar a day, we're talking more than $250 a year.
The empty calories add up, too. Look me in the eye and tell me you're buying raisins from the machine. (Liar.)
Not that most granola bars are particularly healthy, but I don't eat them very often. In fact, I buy them specifically for emergency snacks. I'd also recommend nuts, trail mix/gorp (you can make your own, but go easy on the M&Ms), power bars, dried fruit or jerky (especially turkey jerky, because it's just fun to say).
Frugal bonus points for:
- Buying these things on sale.
- Buying them on sale with coupons and/or instant store rebate.
- Buying them at a warehouse club or restaurant supply store, then portioning them into a small bag or repurposed container.
This may seem like a small expense. But as noted above, that daily candy bar or soft drink translates to at least half of the $500 emergency fund MSN Money columnist Liz Weston suggests as a baseline.
- Bing: What is gorp?
Packing snacks is entirely optional, of course. So is paying $8 for a snack at the airport newsstand.
Incidentally: If you'd care to hear that NPR program, it's called "What happened to the rainy-day fund?" I start talking about 10 minutes in.
More on MSN Money:
Donna, I couldn't agree more. I work for a retail company that also sells food. A couple of months ago, I charged all soft drinks/lunches purchased at work/snacks/etc on one cc. Those were purposely the only itmes charged on that card.
It was a real eye-opener at the end of the month. $153 at the end of the month--those $1.74 diet cokes and $3 coffees add up.
I have since starting packing my own in a small inslated tote.
Great post. I'm a big believer in planning ahead when it comes to lunches, snacks and my workday. I pack my lunch almost every day and have enough snacks (mostly healthy) to feed most of my coworkers if we had an emergency. I've also started a coupon swap and we trade Coke Rewards Points and Lean Cuisine boxes for Delicious Rewards. Every little bit counts.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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