The irony of not posting my “Workin’ Wednesday” blog until late because of the timing of my shift at work is not lost on me, I promise.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I work in retail management. I am full-time and while my paycheck varies very little from one week to the next, my schedule varies wildly. Having such a random schedule doesn’t allow for much of a routine to develop and can lead to time being wasted more often than not.
To make the most of my time, I use a daily planner. While I would like to say that I am an avid planner I’m truly just a sticker lover haha!
I start by putting in my work schedule, then personal health and fitness stickers (calorie and hydration trackers at the bottom, scale at the top), then other appointments and things that are time specific (my canceled vet apt etc). I recently added blog stickers towards the bottom to help me remember to set aside time for planning and writing out blogs, I have a gas pump sticker so that I can record how much I have spent on gas (magically still running on the $24 I put in last week!), a workout block so that I remember to get up and move a couple of times a week, and then I just fill it in with pens and other stickers as the week goes on. These 3 days are finished, with the exception of Wednesday, so it’s hard to get a feel for the process this way. Don’t worry, I’ll do a time management blog in the future. It does help me get things done around my work schedule though. Notice Tuesday I got off at 1:30p so I have things like “Take trash” and “Post Office” and “Make Dinner” but on Wednesday I got off at 5:30p so I just have “Blog” in the evening. If I hadn’t thought ahead about the lack of time I would have on Wednesday, I could have easily pushed off Tuesday’s chores until “tomorrow” and then not had the time to complete them.
How will this save me money?
Do you ever forget a bill? When library books were due? A planner can help! Also, just looking at your activities for the week can help you shave a little here and there in many ways. If the post office is next to the library and your books are due then go to both places the same day, verses making a trip to pay a bill across town and then driving to the post office. You will save in gas, time, and potentially late fees or convenience fees. Does your electric company charge you $5 to make a payment online or over the phone but the building is just 3 blocks from your favorite coffee shop? You could pay for your coffee with the money that you would save by making that payment in person!
One of the biggest “convenience” fees that we encounter and don’t even bat and eyelash at is through the fast food industry. Want to save some serious money? Pack your lunch! I’ve started packing my lunch and am able to eat for a week at a fraction of the cost.
First things first, get excited about it! If you aren’t, then packing lunch will turn into a chore that you hate. If you hate doing it you will either grow to resent it or just stop doing it all together and go right back to spending much more money than you need to on lunches.
These are my tips for keeping your packed lunch fun and keeping you interested in keeping up the new habit.
- Splurge. What?! Yeah, you read that right. Splurge. Find a lunch bag that you love; find a lunch system that you feel will meet your needs, get a couple of ice packs and a new thermos. I purchased several of the fuel lunch system boxes at Target a few months back. They retail around $16 each but are frequently on sale or Cartwheel (yes, this will definitely come up in a future post!). I think I paid around $12 each for the big 3 part systems, I found the matching sandwich box on clearance for around $4 and I bought a couple of the small double compartment tubs full retail price (maybe $3-4?). I have several small drink containers (10-14oz) for juice and such, you can find them as inexpensively as a couple of dollars or you can get them for $15+ and have them be insulated etc.
I got my cute little panda gel pack at the dollar tree! How cute is he?! I have other small ice packs as well, but I love having a couple of gel packs for days when I pack drinks as they can contour to the container or I can stick them between different containers in my lunch box without taking up too much room. Great to have around the house for bumps and scrapes too
I’m sure that there are at least 4 people rolling their eyes saying “you can pack lunch just fine in cheap containers” and I would say “yes, you certainly can. But they won’t last.” I have several different styles of food containers in my home. For example, I have some Ziploc containers I picked up at Wal-Mart for guests to take leftovers home in last Christmas, I got a big variety pack for under $10 and had several left over. I use them from time to time but most of my lids are chipped, I have dropped them and they have literally shattered. My fuel system has been dropped several times and doesn’t even have a chip or scuff.
There are times when you have to spend a little more initially to save more down the road; I feel that items you are using daily fall into that category.
- Get fancy. Sure, a plain ol’ PB&J will get the job done and may be just what you need from time to time, but is it really going to convince you that you don’t want to go through a drive thru on the way home? I pick one or two different lunch meats for the week, I get a couple different fruits and veggies, I get bread and tortillas. For lunch tomorrow I have a turkey and havarti wrap with spinach and seasoned avocado. Guess who is already excited to unpack their lunch box tomorrow? That’s right, ME!
I also love the versatility of packing drinks in a container. I can get two different jugs of juice at the store and have drinks at home and at work for a couple dollars a week. I would need several packs of juice boxes or pouches to measure up ounce-wise and that could easily cost more than $10. Having a variety helps break up the monotony too.
- Treat Yo’self. No, really, do it. I have a handful of peppermint chocolate candies in the compartment across from my carrots, the other day I had 4 Oreos. I feel like if I get a little treat with my lunch that not only am I more likely to stay on track while trying to eat healthy, but I’m not going to feel like packing lunch is such a chore.
- Don’t neglect your other meals. My shift tomorrow means that breakfast at home would have to happen around 5am. I’m not going to be ready to be awake and functioning at 5am, let alone make and eat breakfast. So, I have my banana and Clif bar ready to go and my coffee cup is sitting empty next to the coffee pot. Not only am I able to skip having lunch out but I’m not going to feel compelled to pull into a gas station for a sugary candy bar and soda that won’t actually sustain me through ‘til lunch. If I was working a late shift I would replace my banana with a cup of soup or something similar to help replace dinner. Just another way to save a couple bucks 🙂
You spend all of this time earning your money; hopefully you found at least one tip here today to help you keep a little extra of it in your pocket.
See you tomorrow for Thrifty Thursday!