Canada, it's time to brownbag it. A recently released survey by Visa Canada finds Canadians spend an average of $8.80 on lunch. This translates into thousands of dollars a year in savings -- $2,288 per year -- for those who bring their lunch to work from home.
An estimated 60 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they buy their lunch once or more a week. Of the majority of Canadians that do buy lunch, 61 per cent are spending between $7 and $13 each time. Nine per cent are spending between $14 and $25.
"What we wanted to accomplish with this survey is to get people thinking about their finances … and become more cognizant of what they're spending their money on," remarks Melissa Cassar, head of corporate and public affairs at Visa Canada. "Those funds could be reallocated to something more worthwhile like an RSP, saving for a new car; something bigger than a $20 sandwich."
Obviously, dining out for lunch can significantly affect personal budgets, no matter what one's income level is. According to Visa Canada, a brownbag lunch costs about $2 to $3 per day.
Disposable income wasted
And it's not just our daily lunch habit breaking the bank. Thirty-two per cent of Canadians spend their disposable income on dinners while 14 per cent use their disposable income for after-work socializing, according to a recent survey from Bank of Montreal.
We've all heard of the "latte factor," yet a whopping 24 per cent of Canadians are supporting their daily latte, coffee and tea habit with disposable income. Did you know that $5 per day latte habit can add up to $1,300 per year?
Even your $2-dollar, low-budget coffee habit will add up. "At a 10 percent rate of return (the average rate the TSX has returned over the past 20 years), investing that money could leave you with $56,000 in the bank after 25 years," writes goldengirlfinance.ca.
Which province spends the most?
The Visa Canada survey finds Ontarians eat out for lunch most frequently with 20 per cent doing so three or more days per week, compared to the national average of 15 per cent who eat out at the same frequency. Only 34 per cent of Ontarians never eat out for lunch.
More Quebec residents bring brown bags to work than any other Canadians: a full 50 per cent pack a lunch every day, followed closely by Albertans (43 per cent) and then British Columbians (39 per cent).
While there's no shortage of money-saving tips available online to consumers — some of which we could probably do without — cutting costs often boils down to using common sense. CIBC provides 10 useful tips to help one trim their expenses.
For instance, when grocery shopping, pick up the store flyer grocers normally provide containing weekly discounts. Taking a summer vacation in Canada or the U.S. soon? Perhaps consider driving instead of flying to your destination since gasoline prices are reportedly lower. To that end, think about vacationing near home or in the province that you live.
It's also worthwhile to consider paying with cash when making purchases instead of using a credit card or a bankcard and avoid using a bank machine other than your own. If possible, try to make fewer ATM withdrawals each week and thereby reduce the number of transactions for which your financial institution may charge.
And for more tips on how Canadians can bulk up their savings, check out our Business Beat video on how to stop wasting your money: