Welcome back to episode 18 of Money Moment, with Dr. Jennifer Hunter. The topic for this episode is family money saving tips while on the go.
Dr. Jennifer Hunter
We live in a fast-paced society and at the end of a long day it can be all too easy to make a habit of grabbing food to go. Remember that your children are watching the everyday choices the adults in their lives make. If Mom and Dad frequent the drive-through, the children might think it’s a healthy habit too.
There is no doubt that Americans live in a bustling society and often battle unhealthy, stressed, financially-strained lifestyles. Today, we discuss financial tidbits to help the next time that you’re tempted to grab food on the go. You can save your family money and calories by leading a healthy and financially disciplined example for your kiddos.
Set limits on your fast food outings
It’s important to be mindful of how much we are on the go, and how much we are spending while we are so busy. An average meal at a fast food restaurant costs around $6. It also could be loaded with calories. If your family eats out 3 days per week, you could spend almost $1000 per year on fast food per person! That’s not including restaurant dining, which of course is more expensive, and where there is the need to tip.
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Challenge your family to minimize fast food outings. Not only is it unhealthy, it is also very expensive. Suggest limiting the drive-through to no more than once a week and save both money and calories.
Choose alternative meeting places
Coffee shops can be a popular spot for work meetings and social hang outs for teens. A small, specialty coffee costs around $4. If you or a family member frequents java houses twice a week, you could easily spend $500 a year on coffee and cappuccinos. Skip the caffeine and consider meeting at a local library or park to study or socialize. Consider occasionally allowing your teen to host a study group at home with cheaper, healthier snacks.
Bring your own healthy snacks
School sporting events are a great way for your child to participate in and support his or her school. But frequent concession stand buys can be both unhealthy and pricey. If your child spends $3 at every game in one basketball season he or she could easily spend $90 – $100 on concessions. Challenge your kiddos to save the cash and instead keep a few healthy snacks in his or her backpack.
Vending machines at school or work can be a very hot topic. Vending machines may or may not offer healthy options, regardless the dollar purchases can add up quickly if used as a mid-afternoon or after-school snack option. An average soft-drink costs about $1.25 and a candy bar about $1. If you or your family member picks up a soft drink and candy bar every day of the week for a year, that is nearly $600 in junk food. Small purchases add up fast. So, pack a snack and reusable water bottle to save big bucks.
Be mindful of portion size
If you have a teenager, most likely he or she is hungry all the time. If your teenager likes to satisfy his or her ravenous appetite with fast food, be wary of portion size. Value sizing a combo at a drive through is a convenient way for the restaurant to make more on an already large and overpriced meal. Upsizing a combo not only adds unneeded calories and fat, it can add $1-3 more per meal.
Today’s challenge is to consider your family’s on-the-go habits. What small purchase can everyone cut back on to save money and become healthier?
Remember to tune in for episode 19 where we will discuss understanding credit scores and credit reports.
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, U.S. Department of Defense under Award Number 2019-48770-30366.