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Infographic: The Grande Bargain

‎03-28-2014 01:04 PM

It’s March, and as Americans fill out their tax forms, they’re asking the eternal question: “Where did all of my money go?” This article is the second of our four-day “Pay Yourself Forward” series, offering tips and insight on how saving money on small, everyday expenses can potentially turn into savings for your long-term goals.

 

Having your favorite barista make your coffee or a sandwich artist prepare your lunch sure is convenient. But you ultimately pay a big price for these little pleasures. Cutting down on to-go orders – whether it’s coffee, sandwiches or even bottled water – can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Here are some pain-free ways to do it.

 

Coffee: Brewing your own coffee with a drip filter costs about 40 to 50 cents a serving, and with a K-Cup® machine about 50 to 75 cents a serving. Meanwhile, buying a cup of joe at the corner coffee shop will put you back at least $1.50, and a latte runs $3.50 or more. You don’t necessarily have to go cold turkey off of those venti mochaccinos, but if you reduce your consumption by half, you’re still looking at potentially saving hundreds of dollars. 

 

Sandwiches: When it comes to lunch, there are two words to remember: brown bag. Pack your own food for the office, and you can save as much as $5 to $10 per meal each workday. Planning is key for preparing lunches. Buy sandwich meats, fixings and bread at the beginning of the week. Don’t forget snacks and a drink, either. Set aside an extra five minutes in the morning to put your lunch together. If you’re really ambitious, do it the night before.

 

Drinks: Consider that in 2012 the average cost of bottled water was $1.13 a gallon, according to the International Bottled Water Association, while tap water costs about two-tenths of a penny per gallon. How many gallons of bottled water do you drink? Stop pouring so much cash down the drain and buy a reusable water bottle to carry with you.

 

Dinner

Sometimes the demands of the day make whipping up an elaborate dinner at home seem like an impossible dream. There are faster, cheaper alternatives to eating at a restaurant or ordering takeout. The easiest is to head to your local supermarket. Most grocery stores today boast an impressively stocked salad bar, prepared foods in their deli section, take-and-bake pizzas and fully cooked rotisserie meats – all for less than restaurant prices.

 

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Check out the rest of the retirement savings infographics

 

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Financial advice provided by USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency, Inc. (known as USAA Financial Insurance Agency in California, License # 0E36312), and USAA Financial Advisors, Inc., a registered broker dealer.

 

Caffeine Fix

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