According to the results of a new survey of American consumers* commissioned by Visa, intended to call consumers’ attention to opportunities to save and budget in their discretionary spending, respondents report they spend an average of $53 a week or $2,746 per year on lunch. Overall, the most popular spot to eat lunch was home – 42% of Americans said that they typically eat lunch at home. Full-time employees tended to stick close to the office – 53% said that they typically eat lunch at work, including 26% at their desks.
Visa is also introducing the free Lunch Tracker app for iOS to help consumers become more aware of their spending. The app calculates the monthly and annual amount spent on lunch based off of consumers’ input and seeks to help Americans improve spending habits. Users can take the 30-Day Challenge to start saving money, learn cost-cutting tips and share photos of meals with family and friends to show their progress.
“At home or ordering food, small choices have a big impact. Paying attention to what you are spending is essential to financial wellbeing,” said Nat Sillin, global head of financial literacy at Visa Inc. “Most people may not realize that they are spending over $50 a week on lunch. Visa is excited to offer the new Lunch Tracker app to help consumers form better spending habits.”
Visa’s survey also showed that men both outspent women at the lunch counter and were more likely to eat lunch out. Males outspend females on a weekly basis by an average of 60%. One percent of people reported spending more than $50 per lunch on average or more than $9,000 a year, while 32% respondents said that they didn’t buy lunch out at all.
“Grocery store or gastro pub, don’t bust your budget on your midday meal,” said Sillin. “Clipping a coupon or choosing a less expensive item can save you hundreds over the course of a year. Splurging isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it has to fit within your budget. Raiding your savings for a fancy lunch isn’t worth it.”
Additionally findings include:
- For meals out, Americans surveyed reported spending an average of $20 per week or $1,043 per year.
- Americans surveyed said they purchase lunch from a restaurant an average of nearly twice a week and spend more than $11 on average per outing compared with only $6.30 on average a day preparing their own.
- Homemakers reported going out for lunch the least compared to other segments, but splurged more when they did go out. They reported spending an average of $17.60 when they went out for lunch.
- Students reported eating out more often than any other segment and spent the most on a weekly average at $27.47 while retirees averaged spending the least per week at $13.92.
- Unemployed Americans reported purchasing lunch out more than once a week on average, spending over $15 on average weekly.
- Southerners lead the country in both frequency of lunches out and in amount spent. Respondents from the Southern states reported eating out twice per week, spending an average of $1,240 a year eating lunch out and an overall combined average of $2,953 on lunch.
- Northeasterners reported spending the second most per year eating lunch out at $1,001 on average, trailed by the Midwest respondents at $896 on average and finally the West respondents at $866 on average per year eating out. While Northeasterners reported spending the most making lunch at home, they came in second in overall combined yearly lunch spending at $2,893 on average, once again trailed by the Midwest at $2,519 on average and the West at $2,489 on average.
The calculator and survey are part of Visa’s free, award-winning financial education program, Practical Money Skills for Life, which reaches millions of people around the world each year. Launched in 1995, the program is now available in 10 languages in more than 30 countries. At Practical Money Skills for Life, educators, parents and students can access free educational resources including personal finance articles, games, lesson plans and more.
* Survey results are based on 2,033 telephone interviews conducted nationally on July 16-19 & August 6-9, 2015, in cooperation with ORC International’s Omnibus Service “Telephone Caravan.”