smart spending

Cut fast food, save money

Cut the fast-food lunches or late-night junk food
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Cut the fast-food lunches or late-night junk food

Nibbling in front of the TV at night packs on pounds and drains the wallet. If you go through a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips every evening, you're spending about $90 a month or almost $1,100 annually on junk food.

Pop your own popcorn, says dietitian Laura Cipullo, who has a private practice in New York. Switching to a high-quality, pop-it-yourself variety can trim the cost to as little as $140 a year. That can save $960 annually -- enough to buy a laptop, 13 months of unlimited smartphone service or more than eight months' worth of power bills (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration).

Are fast-food lunches your vice? Packing a lunch saves calories and money. Eating out averages about $9 a day, Cipullo says. Pack your own turkey sandwich on whole grain with baked chips and a seltzer for about $4 a day, she says. The savings over a 50-week working year: around $1,250.

That money can buy six orchestra seats at a Broadway show, two round-trip tickets to London on British Airways (January through May), or 10 weeks of groceries for the average household (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).


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