We all like to think we're pretty good with money, but a lack of willpower can often be our downfall. This is no truer than when it comes to the lunchtime shopping trip. We may tell ourselves that we're just popping in to browse, yet impulse buys can quickly start ramping up – as can the shopping bill.
Research from Wonga shows that 31% of Brits in work or full-time education go shopping during their lunch break, with 70% of those doing so once a week or more. It can quickly add up, too, with the average millennial (18-34 year olds) now spending approximately £245 a year during their lunch break.
Aside from actually buying lunch, 21% of respondents said that they spend money when something catches their eye – the ever-temping impulse buy – while 15% shop to fill the time and 13% do so to lift their spirits. Staying inside the office may not be enough to stop this kind of spending, either, with 20% parting with their hard-earned cash by shopping online.
Given that 41% of respondents admitted that they never budget for their excess lunchtime spending, it's little wonder that the shopping bill ramps up to such an extent. However, for some it isn't all about the surplus spending: a lack of organisation means many head out to buy food on their lunch break, with full-time workers spending a whopping £957.60 each year on sustenance – 13% more than on their utility bills (£849.74).
The only real way to avoid lunchtime splurges is to stay away from temptation altogether, but if you just can't resist the lure of the high street (or the internet) on your lunch break, it's time to work on your willpower – and your budget!
Simply setting a budget could be all it takes to curb your lunchtime spending, as if you know you absolutely can't go over your weekly allowance, you're less likely to be tempted. Seeing what you're spending your money on can be another core part of lunchtime money management – start by keeping track of everything you spend, and once you see how much your lunchtime treats add up, those must-have buys may not seem so essential.
Just think of what you could spend that money on instead! It can be a huge motivator, so every time you say no to something, put the money you would have spent into a savings account to watch the balance edge up, and use it for an important big purchase (such as a new TV or even a holiday) rather than several smaller ones that will get lost by the wayside.
And if you really must spend, make sure to do it wisely. At the very least, be on the lookout for vouchers and discount codes, and make the most of loyalty points wherever you can.
For even more benefit, consider putting your purchases on a cashback credit card – provided your credit score is up to scratch, and you're confident you can pay the balance off in full each month – or find a current account that offers a similar deal. It's all about making your money work as hard as possible, and that way, your lunchtime splurges could pay off.
Find the best savings rates to start your willpower fund
Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.