When we read a report last week that suggested that the Brits are spending a quarter of their income on food, we almost choked on my M&S meal deal sandwich! It sounds like such a lot, but as we pondered this over lunch with friends, we thought…’my god, they are right! We’re literally eating our life savings!’ and it’s no laughing matter.

Us Brits are eating out on average 1.5 times a week, spending up to £53 per meal with 18-24-year-olds eating out twice as much as their older (and wealthier) counterparts. It’s no wonder that people are struggling to save when they’re spending up to a quarter of their disposable income on food. Perhaps it’s time we tightened our belts, in more ways than one.

Time to cut back

Thankfully for me, the prospect of a house move this year has been enough incentive to reign in my opulent eating out habits. And a health kick has already made me switch from shop bought lunches to the packed variety saving on both calories and pennies, in fact, this one switch has saved me almost £70 a month (even taking into account the cost of my packed-lunches).


A report by OpenTable suggests that Brits are spending up to a quarter of their income on food, with the average spend totalling £4,000 a year.


Mighty oaks from little acorns grow…

Cutting back just a couple of times of month could see an extra £100 going towards your pension or savings, which could make a massive difference in retirement. If you haven’t maxed out your pension contributions at work, putting it into a pension will have tax benefits, plus if your employer is matching your contributions you’ll get even more bang for your buck.

Regardless of what vehicle to use to save, you could do this in your ISA or even an investment account if you have no more ISA allowance.

Quick Sum

If you were to save or invest £100 every month, at an average annual growth rate of 5% you’d have saved £15,528.23 over 10 years, do it over 20 years and you could have £41,103.37.

Putting the money aside

It’s easy to fritter away savings and reallocate them to a new spending habit, so we’d recommend setting up an automatic direct debit straight away to sweep up any savings. If you’re a 2020 customer, you can use the handy impulseSave feature to top up your pension or investments as you go and watch your money build up. Every little helps as they say.

If you’re not a 2020 customer yet, why not talk to us about setting up an ISA or saving more into your Pension?

Cheaper alternatives

If, like us, you enjoy eating out, here are some ideas to cut back and save without having to give up the enjoyment of eating out. You’ll be amazed how much you can save with a few simple switches:

1. Meet for lunch instead of dinner

Set lunch menus are normally cheaper than evening menus, plus people tend to drink less during the day.

Saving £20 – £40 – based on 2

2. Eat early

Many restaurants offer cheaper early bird menus which will normally save you anywhere between £10 and £20 per person.

Saving £20-40 based on 2

3. Trade in Nectar/Clubcard points

You can trade in £2.50 worth of Tesco clubcard vouchers for £10 worth of Pizza Express/ASK vouchers. I normally save them up and trade in £10 worth at a time, but there’s no limit to how many you can use.

Savings £40+ per visit

4. Have a romantic meal in

Lots of the supermarkets have jumped on the Marks and Spencer ‘dine in for £10’ bandwagon. You can have a romantic meal in with a bottle of wine of £10, and you also save the taxi fare home.

Saving: £70-£100 – based on 2

5. Pack a picnic

You can’t beat a good old picnic in the summer, get everyone to bring something different. In the winter have an indoor picnic.

Saving £30- £80 – based on a family of 4

6. Make a packed lunch

A quick straw poll in the office suggested that people are spending anywhere between £5 – £7.50 every day on lunch in the office. A home made packed lunch could cost a third of that.

Saving £800-£1400 a year

7. Buy a refillable water bottle

It’s easy to spend anywhere between £1 and £5 a day on bottled water alone, especially if you’re out and about or buying it from cafes or restaurants. Ask for tap water for the table when eating out and buy yourself a reusable water bottle and save yourself a small fortune.

Saving £250 – £1200 a year

All savings are approximations given as an example only.

If you’d like to speak to a Financial Adviser call us on 02380 981161 or send us an email at [email protected]