How often have you heard it? There is no such thing as a free lunch. Thanks, Uncle Bob, for your priceless pearls of wisdom. But you’re wrong.
When you’re on your way to FI, then you start sniffing out all the free lunches you possibly can. Like, literally.
Example #1: Free food in the break room
My company often buys meals and snacks for us. Usually these are for big meetings or other events, and even if we weren’t invited, the leftovers land in the kitchen for whatever soul is quick enough, strong enough, and wily enough to secure some for themselves.
Now that I have sworn off regularly buying lunch at work, I have availed myself of these opportunities whenever possible. So there you have it. Free lunch. Getting it required nothing from me except beating my coworkers to the kitchen.
Example #2: Business travel expenses
Occasionally, about once a year, I travel for work. And when I do, it’s all like, “WOO! Corporate card for a whole week!” I am paying nothing for food for as long as I’m traveling on business – breakfast, lunch and dinner are all on The Man. So again, a free lunch. Not only do I get to travel for a little while, enjoy a change of scenery and talk to fascinating Uber drivers, I get to save a whole week’s worth of food expenses.
Example #3: Lunch with mom
Visiting family. Come on, you know it’s fair to let mom cook for you once in a while. And she likes it! Win-win.
(Exception: I know that for some people, mom’s “free lunch” comes with strings attached. Mine doesn’t. Your mileage may vary.)
Example #4: Store samples
If you have a warehouse store membership already, visit on weekends around 1:00 or 2:00 pm to get ALL teh free samplez. My warehouse store turns into a feeding frenzy on those days, but if you’re hungry, hey, have at it. Make an afternoon of it. The free sample employees have to put up with a lot of jerks though, so don’t be one. Don’t take more than one or two, and say thank you.
Example #5: Surveys
If someone takes you out to lunch, or if you are going out to lunch anyway, be sure to check the receipt for a survey. Often you will get a free food item or some kind of kickback for giving them feedback. Free stuff, people!
Example #6: Restaurant promotions
IHOP offers you two free meals per year, plus one for signing up for their little club. Some would argue that this isn’t “free” because you have to sign up and receive marketing spam in order to get them, but seriously? Just filter them into spam folders and enjoy the free food. (Even if it is IHOP. Not my favorite grub, but you know… free.) There are other restaurants that have similar promotions, so why not? Just remember to either go alone or bring a friend who is willing to pick up their own tab.
That’s it for me, since I refuse to go dumpster diving for food. It hasn’t yet come to that, so please excuse me while I go enjoy my food coma. And screw you, Uncle Bob! Take your “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and go eat crow.
What is your favorite way to get a free lunch?