The “lunch bloat” is real. Going back to the office costs us a fortune

Here are some of the daily costs that have escalatedAnd Making returning to office life after the pandemic more expensive.

The Labor Department reported earlier this month that the index of dining out increased 7.2% from a year ago. Food prices rose 9.4% in April from the same period last year — the biggest jump since April 1981, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported. Grocery store prices were up 10.8% from the year to April.
Office workers see rising costs of everything from morning coffee to lunchtime salad: Starbucks raised prices in the US earlier this year and in October 2021 — and said prices may continue to rise.

“We have additional pricing actions planned during the budget for this year,” then-CEO Kevin Johnson said during an analyst call in February, citing cost pressures such as inflation.

In its latest earnings report, the company said that the authorities chain Sweetgreen has raised its menu prices by 10% since the beginning of 2021.

He said “lunch inflation is 100% real, everything is more expensive” Kelly Yao McClay, who lives in Potomac, Maryland. “Previously, you could have lunch for $7 to $12. Now there is no way to get a decent lunch for less than $15.”

Yau McClay had just started working in branding and marketing for a real estate company as everything shut down in April 2020. She was working remotely full time until October 2021. But now she works on a mixed schedule, goes to the office three days a week, and estimates she spends $30 to $35 per day on work-related expenses, such as lunch, coffee, snacks, and parking.

But for other workers, returning to the office has brought some relief — at least on some fronts. Consumers have changed the way they spend time during the pandemic, as expenses for eating out in restaurants have been replaced by higher grocery bills and more meals at home.

Sarah Hill, who works in the insurance industry in Buffalo, New York, saw her food budget increase when she and her four children were home full time.

“I was eating more because I’m closer to the kitchen,” Hill said. “My food spending was increasing because we were all at home.”

After working full-time remotely at the height of the pandemic, she said He now goes to the office two days a week.

Before the pandemic, she was spending $25 to $30 a day on breakfast and lunch when working from the office. But now, with so many food companies shutting down near her job, she regularly brings lunches with her.

“I pretty much bring things from home, whether it’s leftovers or a cup of pasta to get me through the day.

go to the office

And a return to commuting means more gas usage.

With gas prices hitting record levels recently, this is an expensive time to fill up more frequently. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is now $4.60. In February 2020, it was $2.44.
High gas prices have forced Mike Tobin (pictured here with his son) to spend more money on his commutes.

In Orlando, Florida, Mike Tobin upgraded to a minibus in August 2020. At the time, he said the cost to fill the tank was about $40 — but now it’s closer to $75.

“The most important thing that drives me is going to the office…everything else is really close to where we live,” said Tobin, who works for a wholesale electricity distribution company.

For Hill, the high prices at the pump prompted her to change her routine to try filling her tank only once a week. She fills her truck with premium gas, which she said costs between $110 and $120 a tank.

“That’s too crazy for gas,” Hill said. “I try to pack up the days I go to the office — if I can do anything right after work or on my lunch break for my hour, I’ll try to squeeze things in because… it’s a day when I actually drive.”

She tries not to leave her house for the three days she works from home.

For Yao McClay, any day she goes to the office, she has to pay for parking. Its cost was $1 an hour, but it increased by 50 cents earlier this year. Now you pay $12 a day – up from $8.

Giving up comfortable sweatpants and getting into office clothes again is also costly. Clothing prices rose 5.4% in April compared to the same period last year.

“Now that I’m in the office, I have to go buy new makeup kits – so I’m spending the money there when I wasn’t before,” Yao McClay said. “Things you used to spend money on, like haircuts, makeup, manicures and pedicures and updating your wardrobe, these things were basically on hold for a couple of years. Yes, I used to spend them before…I used to not spend that was really nice. And now Everything became more expensive.”

baby care

Childcare costs tend to be one of the biggest expenses in Working parents’ budgets – this is getting more and more expensive for some parents, too.

On days she works from the office, Kelly Yao McClay estimates she spends about $35 on food and parking.

In 2020, the national average annual cost of child care was $10,174, according to Child Care Aware of America.

In September 2020, Yao McClay put her three-year-old daughter into a new full-time daycare for $2,150 a month. Although childcare tends to get cheaper as a child gets older, a series of price increases have eaten up those savings, Yao McClay said.

“Every time you bump into it [to an older age group]… Later, they will announce: “Sorry, we have another price increase,” Yao McClay said. “Between when we started there and now, the price was [for her current class] The net went up nearly $200.”

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