Americans Spend More on Lunch and Coffee Than Commuting

All those morning lattes and afternoon lunches out are starting to add up for American workers, new research shows.

A survey by finance recruiting firm Accounting Principals has revealed that 50 percent of the American work force spends an average of $1,000 a year on coffee, with many shelling out twice as much for lunch.

Men and younger employees are spending the most on their caffeine cravings, the report shows. Men spend more than $25 a week on coffee, which is nearly twice as much as women dole out, while younger workers under the age of 35 spend $10 a week more than their coworkers over the age of 45.

When it comes to lunch, two-thirds of those surveyed said they buy it instead of bring their own, spending an average of nearly $2,000 a year on the midday meal.

Men and younger employees are the spending culprits on lunch as well. Men spend nearly twice as much as women each week on lunch, while employees under the age of 34 spend nearly $14 a week more than those over 45.

The research suggests many employees don't necessarily understand how much they are spending on lunch, compared to other daily costs such as commuting to and from work.

When asked which professional expense they'd want to be reimbursed for, 42 percent of the surveyed employees chose commuting costs and only 11 percent chose lunch, even though the average employee spends $500 more per month eating out then getting to and from the office.

Workers may be starting to realize lunch's impact on their bottom line, with 35 percent of those surveyed making it a 2012 financial goal to bring their meal to work each day.

Companies looking to keep employees happy should consider beefing up their coffee and food selections, according to the report. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed wish their employer would invest in better vending-machine snacks and java in the office.

The research was based on surveys of 1,000 U.S. employees.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who spent 10 years working as a newspaper reporter before working in public relations. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.