13 ways breakfast could help you fix your money problems

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Tips For Saving Money On Your Groceries

Sure, there are "morning people," but for the rest of us, getting up, getting dressed and getting out the door to work is pretty much just a giant hassle every morning.

Figuring out what to eat on top of that? Pffft. That drive-thru on the way to the office is looking pretty good.

Americans spend $47 billion each year on fast-food breakfasts, according to 2014 figures from brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. And a recent New York Times story reported that almost 40% of millennials surveyed said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.

Cereal? Really? The original convenience food is no longer convenient because of dishes?

Seriously, if you're wanting to save money – toward a new home, car, emergency fund or paying off your student loans or credit card debt – not wanting to wash some dishes is costing you, and not just a little. If you spend $3 each weekday on coffee, that adds up to $780 a year. That $4 egg sandwich twice a week? $416.

View tips for saving money when dining out:

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13 ways breakfast could help you fix your money problems

Find deals online

If you're unsure of where you want to go, browse sites for online deals. You'll find new places to dine at for a discounted price: win-win! If you do have a particular place in mind, always check their website before you make a reservation. You never know what coupons or special online deals you'll find!

Opt for lunch instead of dinner

Most restaurants have a different menu for lunch hours, which usually include smaller portions and cheaper prices. Also, you're less likely to be tempted to go for that cocktail or glass of wine in the middle of the day, which will save you bucks on your bill. If you don't have a preference of which meal you want to dine out for, lunch is usually your better bet. 

Make an appetizer your entrée

Most restaurants list entrées at steeper prices than appetizers, and often times the portion sizes aren't that much bigger. In fact, appetizers can be just as satisfying. You can also order one or two side dishes and enjoy those as your main meal.

Snack beforehand

Nosh on something light from your kitchen that won't completely spoil your appetite. This way, you'll be less tempted to order larger portions or appetizers which can make your bill much more expensive. 

Take home leftovers

If you don't finish your meal, take home what you didn't eat and eat it the next day for lunch or dinner. You can also order an entrée with the intention to eat half and bring the rest back home--it will cost you more initially, but dividing the cost in half between two meals will save you money in the end.

Split an entrée

If there's something on the menu you really want but the price is way too high, ask if portion sizes are big enough to be shared. You'll end up cutting the price in half.

Find a BYOB restaurant 

If you're planning on drinking alcohol while dining out, places that allow you to bring your own are an easy way to save. You won't get overcharged for drinks that the restaurant serves, and you can spend as much money as you want beforehand when purchasing it. 

Skip alcohol altogether 

A glass (or two) will cost you, especially since restaurants can charge however much they want per drink. Opting to not order alcohol in addition to your food is a big money saver.

Check social media

Many restaurants will offer deals for interacting with them on social media. Something as simple as "liking" their page, "mentioning" them on Instagram or Twitter, or even sharing a post of theirs can result in big discounts.

Ask for separate checks

If you're out to eat with a big group of people, you can end up overpaying when you split the check evenly. Ordering separate checks ensures that everyone pays for exactly what they ordered, instead of having to pick up the bill for someone else's expensive entrée. 

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There's a cheaper, easier and healthier way to go about getting your morning fuel. It takes a little advanced planning, but you can eat well, plus save time and money in the mornings. Here are 13 ways to do that.

1. Eat the Cereal

Even the expensive $4-plus boxes of cereal are still one of the cheapest breakfast options around. If you're really too lazy or busy to wash a bowl and a spoon, spend a little more and buy some disposables – that you can recycle.

2. Make Your Own Coffee

Seriously. It's not hard, and you can probably get better quality beans anyway. Plus, you can make it just as you like it.

3. Just Juice It

If you can't start your day without a liquid sugar hit, squeeze your own juice at home. It's easy and inexpensive (if you choose the right fruits!) and you can do it the night before and keep it in the refrigerator in a travel mug ready to grab and go.

4. Go for Value Menus

If you have to eat out, try to find a breakfast spot with extra-cheap alternatives.

5. Prepare Breakfasts in Advance & Freeze

There are literally dozens of options here. Making pancakes on Saturday? Double the batch, cook and freeze. Pop a couple of pancakes in the toaster come Monday morning and BAM! You have breakfast in 1 minute.

6. Take Advantage of Breakfast Meetings

If you're in a position to do so, plan or attend breakfast meetings where your company buys the coffee and pastries, breakfast tacos or donuts. Everyone wins.

7. Hotels With Free Breakfasts

If you're traveling, breakfast can be crazy expensive, especially at the hotel — $30 for room service is crazy, as is the $20 buffet downstairs. Look for hotels with free breakfast options when traveling. Even if you can expense your meals, it could free you up to spend a bit more of your per diem on dinner.

8. Buy Ready-Made Breakfasts at the Grocery Store

If you don't cook, you can still save money by stocking up on pre-made breakfast items like muffins, biscuits and sausage or breakfast burritos (and if you have a coupon, bonus!). Pop in the microwave, grab and go. And unlike that pesky, inconvenient cereal, there's no bowl or spoon to wash.

9. Eat Your Fruit!

Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, grapes. They're nature's individually wrapped convenience foods. They're inexpensive and they're great alone or paired with one of the above options, or a hard boiled egg, peanut butter – any number of options await you.

10. Cold Pizza – There's Nothing Wrong With Leftovers!

Have some leftover pot roast? Wrap it in a tortilla with some cheese and you've got a quick, protein-rich breakfast taco. Mac and cheese? Why not? Who says breakfast has to be, well, breakfast?

11. Bubble & Squeak

The Brits totally get the concept of using leftovers for breakfast. Toss it all in a pan with some potatoes (you can use eggs if you like), fry it all up and "Bob's your uncle!"

12. Freeze-Ahead Smoothie Bags

If you want to be an overachiever in the breakfast category, buy some freezer bags and fill them with your favorite fruits, veggies, chia seeds, flax, whatever and freeze. Dump in the blender, add protein powder and the milk or juice of your choice and breakfast is served.

13. Day-Old Pastries

If you live near a decent bakery or grocery with a bakery counter, check out what time they start discounting their pastries. Some places offer them at half-price in the afternoons. You can stock up and freeze ahead your breakfast for several days at a pretty tidy savings.

Remember, saving money can help you pay off your debt, but can also build a good credit score. And a good credit score can help you save on interest when it comes to credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and other financing. (You can check your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com to see where you stand.)

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13 ways breakfast could help you fix your money problems

Spinach and Cheese Bagel Strata by Melanie Makes

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