Odds are excellent that you’ve seen this happen, or had it happen to you. You go to a vending machine (hungry), stare over the array of junky food and candy inside, make a selection, put your money in, and …
… the machine jams, or your selection gets wedged in between the coil and the glass. Or maybe the machine just takes your money and smiles back at you, silently mocking your anger and discomfort. Following this, you might try again, “gently nudge” the machine to try to dislodge your snack, or just walk back to your office.
At this point, you may be thinking that vending machines are not actually vending machines, but games of chance.
As with most games of chance, the only winning move is not to play.*** The markup on vending machine food is atrocious. I once investigated purchasing a vending machine route, and the gentleman told me that he marks his items up 100%. So, not only isn’t the food great for you, it’s ding-dang expensive for what you get.
Here are some ways to avoid losing money in vending machine by not putting money in them in the first place:
- Prepare your food ahead of time. Bringing in your lunch doesn’t need to be a huge chore. If you prepare a bunch of meals at the same time, there will be food ready even if you’re in a hurry to go out the door for work. Packing a lunch can also include an afternoon snack.
- Drink water. It’s not quite the same thing as a snack, but it might fill you up long enough to get home to dinner if you don’t have any food at work.
- Don’t bring cash in denominations that the machine can accept. A colleague asked me if I had five $1 bills for a $5 bill. I didn’t. I do that by design most of the time. If I don’t have change or ones, I can’t buy stuff from machines that take only change and ones, can I?
- Have a stash of something that will get you through. My standby is raw almonds.
Vending machines might be passable in a pinch, but you pay for it. If you avoid getting in a pinch, then you’ll be better off.
Do you have any other tricks that you use to avoid hitting the vending machines?
*** I’ll give 500 imaginary golden tokens to the first commenter who gives me the movie reference to that phrase. (Only five imaginary golden tokens if you use a search engine.)