April 8, 2008

Spending a lot on eating out

I looked at my credit card balance* just now and it was a bit high. There were a couple medical items that aren't typical but that still didn't account for the higher total. I counted up the bills for eating out and they are nearly $900. Yes that's a lot of money and definitely not frugal. Let me explain..

Eating out is one of my main financial indulgences. I don't spend much money on frivolous things overall. Other than eating out I do have a cable bill and Netflix for entertainment. But I'm frugal in general and I spend less than I make. I save a good 20-30% of my gross income every year. My personal view is that we should be happy with spending money on things we value rather than being too much of a penny pincher and someone who takes being frugal to the extreme. So I choose to spend money on eating out because its something I enjoy and I'm still responsible with my finances in general. If I was living paycheck to paycheck, or I wasn't saving anything or I had large outstanding credit card debt then I would have to cut back on the frivolous expenses and stop eating out.

Even though I do value eating out and consider it an OK expense I still think I can cut back some. I eat lunch at work every day of the week. This costs me about $5 a day on average. Our café is actually pretty good and the food is worth the price. But that comes out to around $100 a month that I'm spending on lunch. I could make a pretty good lunch at home for about $2.5 I'm sure. So bagging my lunch would save me $50 a month or $600 a year.

That $600 a year is quite a lot of money. Do I enjoy eating lunch in the café that much more than a bagged lunch enough to justify spending $600 a month? Probably not no. If I did really enjoy eating lunch out then I'd spend the money. But in this case I think I've found an area where I can fairly easily reduce my spending.

I also spend a lot of money eating out for dinner and breakfast. Of the total $900 I spent in the past month a full $800 of it was for dinner and breakfast. That includes both myself and my fiancé so its about $400 per person for a month. We spent about $600 on dinners and $200 on breakfasts. We both enjoy eating out very much and I wouldn't really want to stop doing it. However I can look for ways to save money eating out. There are discount programs and coupons to look for and take advantage of. In coming posts I'll discuss some of those.

*note I do pay off the credit card bill every month

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