December 29, 2009

Cutting Back on Eating Out

Around a year and a half ago I talked about how we were Spending a lot on eating out. Originally we were spending around $900 a month on eating out. Since then we worked to cut back the spending some and recent spending has been in the $600-$700 range but thats still a lot. Eating out has been one of our major expenses.

Some of you might be wondering how I could possibly "waste" so much on eating out. I splurge a significant amount on eating out because I value it highly and I can afford it. I don't have a new car, I live in a modest sized home and I save over 30% of my income. If I made less money, or if I had lower savings or any debts then I certainly wouldn't be eating out as much as I do. Still eating out is a significant expense and I've tried to keep the spending on it down.

My wife and I discussed it lately and we agreed to cut back on our eating out. We usually eat out about four times a week and we decided to cut back to three times. This should cut our costs for eating out roughly 25%. This should get us down to the $450-$525 / month level.

We decided to cut back eating out for a couple reasons. We both felt that we were eating out a lot and that we wouldn't really miss the experience if we ate out a bit less. I enjoy eating out. The experience is something I like to do. But if I ate every meal out or ate most meals out then the experience would be so routine that it would end up meaning nothing for me. Another reason we decided to cut back is that we felt we had higher priorities for the money. Eating out once a week less will save us something around $2,000 a year in after tax money. There are a lot of great things we could do with an extra $2,000 a year. We haven't designated a specific thing to do with that money and in fact we may just save it. But when we thought about it we asked ourselves the question : would we prefer to eat out 1 time a week more or would we prefer to have $2,000 extra per year? We chose to have the extra money.

Why not just eat at cheaper places? If you're quick with math you can probably figure out that we spend around $35-$40 per meal on average. Those are not cheap meals at cheap restaurants. Instead of cutting back to 3 meals out we could just eat 4 meals at cheaper restaurants. In fact I could actually afford to eat a lot more if we ate at junk food places all the time. A primary reason we eat out is for the entertainment value. I like to sit in a nice comfortable booth in a nice restaurant and have a nice night out with my wife. I don't like to pull through a drive through and have someone hand me a bag of warmed over food like substances. I don't really want to trade good quality food for low quality food. Lets face it junk food places don't sell very high quality food. Now I don't mean to come off snobbish about junk food, I like McDonalds as much as the next guy. But eating a quick burger isn't the reason we spend money on eating out. We eat out for the "going out" entertainment factor and the higher quality food.

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