Eating out is something that I truly love. My husband has learned throughout the years that eating out is a gift that I love to receive. I enjoy sitting down to a nice meal at Olive Garden, talk with my husband (without being interrupted), and take in the atmosphere. But when I look at how much money can be saved from going home as opposed to going out to eat it causes me to have a different perspective on eating out.
Food is a Line Item on your Budget That is Variable
When working on our budget every month food is about the only line item that can change. It is hard to change your electric bill unless you want to go without electricity for a few months (which I refuse to do in Texas!). We have noticed that food is the easiest item to add to or take away from when you are looking for some extra cash. So, think twice before using your money to just go grab a quick bite somewhere.
Eating at Home Saves Money
There was one point in our pre-budgeting marriage that we thought we would look in our checkbook to see how much money we were spending on food. (I’m sure this was a time when we were needing extra money and didn’t know where else to look.) What we found out was astonishing! We were spending around $700 a month on food to feed two people. I’m not sure how long this pattern continued (again – this was our marriage before we had a budget), but if you multiply that times 12 months that would equal $8,400 a year. So, eating at home is an easy choice because it saves money.
Left-Overs Make More Sense (or is it Cents?)
It makes more sense to just go to the store and grab a bite than always heading out to a restaurant. There are many nights when you will come home exhausted and don’t feel like cooking a big meal. When you feel like just stopping through a drive-thru, keep driving. Stop in at your local grocery store and go grab a Rotisserie chicken or a frozen lasagna. This proves to make more “cents” because you then have left-overs that can be taken for lunches the next day or eaten as a meal tomorrow night.
Tell the Kids to “Zip It, Happy Meal!”
Dave Ramsey shares a heart-breaking story in his series, Financial Peace University, of a single mother who has had a horrible day. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. So, on the way home she heard the kids in the back screaming, “McDonald’s! McDonald’s!”. She pulled into a local ATM, pulled out $20 to buy Happy Meals, and it wound up costing her $150 in overdraft fees. Heart-breaking! So, when you hear the kids screaming, “McDonald’s! McDonald’s!” just turn around and say “Zip it, Happy Meal! It’s not in the budget!!!”