Eating Out Can Really, Really Add Up

I like Facebook.   It allows me to keep in touch with friends when I’m far away, and greatly improves the chance that I’ll remember someone’s birthday.  It can also give amazing insights into people’s spending habits, especially if they like to use those tools that let you publish your current location.  I’ve noticed an interesting trend in these location check-ins, especially when it comes to restaurants.  My Facebook friends who regularly discuss dining out, either the food or the restaurant, are invariably the same friends who I know have difficulty balancing their budgets each month.

Now, I’m not against eating in restaurants.  I enjoy the pleasures of dining out as much as just about any one I know.  However, I am very careful to limit the frequency of meals out, and I always look for ways to economize when we do go out to eat.  Discount books, kids’ clubs, coupons, and special deal nights can all help to make the occasional break from cooking-and-dishes a little easier on the pocketbook.

If you do enjoy eating out, and it is something that you can make room for in your spending plan, then do just that:  make a budget for eating out.  Whether it is $5 a month for a Salted Caramel Cappuccino or $100 a week for a fancy dinner with wine and dessert, it is not a problem if you can afford it.  However, if you are finding it hard to make ends meet each month, your food-away-from-home spending is a good place to start looking for solutions.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Army Recruiter Wife

    Although my husband and I can afford to eat out regularly, we choose not to. We prefer to save our money for leisure travel – we try to take one big trip a year. We opt to have one nice meal out a week – usually on the weekend. And as the this article says, we always use coupons. Last weekend we used a Groupon to our local soul food restaurant and a VERY GOOD nice meal for two cost us 23.00 total – including tax and tip. We both pack our lunches with leftovers or something easy to prepare at work and eat lunch out only if required for business meetings, etc. I grocery shop once a week at the commissary, planning a week’s worth of meals. This reduces stress during the week and saves us a bundle. Everyone’s lifestyle is different, but in order for us to see the world, this was an expense worth cutting!

  • Steven

    Have you looked at your reciept lately ? My food bill at the grocery store is creeping up and up. I did some math and for me and my wife, if we ate out would be almost the same per day if we ate at home. We can get some good senior prices at most eating establishments. Not to mention we don’t have to cook and use the utilities such as the oven or microwave.

  • Mark

    !My wife and I eat out every night, 4 days a week it is takeout…she can’t cook and I refuse to cook anymore except for breakfasts and lunches…it costs us between $150 and $180 a week. She spends another $40 a week for berries & dog food..and I spend about $100 a week for snacks for us and a few things for other than the evening meals. We can well afford it, and all that we own is free and clear. I am retired and she will retire in 3 years. We are not rich but a little better off than middle class.