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It seems everywhere I turn, people are constantly going out to eat. The majority of our co-workers, family, and friends are eating out at an alarming rate … in my opinion.
I’m all for living the way you want to live your life. So who am I to question if other people want to spend a good portion of their income eating out? That is certainly their own choice … and I will not question it.
But what I can talk about is why our family chooses not to eat out (most of the time).
Our Food Budget
I would like to point out that our family does eat out occasionally. But it’s not every meal of every day. Sometimes it is not even once a week. But we do dine out or order takeout sometimes.
When it comes to our budget, there is no doubt that food is our 3rd highest expense after mortgage and transportation. Last year we spent around $14,000 on food for our family of 5. About 7% of that (around $1,000) was from eating out at restaurants with the other amount spent at the grocery store.
I could easily see our food expenses several thousand dollars higher if we dined out regularly.
Opportunity Cost of Dining Out
Recently I went out to lunch with a few of my co-workers. I normally go out to lunch about 4 or 5 times per year with colleagues.
What I notice every time I go out to lunch is that the average person spends between $12 to $15. This normally includes a drink and tip.
The majority of my co-workers also go out to lunch 5 days per week. So in a given week, these people are dropping $60 to $75 (easily) on food … just for one meal per day.
If you look at their monthly spending … the price of lunch would cost them between $250 to $325. Annually, that is an extra $3,000 to $4,000 of spending … just for lunch!
On the other hand … by bringing my lunch … I probably spend $500 or less per year on food at work.
So my average co-worker is spending about $3,000 per year more than I … just to eat lunch. This is after-tax money too, so I could make the case it is even more!
Investing Those Extra Dollars
My goal is to leave my job after putting in 20 years.
Hypothetically speaking … if I were to invest that extra $3,000 annually for 20 years and earned 8% interest … I would end up with just over $150,000!
By letting compounding interest do its thing … and by living a little frugal … we could have a good chunk of money available after 20 years. And this is just by not going out to eat for lunch … it doesn’t even take into consideration breakfast or dinner.
Plus, I personally think that cooking your own food just tastes a lot better than most restaurants. And it is likely going to be a much healthier option … which is always important.
The Case for Going out to Lunch with Co-Workers
Despite not going out to lunch with my co-workers that often … I do see some value for those that do.
Even though these people are dropping $12 to $15 a day on lunch, it is something that is important to them. There is an important social aspect to eating out with colleagues. Many of these people also use their lunch as their big meal of the day and cook at home for breakfast and dinner.
Just like with anything else that deals with money … it is important to spend money on the things that provide value to you. For some, that value may be in eating out. Others may find value in travel or in our case … we are finding value saving more of our money so we can earn that $150,000 I spoke about earlier.
That kind of savings provides value for our family. One day that extra money can help to buy more freedom for us to choose the things we want to do.
Where do you find value in the things your buy? Is it travel? Dining out? Saving and investing?
2 Replies to “Man People Spend a Lot of Cash Going Out to Eat”
Eating out every once in a while won’t break the budget as long as it’s not some fancy expensive place. Dining out is ‘Entertainment’ in our budget, not food. Because it really is about the experience and not nurishment. That said, we don’t eat out much because our kids are so disruptive, it’s not fun at this point in our lives.
I agree on the kids and eating out! It seems like anytime we do eat out with the entire family, it is stressful with the kiddos.