That Smells Expensive: Why I Gave Up Dining Out For 365 Days
By Marcus Guevara
The Horror Story
Grand Total $3,587.37
That is what we spent last year eating out.
What were we thinking????
I’m not against dining out. Obviously. In fact, I love it. I’m not against fast food, birthday lunches, dinner dates and pizza parties. However, those aren’t the occasions on which most of this money was spent. Most was spent due to laziness and habitual eating-out.
“I’m tired. Let’s not make anything tonight. Let’s just get pizza instead”
“You know what sounds good right now? Thai food”
“Where’s everyone going for lunch? Let’s hit the Indian buffet”
And BAM! Just like that. Three thousand, five hundred, eighty seven dollars and thirty seven cents were spent.
Bad Habits Kill Good Goals
Around July of last year I started bringing my lunch to work so that I could save the money I usually spend eating out. That was six months ago! I shudder to think what that number would have been if I had kept my expensive “eating out with the guys” lunch habit.
My bride and I are trying to radically change our spending habits. She has a goal of being a stay-at-home mom and I have goals of writing books, having a successful blog and a full time ministry. We spent a few years of financial irresponsibility and racked up some credit card debt along with our student loans. We do just fine. Thanks to God we both have great careers. I work in the field of cyber security. I am a pentester. My sweet bride is a middle school teacher. We have never been without.
I do love what I do but I would love, even more, to be able to devote all my time to writing, speaking, evangelizing and doing cool tech stuff. Dianne (the sweet bride) loves teaching but she would much rather home school our children. That stuff may not be possible right now but we can make it possible. We sat down one day and wrote down all our goals and then asked ourselves:
“What is sitting in the way?”
“What is preventing us from making this a reality?”
It’s not just eating out. There are other things but we are starting with this resolve for the following reasons.
- It’s going to save us money
- It’s going to force us to eat healthier
- It’s going to force us to plan ahead for meals
- It will help us have a more clear and strict budget for grocery shopping
- We have to plan to bring snacks and sandwiches if we know we won’t be home for a few hours (otherwise we can make a good case for grabbing some fast food so as not to starve)
- It’s going to make it easier to sacrifice spending money on other stuff
Those are awesome habits and they will help us get at least $3,587.37 closer to our goals. I’m not saying you have to do the same thing. This is what we believe is best for us. I want to obliterate my debt and start saving at a more rapid pace. I want to start working toward accomplishing my goals and helping my bride accomplish hers. A meal doesn’t seem like much but in the grand scheme of things it’s huge because ten years from now I might be able to stop working and do full time ministry because I will have ZERO debt. That’s my goal. Ten Years. Zero Debt and Large Savings. This is my first step to accomplishing that goal.
We went out for pizza with some family members yesterday. The pizza smelled amazing but we were adamant about not eating out. As we mingled we watched everyone around us stuff a delicious combination of bread, cheese and pizza sauce into their mouths. Dianne was dying a slow and hungry death. When we got home we didn’t have anything prepared and were low on groceries so we ate some Rice Krispies cereal. I asked Dianne if she wanted sugar in hers. She said no. I poured myself some and then took a bite. Our conversation went like this:
Marcus: “Oh my God, this tastes so much better!”
Dianne: [Looks into Marcus’ bowl]… “What’s in yours?”
I suspect life is about to get a lot better for us.
EDIT: We do have exceptions like kids birthdays, family lunches or dinners, anniversary dinner… etc. However, where it is appropriate we will be either eating before-hand and enjoying company or bringing food to the place to eat there. Yes, seriously. We’re gonna do that.
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If you are on a similar journey let me know what you are doing in the comments section.