One of the biggest budget busters I see is overspending on eating out. Americans spend about 40% of their total food budget eating out and that percentage is increasing. Americans are in love with the convenience of eating out despite the increased cost. Some Americans budget and plan there eating out so their budget stays intact. The rest rack up tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt paying for daily visits to their favorite take out food. Let’s do the numbers. If you spend $10.00 per day for lunch that equates to $2,600. 52 weeks x 5 days a week x $10.00. That’s more than $200 per month. Add dinners and weekend treats; I see families spend over $500 per month on eating out. I know it’s boring, but you can save a lot of money brown bagging your lunch. Bringing your own lunch carries the advantage of you being able to control serving size resulting in a healthier diet. I bring my lunch to work each day and I include a sandwich, yogurt and a drink. Very simple. Very inexpensive. You can use the savings to increase your emergency fund or save more for retirement. $2,600 per year can make a big difference. If you invested $2,000 of that money at 5% after 20 years, you would have saved $60,825 for retirement. If you must eat out, try the website www.BeFrugal.com/restaurants to score coupons from your favorite restaurants.
Another advantage to eating out less is that you reduce credit card spending. This allows you to pay off your credit card debt faster.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend over $7,700 per year on groceries. For most Americans groceries is the third highest expense after rent and transportation.
How Much Should You Budget for Food?
According to the USDA the moderate cost for a Family of 2 is about $600 per month.
The cost of for a family of 4 is roughly $1,000 per month.
Alternatives to Eating Out:
Prepare more meals from home.
Join a Discount Warehouse like Costco and BJ’s and stock up on staples.
Brew your own coffee at home. Starbucks and Dunkin can take a bite out of your wallet!
Drink the tap water. If your water tastes funny, make tea with it. This saves a lot of nonalcoholic beverage expense.
Be WalletWise! www.WalletWise.org
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