Guest post by Carmen from Life Blessons
For the past two years, my husband and I have kept our monthly budget tacked up on a wall in our kitchen. It may not be the most creative of wall art, but in spite of that, we don’t even bother to hide it when guests come over, because over these past two years, that little sheet has become something of a masterpiece in our house.
You see, the other day, I realized how much I actually enjoy looking at our budget now. One category on the sheet caught my eye: our eating out budget. It was a big, fat zero.
I remembered how when we were first married, that was the category that we struggled the most with; our first month of marriage alone, we spent $376 on eating out! That was one of the main reasons we started hanging our budget on the wall in the first place.
Obviously, we have come a long way since those first days of matrimony. Through it all, we’ve grown not only in our marriage but also our financial savvy. Learning how to be content without eating out was something that took some practice, and here are some of the lessons we learned along the way:
All those little meals add up. When I look back over the spending of that first month, we weren’t dropping wads of cash at every meal. In fact, almost all of our eating-out bills were around $11 each. The most expensive meal we had the entire month was when we took a friend out to pizza and it totaled $30!
Eat out for lunch instead of dinner. Eating out for lunch can cost considerably less than when you eat out later in the evening. Plus, you’re usually not quite as hungry, so you eat less. That right there will cut down on your spending!
Instead of going out for entire meals, go out for treats. One thing we’ve done to trim our spending is to go out for things like ice-cream or coffee, rather than full-fledged meals. Sure, you can have coffee or ice-cream at home, but when it scratches the eating-out itch at a fraction of the price, it can be well worth the splurge!
Indulge at home. Find meals that indulge your taste buds and make you excited to eat at home. For instance, we have a cheesy casserole dish that I like to make, which has become a favorite dish my husband looks forward to, week after week. Even though it may not be super-healthy, I’m sure it’s much more healthy than most of what you’ll find on restaurant menus. But even more than that, it keeps us eating at home–and enjoying it, all the more!
Carmen lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, with whom she just celebrated two years of marriage! She writes about her life and faith on her blog, Life Blessons.