Are You Eating Your Way Into Debt?
Eating out is expensive, and not surprisingly one of the leading reasons people find themselves in debt. Most of us will shop around for the best interest rates on our mortgages and complain about fuel prices, but when it comes to eating there is often no budget. In fact, when was the last time you heard someone complain about how much they had to pay for lunch, or how their favourite restaurant ripped them off?
Think of it this way: by constantly eating out, you’re basically paying a personal chef to come and cook you dinner every night. Just like you would pay a gardener to keep your garden in shape, a housekeeper to clean the house, or a chauffeur to drive you around. Some of these may sound like extreme examples, but in reality, it is what many of us are already doing. I can’t afford a gardener, housekeeper or chauffeur and I would be foolish to hire them. In the same way, many of us can’t afford to go out to eat but we do it anyway.
It is likely that most people have no idea how much they spend on eating out each month and I’d bet they’d be shocked at the amount. So, I propose a challenge.
For a week, take note of every meal you eat out, and how much it cost. Include everything – coffee/tea, soft drinks and snacks, even things from the vending machine. Calculate how much the average week of food cost you. You’ll be surprised at that amount. Now multiply that number by 4 to get a monthly estimate. Shocking, right?
We’ve heard it all before – “I don’t have time,” “I’m too busy,” “I don’t know how to cook,” or “it is just easier to eat out.” These excuses are tired and worn-out. More importantly, it isn’t as hard as you think.
In the amount of time that it takes you to get to the drive-through, wait in line to order, wait for your order and then drive home, you could have prepared an easy and nutritious meal at home.
If you’re too busy to feed yourself or your family, then that is a problem. There should always be time for breakfast and dinner.
If you don’t know how to cook, it is so easy to learn. There are hundreds of recipes and resources on the Internet available which aim to teach you how to cook. Start with something simple, like scrambled eggs on toast. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. Spaghetti Bolognese is also super easy to prepare and you can buy the sauce already made. Of course, you don’t have to eat the same meal every night. After a week or two of practice you can move onto more complicated dishes.
When you eat out, there is no grocery shopping, no cooking, no dishes or washing up. It does sound easier. But there are disadvantages to everything, whether you cook at home or eat out. You’ve just got to decide if you’d prefer to be able to pay your bills every month, or whether you’d prefer an easy meal.
If you are in debt, it would be beneficial to start eating at home. If you’re really serious about money, there are ways to get around the pain of cooking at home.
Convenience foods, while still a little more expensive than cooking with fresh ingredients, are excellent for making cooking at home easier. Dinner rolls, canned beans or packaged salad mix can save a bunch of time. You don’t always have to think big or cook complicated meals. You can find loads of quick and easy recipes on the Internet. Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals is a good place to start if you’re having trouble.
We know that eating out isn’t as healthy for our families; we know we can’t afford to pay to eat out, we know that when the time comes to pay our bills we’ll be stressed out, and yet we do it anyway. We have to break the habit! If you’re serious about getting free of debt, it is time to start being responsible and knowing what you can and can’t afford.