Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My spending weakness

I am always fond of the confessional style of personal finance blogposts, so I thought I would spill the beans on my own weakness. My biggest spending weakness, my gazingus pin as the authors of Your Money or Your Life would call it, is eating out.

I like restaurants. A lot. We eat out at least once a week, sometimes two or three times. We don't go to super-expensive restaurants, we go to small local places, but we can still easily spend $10 each on dinner, plus tax, plus tip.

Now, I know compared to a lot of other people my age, I don't really eat out that much. A lot of my friends, many of whom are single and a surprisng number of who are in grad school, eat out most nights. They dont', however, consider themselves frugal, and they aren't (necessarily) trying to pay off significant amounts of student debt.

Sometimes it seems silly to me to save 50 cents a week on electricity by shutting off a power supply or unplugging my phone charger, and then to go out and spend $25 for dinner for 2 in a restaurant, when I could make dinner at home for $5. At the same time, I really do like restaurants, and I really don't necessarily like having my phone charger plugged in. Part of frugality means that you save money in areas that aren't important to you so that you can spend it on things that are important to you.

But, while eating out once a week, in a sit down restaurant, is a treat and really does make me happy, two or three times a week doesn't really make me any more happy than once. A lot of the time I eat out because it's easier, because I'm feeling uncreative, because I'm sick of the food I have in the house. I get that the solution to that is to include more different meals, to experiment, to play, to have fun in the kitchen, but none of that is as easy as it sounds. I read through cookbooks and cooking blogs and touch everything in the grocery store, and I still feel uninspired.

So, if you kicked the eating out habit, how did you do it? Or if you have another spending weakness that you beat, how did you do it?


wil said...

I have to admit that I like eating out too. The wife and I have an agreement that we will only eat out once a week, and only if we can both think of a place we really want to go. This way, we aren't depriving ourselves much, and we also aren't going out for the sake of going out.

Anonymous said...

Balance. It is all about balance. You can afford to eat out if you cut something in equal proportion. If you still "feel guilty," cut out something that costs more. Don't worry about it, in 100 years we'll all be dead anyway.