The Cost of Eating Out? $3,700: See the Gory Details
“Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for.”
– Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, Your Money or Your Life
I’m making an honest review of my spending habits. Not as an exercise in self-punishment, but as an opportunity to see how I can get more happiness while giving up equal or fewer units of life energy.
As a habitual (bordering on compulsive) eater-out, it seemed right to re-visit every one of my restaurant transactions in a single year.
Here’s a summary table, broken down by the quality of the food and experience:
Yes, I ate out a lot.
Because full confession is supposed to be cathartic, I present you with the complete, gory transactional details:
(Scan past the table to see what I learned from the analysis.)
I Don’t Regret the Expensive, Delicious Meals
…just the cheap, gross ones. Note the meals/restaurants rated “Delicious.” These are places my wife and I can go for some good food and a quiet conversation – which is what we value most.
With a year of data in front of me, I’m inclined to double the money spent on expensive meals, while (almost) eliminating the waste on meals that are anything less than ideal.
No more dollars wasted on “Meh” or “Gross” food. That’s over.
We’re Wasting Something Much More Precious Than Money
The eating out habit robs us of time. Time we could spend enjoying ourselves at home (or a nearby park, or taking a walk together).
Instead, we eat out, which means:
- Driving to and from the restaurant.
- Sitting around in the restaurant, eating mediocre (or terrible) food.
- Scolding our restless kids (and why wouldn’t they be restless and irritable, cooped up in the car and a crappy restaurant).
Excessive eating out is like any other wasteful activity: It creates deep down stress and guilt, and reduces happiness.
Occasional meals out at carefully chosen restaurants create good memories, and adds to our happiness.
The key (for me) is seeing a clear distinction between the two, and acting accordingly.
What about you? Did you spend anything close to my $3,700 eating out in a year's time?