Slash the Cost of Eating Out

Take a look at where your money is going and you may be surprised how much you’re spending eating out. Not just on memorable restaurant meals with friends, but on the countless grab-and-go lunches, fast casual dinners, and yes, coffee. Here’s how to wrangle those wasted dollars into submission.

Plan Your Meals. Ask yourself the following:

  • How many times a week do you eat out rather than eating at home?
  • Are they breakfasts, lunches, dinners, or snacks?
  • What are the reasons for eating out? (i.e. lack of planning, lack of time)

Add up these instances and consider which could be replaced by something you make at home. One swap a day will be a huge boon to your budget. Two? Even better.

Make Your Coffee. At $3 a cup, the daily coffee habit costs $1,092 a year. At $5 a cup, it’s $1,820. If you really need your coffee to get through your day, then cut costs elsewhere. If not, buy a tumbler and a decent coffee maker and start brewing at home.

Drink Water. If you’re not carrying a refillable water bottle – but instead buying bottled water (or seltzer or soda) – you’re not helping your wallet (or the planet). Make the change.

Embrace Brunch and Happy Hour. Getting together with friends over some delicious food doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Brunch is cheaper than dinner. And happy hour is almost always a bargain.

Ask for Separate Checks When Ordering. Doing this will let the people you’re eating with know that you’ll be paying for what you’re eating – not splitting the cost of everyone else. Just say something like: “I’m really trying to watch it this month.” Then order food within your budget.

Article by Jean Chatzky and distributed in partnership with SavvyMoney.

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