Paycheck Chronicles

Eating Out Can Really, Really Add Up

I like Facebook.   It allows me to keep in touch with friends when I'm far away, and greatly improves the chance that I'll remember someone's birthday.  It can also give amazing insights into people's spending habits, especially if they like to use those tools that let you publish your current location.  I've noticed an interesting trend in these location check-ins, especially when it comes to restaurants.  My Facebook friends who regularly discuss dining out, either the food or the restaurant, are invariably the same friends who I know have difficulty balancing their budgets each month.

Now, I'm not against eating in restaurants.  I enjoy the pleasures of dining out as much as just about any one I know.  However, I am very careful to limit the frequency of meals out, and I always look for ways to economize when we do go out to eat.  Discount books, kids' clubs, Restaurant.com coupons, and special deal nights can all help to make the occasional break from cooking-and-dishes a little easier on the pocketbook.

If you do enjoy eating out, and it is something that you can make room for in your spending plan, then do just that:  make a budget for eating out.  Whether it is $5 a month for a Salted Caramel Cappuccino or $100 a week for a fancy dinner with wine and dessert, it is not a problem if you can afford it.  However, if you are finding it hard to make ends meet each month, your food-away-from-home spending is a good place to start looking for solutions.

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