3 MIN READ
Are you worried about finding out what you spend on restaurants and groceries each month? If you answered yes, you are not alone. As a financial advisor, I regularly hear the stress in the voice of a new customer when it comes to the “restaurants” expense category. “I’m not sure I want to know how much we spend eating out. I know it’s too much. ”They are afraid that I will judge. They are surprised when I share my sympathy and say, “You are looking at the Carry-Out King!”
For many of my customers, going out to eat is one of the top lifestyle expenses every month. Spending time at the gym, playing with the kids or pets, or watching a favorite streaming series may be a higher priority for you than cooking dinner and cleaning up afterwards. There’s nothing wrong with that. When meal preparation helps you relax and be in the moment, that’s wonderful. But for many of us it can be stressful. Did you know that the word restaurant comes from the French verb “restaurer” and literally means “the restorative”? Yes indeed!
For those of you who eat out (a lot), I have put together a few thoughts that can help reduce your fear of spending money on ready-made meals and help you make more conscious and satisfying restaurant choices.
Let yourself go a little. Eating frequently in restaurants or taking away during the week doesn’t mean you are lazy or irresponsible. In today’s culture, eating is usually for convenience and conviviality. So stop beating yourself up for moving cooking down on your priority list.
Build it into your plan. Be realistic about setting an amount for “dining out” (yes, you should!) In your monthly spending plan. divide by 3. If your monthly cash flows can support that number, move on. If not, you will have to save yourself from other places in your lifestyle. It’s about setting priorities.
Be effective. Patronizes restaurants owned by minorities. They support small business owners and help fill the inequitable wealth gap that black, indigenous and other colored people (BIPOC) face. Learning about cultures through food helps us appreciate the diversity among us. And foods from these communities are often cheaper, healthier (beans and vegetables), and tastier. (I became a huge fan of Ethiopian food after opening a small restaurant nearby. And the staff are happy to tell their stories.) Support companies that use paper-based or biodegradable to-go packaging. And always refuse the plastic cutlery & the bag.
Look at the voucher. When I was with my current partner, to my embarrassment, he unabashedly pulled out a voucher in a restaurant. Since then, I’ve gotten over myself and never hesitated to use a coupon. I learned that companies are thrilled that their direct marketing campaign won you over! But don’t let a coupon decide where to eat. Eating what you enjoy should replace good business.
Make wellness a priority. Physical well-being is an important step towards financial well-being. Avoid traditional fast food restaurants if you eat out a lot. I add pounds just looking at french fries. There are many practical, prepared dishes that support your well-being, taste good and go easy on your spending plan. Just check out health clubs within a short radius and you will usually find several good options. And even the delis in most grocery stores have found that offering healthy, plant-based meals is better for the environment and for their bottom line.
Finally, I would like to thank you for being able to spend time with family and friends over dinner again. The COVID pandemic taught me that these simple joys are fundamental to our humanity. Let’s remember that there are billions of people at risk in our world who are at risk if they sit down to eat with loved ones because they don’t have the means to access the vaccine. A lot to do.
About the author
John leverages 30 years of experience helping individuals and families face the opportunities, risks, and financial complexities of modern life. He guides every client to financial wellbeing by involving them in thoughtful planning, education and coaching. John uses environmental, social, governance (ESG) investment strategies to help clients meet their financial goals and align their investments with their progressive values. He takes a collaborative approach, takes into account what makes each customer unique, and offers individual advice.
Did you know that XYPN consultants offer virtual services? You can work with clients in any state! View John’s Find a Advisor profile.