On average, people jam their face with food 93 times per month. I don’t know what you think when you read the number 93, but I think opportunity. This is 93 opportunities to flex your brain power, and keep your wallet in your pocket. Am I suggesting that you spend $.49 per meal by eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Nope. My goal for this post is not to convince you to take your lunch to work everyday, that’s lame and overdone. My goal is for you to examine why you dine-out. I believe there are only two reasons: convenience and entertainment.
If you were to look back over your bank statement to find your restaurant expenditures over the last month, what would you see? Would you see dining decisions based on convenience, entertainment, or both? If you primarily are seeing convenience dining, then I think you need to wrap your head around convenience for a moment.
Convenience dining happens when you exchange money for time. When people make this decision, they are saying “I don’t have the time, but I do have the money”. But do they? Do people that always make this decision really have the money? And are they lacking time? I’d argue that you need to earn the right to exchange money for time. I often hear from people that they believe their time is too valuable for things like preparing a meal, mowing their own grass, or cleaning their own house. Most of the time I find this assertion to be BS. “I’d rather spend time with my family, not preparing lunch, working in my yard, or cleaning my bathroom,” is the common mantra. Whereas I certainly respect someone’s ability to make choices, I think people often make the wrong choices, in this regard.
If you have any consumer debt and/or have no savings, exchanging money for time can be foolish. No one wants to admit this, me included. When you exchange money for time, you rob money’s ability to leverage time for better purposes. I’d agree that money and time are of almost equal importance, but you should leverage your money with time by allowing your money to grow over time. Your decision to exchange money for time can be a disaster, if you aren’t in a position to make this decision. Yes, I understand what it is to be busy. In fact, in the midst of a 14 hr day yesterday, I went 9.5 between lunch and dinner so that I could make myself a PB&J when I finally got home last night. Was I concerned with wasting $6 on a quick meal on my way home? Absolutely not. It’s the principle.
If your bank statement is laden with convenience dining, then it’s time to start making some better choices.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.
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