Tag Archives: restaurant meals

Are You Going Out For Lunch Today?

If so, you’re not alone. According to a Visa survey released yesterday, 60% of us eat out once a week or more. The highest percentage is in Ontario while the Western Provinces tends to eat out the least.

Eating out is convenient, it’s faster than making lunch and – well, we can get kind of lazy. But convenience comes at a price. On average our eating-out meal is just under $9 a pop. Not that big a deal if it’s once or twice, and a lot more for a family of four. At $9 it adds up quickly, and even quicker for the 61% of people whose average is up to $13 at a time.

Who cares? That depends on the state of your finances. It’s certainly ironic that this survey was done by a credit card company. When we pay by credit card, no matter what it is, we spend an average of 12 to 18% more than paying cash. McDonalds has an almost 50% increase in per person sales on credit cards, and vending machines who take them increase their sales 178%.

For anyone who is in debt, these little $10 lunches here there, and all the time, are some of the biggest killers to getting out of debt. There isn’t one magic bullet to changing your finances around, it’s all the $10 and $20 buck stuff like a leaky faucet. If you’re broke or on a budget you shouldn’t see the inside of a restaurant, unless you work there – period. Eating out is 75% ambiance and 25% food costs! There’s nothing wrong with that, but broke people can’t afford it.

If you want to turn your finances around, you need to do a budget. You’ll need to put in writing at the beginning of the month what money you’re spending on what category. Once the budget is set, the only way to spend extra money is to take it out of another category. It’ll give you total control of your money, and you’d be amazed at what you’ll discover about your spending. I’ll guarantee that anyone who does a budget for two months will find at least a couple hundred dollars in savings!

When it comes to eating out – go for it. But it has to be in the food budget. When the food budget is done – you’re done! With the food category, the most effective way is to take the cash budgeted for food for the next two weeks and put it into an envelope. That cash, and only that cash, is used for food. It’ll be very powerful to see that money shrink and shrink – but you’ll actually see it. Paying some of it on credit card, using a debit card for lunch here and there, or buying the odd thing with cash means you’ll have no idea of what it all adds up to. But an envelope with the cash for the next two weeks is powerful and visual – and it works, and you’d be amazed at the money you’ll save.

Living on a cash food budget takes discipline. Plus, your broke friends at work will make fun of you when you don’t go out for lunch with them all the time – that’s why THEY are broke and will continue to be. Anyone who is trying to get ahead, also on a budget, or debt free, will be your biggest cheerleader. But there are more broke people than debt-free people, so get ready for them to pick on you.

One last thing we talked about three weeks ago: If you want to save some money in the kitchen, stick to a budget, and/or reduce waste, there are two new web sites that are kind of cool. Both are set up for you to enter the ingredients you have in the house and will ‘translate’ them into figuring out what you can make for dinner with what you have! The two sites are www.saymmm.com and www.supercook.com

Getting Financially Fit For 2008 – Part I

Well, here we are at the start of a New Year, and now is a great time to focus on the wave of bills coming this month, and how to make the coming years a lot different, financially, than the past years have been.

But please don’t make it like the wave of fitness club memberships where everyone shows up for a week and by February they’re all a ghost town again. Getting financially set for 2008 is one of the longest lasting gifts you can give yourself. Financial freedom really does change lives and also changes relationships, because the number one fight in relationships is about money!

1. Just once – make a budget. You cannot see where your money is going unless you put in on paper. Half an hour with your partner, no TV, and no kids. By the time you’re done you’ll get some huge surprises of where your money is going and how little you really have to live on, once the bills are paid.

2. Get proactive. Don’t make it a scramble again next year to have money for Christmas or for all your annual bills that we never seem to have money for. Open a savings account but DON’T hook it up to your ATM card. It’ll be too tempting to tap it. Add up what you need for Christmas next year, your annual car and house insurance and your property taxes if they’re not paid monthly or through your mortgage. Divide it by 12 and start putting that money aside monthly.

3. Cut up all but one of your credit cards and learn to live without plastic, and no more borrowing – period. It’ll take a month of whining and adjustments, but by February you’ll be amazed at how much extra money you have and how you start looking at your spending in a whole different way.

4. Put your list of debts on the fridge so it’s right in your face each and every day. Then get mad. Really mad that everyone is getting rich off your money and you’re broke. Start attacking these one at a time, starting with the smallest bill because it’s the one you can pay off the quickest. When it’s gone, roll that money to the next one, and so on. It’s in the budgeting chapter of the It’s Your Money book in easy to follow steps.

5. When you’re in a hole – stop digging. You’ve now stopped borrowing and living on make-belief money with your credit cards, and you’ve got a game-plan to attack your debts starting with the smallest.

Now speed it up. These ideas will make it really clear how serious you are in becoming debt free:

• Have a garage sale and sell so much stuff the kids are getting nervous that they’re next.
• Sell the car with the killer payments and get a $4,000 car you can pay cash for.
• Take any savings account at 2 or 3% and put that money onto your debt. 3% savings vs. 19% interest is an easy choice.
• For at least 90 days, don’t set foot inside a restaurant unless you work there! Think macaroni and cheese – that alone will put you $300 or $400 ahead each month.

Is it worth it? Only you can decide. But don’t tell me that you’re hurting your family when you do this. It’s quite the opposite. Debt freedom and financial responsibility is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family.