Once upon a time, I found myself out to brunch with a group of people I didn’t know very well. One thing we did have in common, though, was a love of food. Personally, I rarely go to the movies, live shows, concerts, etc – my favourite form of entertainment is eating. And yes, that often means eating out. For someone who loves food, I’m a lot better at consuming it than creating it. Sigh.
But where I might eat out once or twice a week, it sounded like some of my brunch companions were eating out most nights, sometimes even twice a day. It’s not like they were eating cheap takeaways all the time, either; these were people with a more sophisticated palate than that.
I couldn’t help but wonder how they could afford to do that. I’d love to eat out that often, too, but it would not be a frugal move at all. Quickly doing a rough calculation in my head, I figured I might actually be able to swing a similar dining out budget – but it would totally eliminate my ability to save anything at all.
Normally, my friends and I talk pretty openly about money but these were definitely acquaintances, not friends. All I could do was speculate silently. How much were they earning?! What did their incomes vs outgoing costs look like? Did they save money regularly?
It seemed like such a contrast to how I personally approach money. I literally sleep on almost every purchase I make – even a small one, like buying a new cardigan. I will agonise over whether the cost of petrol for a fun weekend day trip is worth it. In short, I beat myself up over the smallest things.
Now that I think back, it’s likely they were making a lot more money than me (advertising/marketing vs journalism). Fair play. Heck, I ate out a lot last month – a few highlights here – making the most of our Entertainment Book membership before it expired. (Best of all, the membership itself cost nothing: yay for freebies.)
I love to cook, but eating out is where I find inspiration. I eat out about twice a week. I would love to eat out more, but I don’t have enough friends willing to do so. I buy lunch once a fortnight and keep it around the $10 mark.
I cut spending in other ways. I’ll go to full price movies once or twice a year but love $5 Wednesdays. I don’t really go to bars or concerts, though I love a summer festival which costs a bomb. I hardly spend any money on beauty. A haircut will last me over a year. I don’t pay for transport as I walk everywhere, though I should probably allocate my transport budget for shoes, since they wear down very quickly!
Everyone has different priorities. Saying that, we have a generation who think debt is normal and OK. I wouldn’t go into debt just to eat out 5 times a week. If I can’t afford it, I’m not getting it. Don’t forget there are plenty of people who are not saving anything and are actually going into debt to supper their lifestyles.
Oh I’m well aware, and that occurred to me at the time. It seemed the only logical answer! But now I realised, these people would have been earning tens of thousands of dollars a year more than me, so it’s very likely they could afford to eat out that much. Lately, it’s really beginning to hit me how much people CAN and DO make, now that I’ve left journalism. Theoretically I could now eat out that much if I wanted.
To be perfectly honest, I used to eat out regularly too and often times it was done on credit. Fortunately I don’t do that anymore (eat out on credit), partly because I have the means to actually do it in cash now and partly because it’s no longer my habit to eat out regularly. It could be they make more, it could be they carry more debt, or it could just be that they talk a big talk. We don’t know *shrug*
If they are also entertaining clients for their advertising/marketing jobs they could have been reimbursed for some of these meals by their employers.
I think going out once or twice a week for dinner is good going! Now that we have our own place and don’t have to fight flatmates for the kitchen I really enjoy cooking most nights. We’ve had our own place nearly two months and have only had takeaways/cheap night out four times, and once was for my birthday. Having said that, my biggest weakness is buying lunch which adds up quite quickly when you’re faced with K Rd- Ponsonby options.
I love eating out and trying out new food I find interesting. But, I haven’t joined with new people, which you just did. I hope I could have the courage to do it and enjoy and share the food.
At the very least, even if they were making more money than you, they were probably saving less than they could have. Just different priorities, I guess? I’d never eat out daily, if only because I feel greasy if I eat non-homecooked food more than a couple times weekly.
OK but even eating out all the time like that adds up for anyone, even those making bank. Were they making 6-figures!? *eye pop*.. after taxes, it’s still not 100% of 6-figures. In Canada taxes are 40%.. and then sales taxes are 15% in QC for anything you buy.. I mean, all this stuff eats away at your actual earnings.
I eat out about every day when I travel, which is 3+ months a year minimum. But that’s a question of priorities. When I’m home I stay at home and try to replicate the meals I’ve had during my travels. Cooking is actually pretty easy once you get around the basics. I found mushrooms today at the market, and made a creamy sauce with bacon onion and garlic, it was delish over pasta but could have been over rice or a risotto. Same base, three recipes. And the $5 dish will make 4-5 meals whereas you’d get charged about $12 to eat the same pasta at a restaurant.
Probably for your friends it was not a conscious decision to eat out every night, rather a lifestyle and if they don’t reason the purchase they may be close to 0 at the end of the month even if they make more than you. But if you truly enjoy it, you can stop doing other things that don’t bring value to your life, say have wine, buy clothes, expensive makeup or massages… and still manage to save money.
<3 Entertainment book! It's hard to know in a situation like that…maybe they do make tons of money, or maybe they are racking it all up on credit. Either way, it's probably best not to join the group long-term. Kudos to them for whatever their financial goals are, but I think it's awesome how you stick to your own.
I would love to eat out more but it’s just not in the budget. When I was in college, I used to eat out all the time, but over half of those tabs were put on credit cards. Not fun to pay off 🙁
I hardly eat out. The only time I eat out is when I head out to the mall or have a small trip for the day as a day to relax and enjoy. Some places, for instance, are quite expensive if you plan to eat out, even at the mall.