Friday, February 6, 2009

The Problem with Eating Out

This probably has a lot to do with how my wife and I were raised but we very rarely eat out. Maybe once every two weeks or so. I believe that we are on the very low end of the spectrum when it comes to eating out. On the high end of the spectrum you could have a couple who eats out every meal for lunch and dinner. It stands to reason that most people are somewhere in between the two, so we will say they eat out 7 times a week.

You may be asking, I have to eat anyway, why shouldn’t I pay to have someone cook for me. Or maybe you are saying it saves time. Well it does not save time unless you are getting fast food, in which case you are also probably wondering why your clothes don’t fit as well as they used to. As for paying for someone else to cook for you, if that was the only case it wouldn’t be that bad. The fact of the matter is that you need to look at it from more of an accounting perspective. The restaurant is a business that needs to make its owners money. From the meal it sells you it needs to pay for:

  • Cooks
  • Servers
  • Food
  • Works to wash dishes and keep everything clean
  • Electricity
  • Rent
  • Interest on the loans to start the business
  • Repay loans on all of the equipment and furnishings
  • Fix broken equipment
  • Advertising
  • Possible franchise fees
  • Insurance
  • Water
  • Possibly Cable
  • Taxes
  • Tips
  • Accountant
  • Lawyer
  • Other expenses I couldn’t think of
  • And finally profit for the owners

You could sit down and look at your plate, and look at the bill and divide the bill into tiny chunks and realize: Less that 50% of what I am paying is actually going to food and preparation. The rest is going to other stuff that doesn’t benefit me at all, a lot of it doesn’t even benefit anyone in my community, its benefiting some fat cat banker, or a franchise owner in palm beach. I would implore you, stop paying for things that don’t benefit you, and make your own food. Here is the math part of the equation:

My wife and I spend 100 dollars on food every 2 weeks. I would estimate the average lunch bill is about 12 dollars per meal, and the average dinner across the nation at a restaurant according to CNN Money is around 32 dollars a plate. So for a couple that eats out 7 times a week for lunch and 7 times a week for dinner that is 616 = ((7 X 12)+(7 X 32)) X 2. Now this is an extreme case, but you get the point. For someone a bit more moderate we can cut this in half and say they spend 308 dollars a week. So for the whole year you have:

  • My Wife and I : 2,500 Total for all food
  • Moderate : 15,400 just for eating out (not including at home food)
  • Extreme: 30,800 just for eating out (not including at home food)

Even at eating out a moderate amount it really adds up in a hurry. And this doesn’t include those families who have kids, or drinking any alcohol.

Compared to an extremist my wife and I are saving 28,300 dollars a year. Compared to a moderate, we are saving 12,900 dollars a year. Using my handy excel or spreadsheet, in 30 years we will have 4,655,181 dollars more than the extreme or 2,121,973 more than the moderate.

Having 2,121,973 dollars more when I retire when I’m 55 means that I will have about 170,000 dollars more a year to spend on food. I would think that is enough. This is 170,000 dollars a year closer to saying screw you to your boss, and no thanks to social insecurity.

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