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Have you added up your past few months' restaurant receipts lately?

Boy, it sure adds up if you're not careful, doesn't it?

How do you budget your restaurant spending? I think I'm going to limit myself to so many times a month.

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  1. John, I went through an exercise where I wrote down every expense in Oct and Nov. It was enlightening, to say the least. I had no idea I spent so much on food and wine. I am going to begin the next part of the exercise in Jan and cut back severely.

    My dogs are really going to miss their toys and treats! (kidding!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: NE_Elaine

      When I sat down and actually added up a pile of receipts I was surprised at how big the total was. I think eating out got to be a habit (on the other hand my grocery bill did go down; this somewhat offsets the restaurant bills). I'm going to be more cautious now about eating out on impulse.

    2. Exactly why we pay cash for all dining out. No receipt pile to frighten us... ;-D>

      2 Replies
      1. re: Servorg

        Is that why I usually pay cash?

        I just know that I don't want to know as I enjoy it too much.

        1. re: gaffk

          I don't want to know either. I am very careful about what I spend on everything else and my grocery bill is between 40-95 dollars a week. My SO pays for most of the eating out and tells me how much we spend each year but I think he spends 40-50 a week just on his lunches (which he refuses to pack). We can afford it and when we couldn't we ate in more often. I plan to stay in the dark on this one!

      2. We regularly track our spending and still can't seem to spend less eating out! Okay maybe a little less but its just cutting back on the frequency of special occasion dinners but we still hit up mid-range restaurants a few times a week. And in the SF Bay mid-range is probably high end in other areas.

        1. Oh, it would be a lot. I basically budget for going out for a nice dinner twice a month, although that drops to one if we have a big bar night. Then I build money for lunches explicitly into the budget, plus takeout up to twice a week. I know precisely how much I spend on this stuff, it's just a matter of whether I'm spending it on food or booze. I try to weight it toward the former. Drinks are really expensive where I live ($6 bottles of Amstel Light) and you have to ask yourself why you wouldn't have preferred a great dinner over five hours at the bar. I make late dinner reservations, like 8pm, so I can get happy hour specials in the lounge, have dinner, and then go home instead of paying top dollar for drinks out for hours after dinner.

          I also do not order bottles of wine at restaurants when I'm with less than four people, either. My husband prefers beer anyway, so it's quite a bit cheaper if I get two glasses or two cocktails and he gets two beers. And I try out new restaurants for lunch first, almost always.

          I live and work in downtown D.C. There aren't really mid-range restaurants. Or rather, there are, but they are $30/entree. I feel good if I get out of there for $150 or less with two people.

          1. Have I? No. Do I plan to start? No. As long as the cash flow is positive around here and we're filling the retirement account on schedule I'm not sweating the day-to-day details.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BobB

              I'm with BobB - and we *are* now both retired.

              Eating out is a hobby, if you will. We try to visit somewhere new each week. Sometimes, it's a casual bistro. Other times, it's a Michelin starred place. Of course the costs add up. Do I care? No - we only have shot at this life.

              1. re: Harters

                ...and eating is the one and only way that you actually can "take it with you" ;-D>