SrdjanPav / iStock.com
If you’ve been out to eat anytime in the past year, you’ve probably noticed that the cost of meals — along with the cost of just about everything else — has gone up thanks to inflation. With prices rising all around us, many are ditching dining out altogether. According to a recent Morning Consult survey, more than 80% of U.S. consumers said they are eating out less often than they used to.
Small Business Spotlight: GOBankingRates Celebrates Small Businesses Across the US
See: 7 Things You Should Never Do When Planning for Retirement
Bonus Offer: Open a new Citi Priority Account by 1/9/23 and earn up to a $2,000 cash bonus after completing required activities.
Personal finance experts usually eschew eating out, deeming it a hazardous pothole for those on a budget, but there are actually numerous ways to save on the splurge. In fact, sometimes a meal out can be cheaper than cooking your own at home.
“If you’re making something you don’t normally make, you’ll probably have to buy all the ingredients,” said Kari Lorz, certified financial education instructor at Money for the Mamas. “You can easily spend $30 for all the basic pantry staples, plus another $30 for meat, vegetables and grains. Bump that by another $10-$15 if you’re buying organic. You can easily get a similar meal for less by going out to a restaurant — and you won’t have to clean up the kitchen afterward.”
This is likely the exception to the rule, however, so what to do when you know that eating out is going to cost more than a meal at home? You explore and implement the many ways to save on dining out.
Set a Budget
“We budget $100 per month on eating out,” said Mike Earl, a CFP at The Wealth Group. “We aren’t strict about sticking to this budget, although in the first 6 months of 2022, we averaged just $88/month of spending at restaurants. When it’s a special treat that happens just a couple times a month, we all savor it much more than if it was a common occurrence.”
Cash Back Offer: Get cash back on groceries with a picture of your receipt. Sign up now and get a $20 welcome bonus.
Earl recommends making a basic spreadsheet to manually track how much you spend eating out in order to stay within your budget.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards for Restaurants
“Many people don’t realize you can buy discounted gift cards for restaurants online,” said Akshay Chaudhary, a self-described foodie and the co-founder of Smartworths. “Want to save even …….