I’ve got a friend who is in the process of trying to save for a house for herself and her husband. The thing is, she just can’t get over the hump of seeing her savings grow much slower than she wants. She and I were talking today and we got around to her financial decisions. As I do with friends, family and formal coaching clients, I started pressing her about her debt, her priorities, and where she wanted to be years down the road.
“Stop eating out”. I said. “You probably spend $500 eating out between you and your husband.”
You see, this friend probably eats out at restaurants 3-4 nights per week.
As is unfortunately often the case with those struggling to save, I got a “meh, that’s not enough to make a difference.”
From my experience, those looking to save for major purchases, investments or vacations, or pay off bills, almost always treat it as an all or nothing situation.
“The new car costing $20,000 won’t happen by cutting the cell phone bill”
“I’ll never afford that cruise to the Bahamas by cutting out my morning coffee”
“Houses are far too expensive for anything so minor to make a difference, Steve”
And so on and so on.
But my friend is not an exception. Quite the opposite. While she may eat out at restaurants more often than most, ask yourself now, how often do you go out to eat every month? And how much do you spend? Here’s the kicker, whatever answer you just gave, I’d estimate it’s less than half of what you really spend.
When I asked the question, did your mind immediately jump to having dinner at a restaurant? Probably. Most peoples’ do.
But did you consider going out to lunch with your co-workers? How about bringing a snack with you into a movie theater? How about the beers with your friends after work? And here’s the big one. Did you count your morning coffee?
Most people forget to include that last one… But it’s as much as part of your food budget as it is any other meal. Last year Americans’ spent more at restaurants than they did on groceries. For the first time ever.
If you’re looking for a tremendously simple way to save $100 (at least) this month, try this. Go out single month without going out to eat or spending money on any food or drink other than groceries. Make coffee at home, or get it from the office. Hold off on lunch with your colleagues and bring it from home. And don’t go out for dinner or drinks. For 30 days give it a try.
I guarantee you’ll save at least $100 and those goals you’re saving for will all of a sudden be $100 closer.