Last spring, Caleb and I were looking over our budget and realized that the one area we had been consistently overspending EVERY month was “entertainment” which for us = going out to eat. I will admit, I LOVE to go out to eat and I was, 9 times out of 10, the instigator of suggesting we go out to eat. I can also tend to be a bit extreme (I deem it passionate ; )) in my decision-making, so I looked at Caleb and said:
“What if we gave up going out to eat for one year?”
He was easily sold since going out to eat isn’t something he really cared about or valued and not going out to eat would clearly save money so, why not?!
This was April of 2017. Unless we got a gift card to a restaurant or someone invited us to go out to eat (we could not suggest it!), we were not going to go out to eat until April 0f 2018. *I will say that we decided together Chipotle didn’t count, HA!* ; )
We are coming up on the end of our one year fast and were reflecting last week on what we learned through this little experience. I wanted to share those reflections with you today because if anyone feels like this is 1. A struggle in their life or 2. They want to save money — I hope this post can be helpful for you!!!
Our Reflections After Not Eating Out for One Year
- We saved a lot of money We both felt this in our budget and in the bank account. Even though our mortgage doubled when we bought our house in August, we didn’t ever feel a strain on our budget. Since nothing else really changed in our life, we have to credit (at least a somewhat significant) portion of this to not going out to eat. I did some calculations — just because I was curious! — and if you go out to eat once per week and spend $60 with tip for dinner, over the course of one year you will have spent $3,120 on going out to eat alone. That is a lot of money!!
- Going out to eat became an experience for us This point is more valuable to us than the saving money point (though that is a perk!). When we weren’t going out to eat every week, it became MUCH more special when we did go out to eat. We got excited, really looked forward to it, got dressed up, and spent a lot more time at the restaurant talking and connecting than we normally would have. Going out to eat became an experience and not just a way to get a yummy meal. We didn’t get to choose where we went out to eat the past year since we would only go where we got a gift card or where invited, but as we plan to carry on going out less frequently and instead making it more special in the future, we are excited to be intentional about where we go out to eat — taking into consideration the experience we will have, the atmosphere of the restaurant, looking up the menus and maybe doing more research, texting about it during the day and getting excited in anticipation, etc!! Caleb (who like I mentioned earlier didn’t ever really enjoy going out to eat because all he saw was extra $$$) now will say that he looks forward to and enjoys going out to eat because he sees it as an experience that we get to share together and an opportunity to connect and converse over good food and drinks : )
- We were forced to be more creative in our dating If anyone is like us, it is SO easy to revert to going out to eat for dates! There is nothing wrong with this and again, since I LOVE going out to eat, it is a great date in my book! But since this wasn’t an option, we were forced to think outside the box and go on different kinds of dates! It even allowed us to refine what a “date” is — does it have to be at night? Does it have to be several hours? Or can it just be intentional time together that you want to connect?
It has been a great year and we are SO thankful for what this “eating out fast” has taught us! Going into it, I think we ultimately just wanted to save money but we took away so much more than just saving money! It was very unexpected … but sometimes the best lessons are unexpected : )