I’m going to share something that I’m a little ashamed of. I spend A LOT of money on food and eating out. I’ve run the numbers, and my boyfriend and I spend more on food than we do on rent in an average month. We buy a lot of organic foods, and we eat dinner out together twice a week. Plus, we usually buy lunch near work rather than brown-bagging it. Here’s the breakdown on our approximate combined food costs:
- Groceries: $500 per month
- Lunches at Work: $400 per month
- Eating Out: $350 per month
That comes to $1,250, which is $50 than our monthly rent payment. I know many of you out there may be horrified by these figures. After all, I’m telling you how to save money and manage your finances, and I’m spending more than a thousand dollars a month on food for two people?
I actually feel embarrassed and guilty about these expenses, but I try to tell myself that I shouldn’t. After all, we spend a lot less on other categories than most people do. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we both drive inexpensive older vehicles. We also rent an apartment that is pretty inexpensive compared to other local apartments and to home ownership. We spend very little on clothes, and our hobbies are either cheap or free. We travel, but usually within driving distance, and we always shop around for the best deals on hotels.
And, if one of us lost our job or went through some other financial hardship, we could cut back on our food expenditures much more easily than we could cut back on rent or car payments. I think we could get down to just $400 a month in groceries if we had to.
But Why don’t we Just Spend Less on Food?
The thing is, we both really enjoy food. We like shopping at fancy farmer’s markets and Whole Foods, in addition to Publix and Target. We enjoy cooking new dishes. There are a lot of great restaurants here in South Florida, and we enjoy eating out at our favorite restaurants and trying new ones. We also want to eat healthfully, which isn’t cheap.
The bottom line is food is very important to both of our lives, so we choose to spend more money on it. It provides both entertainment and sustenance to us.
I think everyone should indulge themselves in the things they enjoy, up to a point. Of course you shouldn’t spend more than you can afford, but you need to pamper yourself every once in a while. So, if designer clothing is really important to you, you should occasionally buy yourself those Prada shoes or that Diane von Furstenberg dress. If your car is really important to you, you should buy that Mercedes or BMW. If you love massages, you should get one every week or every other week. If you feel like you can’t start your day without a latte from Starbucks, you should indulge yourself.
But unless you are very wealthy, you can’t give in to every whim you have. You need to spend money on the things that matter the most to you. Then you can try to cut expenses in other areas that mean less to you.