Blowing The “Eating Out” Budget Out Of The Water.

This month, I absolutely destroyed the budgeted dollar amount for eating out, spending a whopping $327 – with almost a week still left to go before the 1st. Looks like I will be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few days! I try to keep the dining out budget to under $100 a month at a maximum, which is about 3 or 4 halfway decent meals each month. But this month I had a friends’ family come visit for 4 days, and then this past weekend I had a good friend from Los Angeles come into town, which meant that I spent a lot more time and money at restaurants than I normally do. I did my best to buy enough groceries for all my visitors, but as it always is when people come to visit you in a new town, you rarely find yourself at home.

Creative Commons License photo credit: eyeliam

We would often leave in the morning and not return until it was dark out, meaning that we ate at least 2 meals out per day. Sometimes I paid the full bill, sometimes they did, and sometimes we split it – but no matter how you slice it, I WAY overspent this month on eating out. I guess I should have seen this coming and planned ahead, but I didn’t – so I have some major catching up to do in the next month or two.

There was a time and place where I didn’t pay any attention to the money I spent on dining out, back when I was in my twenties and pretended to live the high-life. Those days are long gone now! Now I try to budget as much as I can, take advantage of specials at local restaurants, and just be glad I can afford to eat out even as much as I do. Back when we lived in California, I even took advantage of dining out coupons from Restaurant.com, where I could get $25 restaurant gift certificates for only $10. (Right now they are only $2 for every $25 Gift Certificate if you use code TASTE until 8/31/09.) We used them all over Santa Monica to try out different places – it was quite cool to try places we otherwise wouldn’t go to if we had to pay full price. However, I cannot use them here, as there are no restaurants in my area that offer the gift certificates. Ah, the difficulties of small-town living. While most bigger cities offer deals at Restaurant.com, most smaller towns don’t. So if you live in a town bigger than mine, you might want to check them out.

The good news? I have enough groceries to last me a few weeks now, since we didn’t really eat much of the stuff I bought! And for the last couple of weeks I have been getting all the fresh produce I need from my neighbor’s greenhouse that I am taking care of, so I should be all set for a little bit. I might have spent a fortune eating out, but it looks like I won’t have to buy groceries until the second week of September!

Does this kind of thing ever happen to you when you have people come visit? You have the best intentions to eat at home so you buy tons of groceries…and then you eat out for every meal. I hope I am not the only one!

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Comments (7)

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  1. J&B says:

    Yes absolutely, like this month for instance. We have every good intention, but then (un)expected reasons come up and we end up off track. Not that I am trying to justify it, but this is how I like to look at it. If you are being responsible and careful financially in almost every other aspect, then you are allowed a few “luxuries” like this. Breaking the budget once in a while is okay, it makes you be more careful the next time and plan better.

  2. david says:

    I agree – I only recently started budgeting, but I am accepting of the fact that things do change sometimes. And you have to let them go or they will drive you bananas!

  3. Annie Jones says:

    There are a couple of times a year that we seem to go out to eat a lot more. One is between mid-November and New Year’s Eve. Both Shane’s birthday and my own are during this time, as well as holiday gatherings and happenings.

    The other time varies, but inevitably, there will be a period of a month or so when we completely blow that part of the budget, usually because we are busy or because we are doing traveling than usual.

  4. Craig says:

    I have been the same way. Something about the summer that makes you want to get out more and do more eating out and happy hours that my budget has been deflated. Going to have to take it easy in the fall.

  5. kristen says:

    We’ve had the perfect storm of three birthdays (my son, my husband and I all have our birthdays within two weeks of each other), plus my Dad in town last weekend, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend in this weekend, and three kid birthday parties this month.

    We’ve spent more than planned on eating out AND groceries, plus birthday gifts.


  6. Pam says:

    Well, I expect to do some eating out when there are visitors. So I just set aside some budget to Entertaining visitors and add some money every month to that and use that during the time I have visitors. Yes, there are times when I deplete and overspend that category, so it is not perfect, but works for me.


  7. Personally, I fall into this trap often. Granted, I should do better but at least I am aware of it and I do not spend more than what I can afford.

    However, I deal with clients that regularly over-spend to the point that they must consider bankruptcy. Thankfully, many recognize their problem before it gets that far, but there have been a few that didn’t, which is sad…

    Seeing these types of situations keeps me vigilant about my own personal spending habits.