I have this bad, bad habit. When I go out, I get caught up in the moment and spend far too much money on meals, drinks and generally having a good time. Just this month, during the year I am getting very serious about saving, I spent $237 on one night out. That was dinner, drinks and transport home and doesn’t even take into account the lack of productivity the day after.
It would be okay if this was an isolated incident but a spin through my spending tracker tells me I have, this year already, spent 18% of my income on coffee, DVDs, holidays, alcohol, dining out, getting takeaway or buying lunch at work.
Okay, that last one probably should be in a different category but desk dining is still dining out, since there were no homemade/leftovers involved. In fact, turns out that desk dining has cost me very (very) close to 2% of my income so far this year and that’s clearly not on.
It has to be said, my cheap and cheerful holiday was about 7% of this total and a majority of that came from my holiday savings fund so technically not from this year’s income. Still, I have to rebuild that fund so it’s a definite impact. And I got to see a new country with that 7%, unlike the 5% that was dining out.
the vast night –
now nothing left
but the fragrance
Jorge Luis Borges
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up going out with friends, I just think I need to make sure it never costs me $237 in one afternoon/night again. I have had cheaper and just as enjoyable catch ups, without whiskey on the rocks, but I’ve also has a lot of those as well.
There’s been takeaways when I had food in the house but didn’t want to cook, pub lunches, dumplings, baby showers and snacks. So far this year, there have been 18 separate dining out experiences, ranging from buying a snack to concerts (and that obviously doesn’t include the week-long holiday where every meal was out!).
It’s all well and good to say that I need to have more self-control and just say “no” to either myself or others, but why do I say yes? I think it’s a fear of missing out, of disappointing someone.Of not being asked again, if I say “sorry no” too often.
Do I need to get both a coffee and a snack? Nope. Do I need to say yes to catch up with friends from out-of-town? Okay, yes, yes I do. However, I can put limits on what I spend no matter what the venue. If it’s a cocktail bar, I can just have one beverage. If they want suggestions of where to meet, I can put forward a café rather than a restaurant, or a free music event or a stroll around the markets.
As for those work lunches, if I meal plan properly, they need not happen outside of actual team lunches. I also don’t need a takeaway coffee on my way into the office most mornings.
There’s a coffee machine at work or if I’m going in early, well I can make a cup at home and take it with me. I already have some random takeaway coffee rules so why not expand that to no more than two a week? (How random? Well, if I drive to work, there’s this cafe that makes amazing coffee but I only stop if I a) have my keep cup b) there’s a parking space nearby and c) it isn’t currently being swarmed by lycra-clad cyclists who are (I imagine, never having been close) discussing all the nearby potholes.)
I have choices. I can do things differently. I can break these habits if they mean that my coffee machine will have pride of place in my kitchen one day.