We all love eating out; there is no two ways about it. It is fun to enjoy a family dinner, take out your date to some nice romantic restaurant or to check out new eateries in town. But there are a couple of things you need to consider. First is health. Eating out too often might not be a great idea, as food in restaurants might not be very healthy if had very frequently. Then, there is a budget. You do not want to spend so much of money on eating out that you have to cut corners when it comes to other expenses. Here is how to create a eating out budget and stick to it.
Know your eating out patterns: It is important to know how often you would like to eat out. Once a week, once a fortnight, or once a month? There would be regular occasions to eat out and then there would be parties, office lunches and so on. To begin with, get to know your eating out patterns. Next, keep a track of all your eating out bills. Include lunches, dinners, coffee, drinks and everything you spend on food outside your home. One easy way of tracking this is using your credit card to make such payments. Doing this for a few months will help you get an understanding of your eating out patterns and how much you spend each month on an average to eat out.
Set a budget: There is no thumb rule for this and it would depend from person to person, but setting a budget for eating out is as important as setting a budget for anything else. Not only will it help you keep a tab on how much you spend eating out, it will also mean that you get the most bang for your buck.
Let us take an example. Say your monthly take home salary is Rs 1 lakh. You invest Rs 40,000 every month and your other expenses which include insurance premiums come to Rs 35,000 every month. This leaves you with Rs 25,000 to spend on food and entertainment. Let us assume that you can afford to spend Rs 20,000 on eating out every month. Now that you have an idea of how much you would spend each month on eating out, you know how you need to tweak your eating out budget. If you are spending more, you need to cut down, if your are spending less, you know you can afford to eat out more. Financial planners put ‘eating out’ under discretionary expenses which means that this is one expense you can cut down on if you think that you are on a tight budget. If, for a certain month, or some period, you decide to increase your savings or other expenses go up, you have to trim your eating out budget accordingly.
Plan your meals: Once you have a eating out budget every month, you need to plan so that you make the most of that budget. Eating out with your family and friends and having a good time together will top your list. You might want to eat out less often but indulge yourself in luxury dining once in a while. Carrying lunch from home is another great way to not only stay healthy, but keep your eating out costs under control and spend it on dining out instead. The idea is to plan your eating out occasions slightly in advance so that you stay within the budget. Sometimes, calling over your friends home and cooking a meal instead of taking them out to a restaurant can be a better way to spend good time with them and also getting a chance to have them enjoy some new recipe you have perfected. And it saves a lot of money too. Ordering food home is also another way to enjoy a quiet family dinner and since you save on the service tax, it also turns out to be cheaper. If you have saved up on a certain month, you can afford to indulge more in the next month and vice versa.
Money spent on food is money well spent. But at MoneyFoodTravel we urge you to get value for every rupee you spend. And creating an eating out budget is one smart way to do that.