Fans of money expert Clark Howard know that his mission is to help you “Save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off.”
There’s one simple change in habit you could make that can accomplish all three of those things at once — potentially putting $100 or more back in your pocket each and every month. That’s more than $1000 a year that you could put toward emergency savings or invest for your retirement.
Most of us spend way too much money eating out (or ordering in)
The average American household spends more than $3,000 a year eating out and ordering food for delivery, according to the latest numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s almost as much as the $4,000 a year we spend on food to cook for ourselves! Not great for the old budget.
Even more shocking is that according to research from home cooking site wellio, eating food from a restaurant can cost four to five times as much as preparing a meal for yourself, depending on whether you dine out or order in.
Doing the math, if you are a family of four that typically eats restaurant-prepared meals twice a week, you can save around $200 a month just by preparing one of those weekly meals at home! Obviously, that number gets bigger if you have a larger family and smaller if there are fewer of you, but you get the idea.
This all makes sense when you consider that the average markup on food prepared in a restaurant is nearly 300 percent!
So, you don’t have to totally give up eating out. We all like to treat ourselves once in a while. But if you keep these numbers in mind, you can see that if you make a habit of paying someone else to cook your food you’re costing yourself some serious money every time you do it — money that you could be saving for a rainy day, to purchase a new car or house or investing for the future.
Most of us go to restaurants or order take out because it’s convenient — not necessarily because the food is better than we could make for ourselves at home. But with a little planning and patience, you can take control of your dining budget.
Advances in cooking technology — we’re looking at you, Instant Pot — have made home meal prep easier than ever, so there really are very few excuses. You might even find you yourself shedding a few of those unwanted pounds!