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Dining Out
Old 09-04-2006, 09:16 PM   #1
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Dining Out

After reading "Did your spending surprise you?", I decided to take a look at our dining out for the past 5 years. We use Quicken, and for comparison I ran reports for Jan-Aug for 2002-2006, inclusive. Primarily, I wanted to know if our dining out had decreased and what the average cost per event was. I excluded a couple of one time bashes for our daughters graduation, etc. I also wanted to know what percentage of days we dine out (number of events divided by number of days between Jan and Aug).

What I found out was (year, average cost per event, % days dined out)
2002 $(22.86) 28%
2003 $(27.69) 40%
2004 $(24.29) 45%
2005 $(28.85) 31%
2006 $(24.69) 25%

I feel that we hardly ever dine out, and I was surprised to see that this year we are still at 25%. It feels like 10% or less to me. I am glad to see the percentage slipping since I've retired.
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-04-2006, 09:45 PM   #2
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Re: Dining Out

Is that for two people? Do you include tax & tip?
We almost always spend more than $30.00. What kind of places do you eat out at?
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-04-2006, 10:51 PM   #3
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Re: Dining Out

Wow!
What constitutes dining out for you?* Bagel or donut for breakfast? Lunches for $5 - $10 each?* Take out?* Full dinners?

We eat out alot, but usually eat only half our servings and bring the other half home.* A good example of this is a burger from Chili's.* Even our kids have gotten into this habit.* But sometimes as soon as they walk in the door, they eat their leftovers* *:P

Edit to add: Last month's credit card bill shows 14 charges for eating out. And 8 days of last month, we were on vacation and cooked in all 8 days. Maybe it's time to cut back a little bit.
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 12:09 AM   #4
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Re: Dining Out

Our bill is usually over $70 for 4 of us.
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 12:18 AM   #5
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Re: Dining Out

DW & I generally follow the rule of not eating out more than three times a day.

She recently retired and so far that hasn't changed. Now she can meet me for lunch!
But we love cheaper ethnic (Mexican, Thai, Chinese, whatever) so it may not cost much more than eating in.
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 07:18 AM   #6
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Re: Dining Out

DW and I eat out a lot, probably averaging three dinners per week, maybe 3.5. We never eat/ate many lunches out at work so that balanced things a little. On the cost side, however, my DS and his girlfriend live nearby so we take them out a lot, doubling those meal costs. We may cut back when we are both retired but so far with me ERd we still eat out at about our former rate.

We budget a huge expense for food during ER.
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 08:22 AM   #7
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Re: Dining Out

Does buying 2 ice cream cones at Safeway ($2) after a 4 mile walk on the C&O canal trail count as "eating out"? Or the mini-Hershey's bar ($0.15) I sometimes buy at the concession stand for an afternoon snack? If so, then I ate out twice in the last week.
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 08:33 AM   #8
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Re: Dining Out

Our expenses include everything from dinner for 4 *at $150.00 to Taco Bell for $5.00. *The figures do include tax and tip since we use our debit card 99% of the time. *The majority of the time its lunch or dinner for 2. *Being in the SW we like Mexican which is probably less expensive than some other fare. *If we have steak, its usually at home -- can't see paying restaurant prices for something so simple that we can do just as well (and as quick) at home. *Gotta love those Costco ribeyes! This category includes only "meals" out -- not quick stop items like coffees or ice creams.

Last night I had the thought that rather than dividing by the number of days in the period, I should divide by the number of meals (days x 3). *This makes the numbers more "palatable" and takes into consideration that on some busy days, we might eat both lunch and dinner out. *


Days Meals
2002 33% 10.9%
2003 48% 15.9%
2004 53% 17.6%
2005 36% 12.1%
2006 29% 10.2%

In 2003/2004 these numbers include some (but not all) work lunches. *I usually paid cash for those out of my weekly cash budget, and used the debit card infrequently.

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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 09:09 AM   #9
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Re: Dining Out

We eat out (or get takeout) for taste sensations, not for convenience now that I'm retired, so we choose restaurants that serve stuff we don't make at home--barbecue, ethnic, wood-fired pizza, creative cuisine.

These days we typically get takeout once a week (most likely sushi, Chinese soup, or Vietnamese noodles) and go out for a nice dinner once a month or two. DH eats lunch at the faculty cafeteria 2-3x a week during school ($4.25), and I go out to lunch with someone maybe 3x a month. We travel for several weeks a year and do a lot of eating out then--maybe that's why I don't feel much desire to eat out when we're at home. Anytime I suggest eating out, my husband says Yes, so I have to be careful how I use my power .
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 09:18 AM   #10
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Re: Dining Out

We used to go out every Friday until May of 2005 when we cut way back. *A big difference is that now we always split a meal. *With today's supersized portions, it's always plenty, and we have just as much of the fun experience of going out for about half the price.

I didn't track restaurant eating prior to that but here is what it was for last year (took out Thanksgiving dinner on the road and Anniversary bash). *This probably misses a bunch of purchases of Subway sandwiches, for which we usually use cash:

Average Cost * % of days
$(15.27) * * * * * 3.6

Code:
11/19/05	Calecos Downtown		-34.11
11/23/05	Tgi Friday's #1491 *St Loui Mo	-22.91
01/05/06	Denny's			-14.89
01/07/06	Golden Harvest Cafe 		-11.12
04/18/06	Golden Harvest Restaurant	-10.13
05/13/06	Peppers Restaurant		-13.48
05/20/06	Porter Street Bbq *		-8.88
06/24/06	Luzmilas Mexican Rs 		-11.79
08/06/06	Elmer's Restaurant *Albany *Or	-14.98
08/15/06	Super Mongolian Gri Yakima *Wa	-16.18
08/16/06	El Sarape #III * * *Shelton Wa	-14.18
08/17/06	The Tides * * * * * Hoodspo Wa	-13.80
08/19/06	Heaven On Earth * * Azalea *Or	-12.00
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 09:23 AM   #11
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Re: Dining Out

P.S. The key with Subway is to ask which bread is the freshest. When they say "They're all fresh" you say "Which came out of the oven last?" Use that type of bread, and try the veggie sub.

Although they advertise that the subs have very little fat, the fine print states that that is with no condiments (no mayo, cheese, oil, etc.). I had them prepare it that way (first time anyone asked for that), and it was OK, but not great.
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 09:25 AM   #12
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Re: Dining Out

Quote:
Anytime I suggest eating out, my husband says Yes, so I have to be careful how I use my power .
Does it work that way in other areas too?
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 09:33 AM   #13
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Re: Dining Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Does it work that way in other areas too?
Why, yes
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 09:36 AM   #14
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Re: Dining Out

Oops, there was some word play in there that I didn't intend, sorry.* * I just meant -- well, ah, oops, never mind.*
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 09:43 AM   #15
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Re: Dining Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Oops, there was some word play in there that I didn't intend, sorry. I just meant -- well, ah, oops, never mind.
And I was thinking the beav had grabbed your keyboard while you weren't looking...

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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 10:15 AM   #16
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Re: Dining Out

I did the calculations on our dining out habits for my recent budget revisions. Average of 15.2 times per month, with an average purchase of $9.47.

This includes all credit card transactions at restaurants (we charge almost all restaurant purchases, including fast food) over the course of 6 months. This includes the $2.69 for a burger and fries at McDonald's, the $8.00 for two of us at Taco Bell, and more expensive meals at sit down mexican, chinese, and other ethnic restaurants.

Many meals were eaten alone (lunches at work). We usually go out for lunch instead of dinner (when it is cheaper) and use coupons frequently.

Cash purchases weren't included - probably accounts for 2-3 times per month beyond what the credit card analysis included.

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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 10:41 AM   #17
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Re: Dining Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
We used to go out every Friday until May of 2005 when we cut way back. A big difference is that now we always split a meal. With today's supersized portions, it's always plenty, and we have just as much of the fun experience of going out for about half the price.
T-Al: DW and I usually split the appetizer and/or salad, but lately I have been thinking along those lines about entre's as well - especially if we have an appetizer. Do most of the restairants you have tried accomodate this well? Do they actually split it onto two plates, bring a separate plate, require you to share a plate?

If others are doing this, what has been your experience?
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 10:53 AM   #18
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Re: Dining Out

Man, if you guys are typical of ER folks, as I suppose you are, DW and I are way behind the power curve when it comes to dining out activity.

If we dine out once a month, that would be a lot. Many times, this includes grazing at the local all-you-can-eat *salad bar.

The reason? *I'm not sure to tell the truth. Perhaps we just never think of it. Both DW and I enjoy cooking @ home so eating out rarely comes up. Here's an example, yesterday I fired up the BBQ and cooked 4 quarter chickens, 3# leg of lamb, and 4# garlic beef roast. All of this was about a 4 hour process (6 beer effort, if you keep track that way). This represents a number of meals (5-7) that we will eat this week as we only actually consumed about 1# of the lamb yesterday.

With this kind of stay-at-home activity, we seldom have a need to eat out.

Of course this lack-of-dining-out insures that our meal cost, as well as our low-fat, low-sodium, low-carb diets are easy to control.

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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 11:06 AM   #19
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Re: Dining Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyd
Man, if you guys are typical of ER folks, as I suppose you are, DW and I are way behind the power curve when it comes to dining out activity.

If we dine out once a month, that would be a lot. Many times, this includes grazing at the local all-you-can-eat salad bar.
You are probably in the majority. Many people rarely eat out. Others of us view dining out as a major source of entertainment and calculate the costs into our FIRE budget. It is the same with travel. On the positive side, if you don't like to eat out you can save a lot of money and RE earlier. If you feel the same about eating out and travel, pull the plug now - you can practically live for free
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Re: Dining Out
Old 09-05-2006, 11:06 AM   #20
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Re: Dining Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyd
Man, if you guys are typical of ER folks, as I suppose you are, DW and I are way behind the power curve when it comes to dining out activity.
If we dine out once a month, that would be a lot. Many times, this includes grazing at the local all-you-can-eat *salad bar.
The reason? *I'm not sure to tell the truth. Perhaps we just never think of it. Both DW and I enjoy cooking @ home so eating out rarely comes up.
With this kind of stay-at-home activity, we seldom have a need to eat out.
Of course this lack-of-dining-out insures that our meal cost, as well as our low-fat, low-sodium, low-carb diets are easy to control.
You're not alone, but we drag our butts out of the house every Friday for Costco pizza whether we think we deserve it or not. *After that it's a Thai-food lunch and maybe a Chinese-food dinner with the parents-in-law, and we'll see you next month. *But we also consider the kid's school lunches to be "dining out".

I'm not a foodie but I enjoy the efficiency of cooking large quantities once or twice a month and cramming it all in the freezer. *The challenge is finding a 20-pound turkey in July...
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