This morning I came across a very interesting article that talked about “Ten Things Americans Waste the Most Money On”, and let me tell you, the amount spent on various products and services is astounding. What surprised me the most, is that among low income households, one of the biggest areas of “wasting money” is eating out at restaurants and fast food places.
Maybe this doesn’t surprise you, but the article reported that the average American family spends around $2,619 per year! What was even more interesting, was that households who make less than $5,000 per year (generally college students), spend a larger percentage of their income in this category, forking over about 6.2% of their total budget!
Reading these numbers really caused me to think, there must be a large disconnect with what people know about their spending habits. Many Americans are suffering from debt, financial hardships, and unbelievably tough circumstances, yet this is where a good chunk of their money goes every year?
Let me tell you, I am the last person to point the finger in this area, because I am pretty guilty of eating out myself. But…I still think it is important to talk about this and to not just give up on our bad habits. The sooner someone sees where they need to change, the sooner they can correct it, and move forward to a better financial future.
Now that we know about the big elephant in the room, let’s get down to some helpful ways in which we can combat this bad habit. Below, I have given you 5 Things You Can Make at Home that will get you closer and closer to saving that $2,000 per year, rather than spending it.
1. Your Daily Cup of Coffee
In future posts, I will definitely expand on this one, because I know that Americans are very guilty of the daily Starbucks or Pete’s run. I wish I could say I am immune to this, but sadly, I give in to the Starbucks run at least once a week. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good cup of coffee with a few friends, but when you are simply on your way to work in the morning and you feel the need to have that cup in hand to be productive throughout your day, there might be a slight problem there. This is something you can easily make at home, and I am a big believer in investing in a good espresso or latte machine. Trust me, it will pay for itself within a couple months!
2. A Romantic Date Night Meal
Ok let’s face it, instead of being creative and romantic on our own, many of us would rather just shuttle off to a restaurant that has nice ambiance and does all the work for us! This is no way to save money, and we need to start thinking outside of the box in order to create those special moments at home. If you want a great date night together, make something unique and special that you know your partner loves. Enjoy that meal together, either at home, or take it out for a picnic. Something truly special about date nights is that it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you are enjoying each other’s company, and you don’t need an expensive restaurant to do that!
3. Breakfast, Lunch, or Snacks on the Go
One of my biggest struggles in life is not just the temptation of going out to dinner, but rather, the temptation of giving in to my hunger when I am on the go. You know the feeling don’t you? You’ve been working hard all day…and at around 2 PM…that stomach starts to growl. In the back of your mind your thinking, It wouldn’t hurt to just pick up a little something. And before you know it, the day is over, and you are 10 times more starving then you were in the first place. One tip that is so simple but has really saved us in the long run is just bringing snacks and lunches with you. Carve out an extra 10 minutes every morning to really pack yourself a good lunch, and you will be happy you did it in the end. Don’t just include carb-loaded snacks in their either, work towards giving yourself lean proteins, because that will greatly help with the hunger later on in the day!
4. Your Favorite Fast Food Item
I think where a lot of Americans get into trouble is when they start to really crave something. They know the smell of their favorite place, their favorite thing, and they can picture it over and over again in their mind…you’re picturing your favorite thing now aren’t you? Whether it be french fries, hamburgers, doughnuts, chicken strips, bbq sandwhiches, or really anything…it is always better to make it at home. This may take a few tries to find the right recipe, and of course, don’t make it every night! But the point is, if you give yourself that little treat once in awhile at home, you won’t crave it as much when you are out and about.
Dessert is not the best for you, I know that, but it is impossible for most people to go through their lives without enjoying it every once in awhile. It is amazing to see how many people love going out to get frozen yogurt, or go to little dessert and coffee shops. This is something you can easily make at home, and the best part about having these things at home, is that you can really control your portions. Make dessert for the whole family, and only give yourself a small piece. You can still have that same taste, but with much less calories in the end.
Today, I mainly talked about conquering the bad habit of eating out, but there are also many things we can make at home outside of food, like crafts, home décor, entertainment, and really all kinds of things. If you have an idea of something you make at home that saves you big in your budget every week, leave a comment and share it with our subscribers! There is always something new to learn about saving and spending wisely, and we love to hear your ideas and tips!
By: Erika Pizzo