I love eating out at restaurants.
Plain and simple.
I’m a personal finance blogger who is trying to reach FIRE in the next three years, and I enjoy going out to lunch every single day.
You may think I am crazy for spending so much money when I could be saving by bringing lunch to work from home. Yes, I’ve thought about that. Homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are much cheaper than a Chipotle burrito. I understand the tradeoff that I am making.
My Peanut Butter Aversion
In all honestly, I would take almost anything over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There was a time when my Mom would make my Dad and me peanut butter sandwiches for lunch everyday for years because it was an economical lunch. By the 6th grade, I could no longer stand peanut butter, and to this day, the smell of peanut butter makes me gag.
Yes, I am still a Chipotle shareholder, even though they got rid of my beloved chorizo option. Even worse, the stock has tanked over the last year. This is a friendly reminder to not buy individual stock unless, you really know what you are doing. It has been an incredibly expensive lesson for me on why passive funds are sometimes the best options.
Anyways, personally, I place value on eating out over a lot of other areas. Some may choose to splurge on movies, golf, or even their daily Starbucks order.
As most of you know, my wife and I save nearly 65% of our take home pay. When you include that we max out my 401(k), we’ve saving over 70% of our income each year. I could cut further to the bone if I really tried. However, I decided that I need to enjoy the financial journey that I’m on and not always scrimp every last dollar.
When I go out to eat, I use that as my recharging time. For those of you who haven’t read the book, Quiet, Susan Cain does a fantastic job of explaining how and why introverts need time to recharge.
As I’ve moved up in positions within the government, I interact and am responsible with more and more people. Sometimes I wish I were an extrovert who loved interacting with people. Unfortunately because I am not, it takes a lot out of me. By lunchtime, I am usually mentally exhausted. I look forward to getting in my car and eating lunch by myself at a delicious restaurant.
Discounted Gift Cards
Since I am trying to reach FIRE in the next couple of years, I try to save money when I go out by utilizing discounted gift cards. As you can see on the website, Gift Card Granny, there are a ton of deals on gift cards that can help lower the price that you pay on food. Both physical and electronic gift cards are usually available. The best part of the electronic ones is how fast you can obtain and use them.
My wife, who is constantly on the lookout for great deals, uses gift cards regularly. She has found discounts up to 35% off face-value at times. She also receives emails from both sites about weekly promos, when certain gift cards are additionally marked down. Since I eat out at the same restaurants, she knows exactly which places to lookout for. It’s an easy way to save a few bucks, and makes me feel a little better about my spending habit. 😉