We were doing so well. We set a monthly budget of $200 for dining out for dinners, $100 for dining out for lunches and $200 for groceries (just food, not personal care). Also, we decided to only allow ourselves to dine out in the evenings on Friday through Sunday, and on special occasions. Well, last month I believe a number of factors came together to cause us to overspend the $200 budget by another $300!
We spent $506 on dining out in the evenings last month! We also overspent our $100 for lunch dining by another $40, but I can explain that by going to Fogo de Chao for lunch with old coworkers, which was about $44 after tax and tip (and no drinks).
The Blame Game
We’re taking full responsibility for our overexpenditures, but I do want to call to mind the factors that caused us to overspend:
- Ignoring the budget: In past months, I kept an eye on how much we were spending in various categories (dining, groceries, gas) by running a Quicken report each week or two. But in March, not only did I not run reports, I also didn’t both entering the receipts into Quicken until a week or two later. Basically, we didn’t bother looking to see how well we were doing against budget in order to correct ourselves as needed.
- Eating out with friends: One particular meal cost us $82, and we could easily have avoided it. One of our older friends is a single woman with a lot of money and expensive tastes (but she’s not at all obnoxious about it). The first time we went out with her, we ended up spending about $70. This time, she picked another expensive place, but instead of suggesting someplace else, or sharing an entree, Stacie and I both got our own dishes, plus salads and soups and dessert and two glasses of wine. Plus, thinking back, I couldn’t place where a certain $15 on the check was from, but I didn’t question it. I’ve never been so lax at a restaurant before, and I’ll blame my horrendous back pain that night.
- Not using coupons: We get the Entertainment Book, and we actually have two of them right now, but we didn’t use a single coupon when dining out last month! Not from the book, or local clipper magazines or newspaper inserts. None.
- Lent: Stacie chose to give up meat for all of Lent, but I wasn’t willing to give up tasty meat dishes and share a plate with her. We could have saved loads of money since we went to no less than a 8 Indian or Ethiopian restaurants where one entree easily feeds two people. We each got our own meal, usually costing $10-15 each. We also added on teas and coffees which we usually skip for just water, but that has nothing to do with Lent, just our need for caffeine or warm beverages.
- Stress and Excuses: With so much happening this spring, such as a new job for me and Stacie, huge amount of work load for my graduates program, and meeting up with a different friend every weekend for dinner, we celebrated every little win as an excuse to spend more for food. New job? Big meal. Turned in a homework? Tack on a few glasses of wine. Dying of back pain? Buy dessert!
Unfortunately we’re only 5 days into this month and we’ve already spent almost $100 on dining out, thanks again to more excuses, not using coupons and not sharing meals. At least we’ve gotten the shock from last month to teach us, but with a trip to see friends in PA as well as a trip to Chicago coming up in April, it’ll be hard to only spend another $100 dining out. I guess we have to eat at home except when we absolutely can’t, and then use our frugal dining methods to get us by the other times.
How about all of you? Do you have a dining out budget? Do you stick to it, or do you often go way over it each month?
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