So the other day at work, my friend Dane and I were talking about how easily we’re both convinced to go out to lunch or buy overpriced food from our cafeteria. After a few minutes of complaining how much money we probably spend, we decided to turn a negative into a positive with a competition. By Wednesday morning, we recruited Rachel and Hannah, two of our coworkers.
- We cannot eat out (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) more than 13 times during the month of March. We decided on the number 13 so we could splurge 3x per week, and there are 4 1/2 weeks in March. (31 days / 7 days in a week x 3 = 13.2 –> 13)
- If anyone goes out to eat more than 13 times, they automatically lose.
- The next part of the competition is keeping track of how much we spend. At the end of the month, whoever spends the least amount of money WINS!
- The winner gets to choose the prize they receive from the loser, but it has to benefit the other two people as well. For example, if Rachel wins and Dane loses, Rachel wants Dane to bring in a cake for us. If I win and Hannah loses, I’ll probably ask her to bring us some cookies!
After we all agreed to the competition, I went home and pulled up my bank account online. I reviewed the past 4 months and calculated how much I spent on food (grocery shopping, restaurants, and bars). To be honest, I was disturbed. I knew it seemed like too much, so I looked up the Official USDA Food Plans. This table shows the average cost of food for individuals and families based on a thrifty plan, a low-cost plan, a moderate-cost plan, and a liberal plan. Seeing as my monthly average exceeded the liberal plan, I was even more disturbed.
THIS IS NOT OKAY!!
My weak spot for spending? You guessed it. Chick-fil-A. In November, my worst month, I spent over $90 at the joint. NINETY DOLLARS ON FAST FOOD IN A MONTH.
To put it in a different perspective, a typical visit would cost around $10 for a salad and diet lemonade. Guess how much I spent on the Spicy Chickpea and Lentil Stew on Monday? Less than $10 and I got 4 meals out of it. See what I mean? Grocery shopping = winning.
Starting today, the 1st of March, the four of us are dedicated to eating out less, which will save money, and probably save us a ton of calories! If I get too competitive and start looking a little frail, don’t worry, I’ll plump back up next month.
If you want to join in on our challenge, let me know! Keep track of how much you spend at restaurants & bars (not grocery shopping) and send me your totals at the end of the month.
Another great part of this competition is deciding what to do with the money we’ve saved! Donate to charity? Throw some in savings? Splurge on a plane ticket?
What would YOU buy with the money you’ve saved by not eating out as much?