Most people realize that it’s easy to get into debt by overextending themselves when purchasing a home or car that is beyond their means, though some do it anyway. However, few people realize that they can actually eat their way into significant debt.
4 Ways You May Be Eating Your Way Into debt
Did you know? One of the leading causes of personal debt is due to dining out regularly. Many justify the “need” to dine out frequently with various excuses such as:
- I don’t have time to cook.
- I’m late getting home, and my family won’t (or) can’t cook.
- It’s easier for us to eat out.
- It’s cheaper to eat out than to buy groceries (Seriously, people have written in believing this!)
- I don’t know how to cook.
1 Do you dine out one or more times per week?
The average dining out checks for a family of 4 starts at $60. If you do that just 1x per week, you’ve spent $3,120 dining out in one year, which is less than we allot for our family’s entire yearly grocery budget.
Alternatives for dining out
Make your own copycat restaurant dishes and enjoy the flavors of your favorite foods at a significant reduction of the original price. For example, we adore beef wellington, and we’ve discovered a way to make it for $3.63 per person, rather than the $48 per person our local steakhouse charges.
Utilize the Slow Cooker
Meals can be prepared with very little effort. Simply measure a few ingredients into your favorite slow cooker before you head out the door to work (school, gym, where ever it is you go), and when you come home, a delicious meal will be waiting for you.
Double the Recipe Twice Per Week
Whatever it is you’re making, whether it’s a casserole, hot dish, etc.- make it a point to double the recipe at least twice per week. While you’re enjoying dinner the first time around, the other dish is wrapped and put away into the freezer for another night. If you do this just twice per week, you will literally cut out an entire week’s worth of cooking each month. How’s that for having a night off?
Invest in a Digital Pressure Cooker
For the sole expense of a single meal out with the family; you can pick up a digital pressure cooker and prepare meals in under 30 minutes (from freezer to the table, no thawing!)
Grocery Budget Busters
Lunchtime is one of the biggest budget busters; often, people (think) don’t have time to make a lunch in the morning and end up snacking out of the vending machine at work (or school). If you work with several colleagues interested in eating healthier, consider starting a salad club at work. Here is a collection of hot and cold bag lunch ideas for the entire family to reduce your lunchtime expense.
2 Do you purchase prepackaged seasoning mixes?
We recently shared a homemade copycat Taco Bell seasoning mix on our site and received several inquiries as to “why would anyone make it when you can just buy it at the store?” A package of name brand seasoning mix is $1. It costs approximately 12¢ to make the seasoning mix from scratch at home in about 3 minutes flat.
- Let’s look at the Math: 1 Package of (store-bought) taco seasoning mix, used just twice per month x 12 months = 24 Packages of Mix at $1 per package = $24 spent on just Taco Seasoning.
Homemade Taco Seasoning costs approximately 12¢ per package (equivalent) x 24 servings = $2.88. $24 minus $2.88 = $21.12 savings on the grocery bill in 1 year JUST by making your own taco seasoning.
We used to purchase a single box of Bisquick™ each week to make biscuits, pancakes, and other dishes. By making our own, we literally save over $116 per year, just for that one common grocery item.
Imagine the difference in your grocery bill if you swapped out five similar prepackaged foods per month for homemade foods. With over 2,000 homemade mix recipes in various categories here, it should be simple to swap out 5 of the most frequently purchased items on your list for significant savings each year.
3 Do you purchase portioned snacks?
Items such as 100 calorie snack packs, pre-sliced apples, mini bags of chips? These items are a significant drain on the grocery budget and can be easily packaged at home for a fraction of the cost.
- Make Your Own 100 Calorie Snack Packs
- If items such as chips and pretzels are routinely part of your usual grocery budget, consider purchasing large bags and repackaging them into single-serving size baggies.
Doing so will help keep the kids from eating an entire bag in one sitting and save money on those tiny bags of air containing less than a handful of chips.
4 Do you insist on purchasing Name Brand items?
Most people don’t know that most store brand and brand name products are packaged in the same facility. The only difference is often a different colored label being slapped on the can.
- When purchasing eggs, fruit, or frozen veggies, always choose generic as they’re generally up to 70% less cost for the same product. An apple is an apple, regardless of the label it carries.
- Bumblebee packages Kirkland Signature (Costco Brand) Tuna
- Pureology makes Kirkland Signature Shampoo
As you can see, by altering a few spending habits, the savings per year can be immense. Sometimes people comment that they don’t have “time” to make a few of these homemade mixes to save money. Here’s an alternative way of looking at it.
Time is Money (or is it?)
How much money do you make per hour? If you make $8 per hour and you’re purchasing $24 worth of taco seasoning packets per year, you are working 3 hours a year to buy prepackaged taco seasoning. Is it worth it NOW? For less than 10 minutes of your time, you could have made a year’s worth of taco seasoning.