My Story: Dining Out On a Tight Budget
by Nancy R.
We're in the "recovery" phase of paying off our credit card debt. We've done all the "right" things: looked our bills right in the face (and winced), stopped credit card spending cold turkey, and prepared a budget. We're paying down our debt starting with the highest interest rate and we have a plan.
One of the ways we racked up high credit card bills involved eating out. Eating out is a pleasure for us--our favorite recreation, in fact. The key to our budget and to our success has been not denying ourselves the pleasure, but cutting down. Instead of eating out 3-4 nights a week, we've made Thursday our night out so that we avoid the weekend crush and get better service.
We take turns deciding on where to eat and we pay cash for it instead of credit card. Yes, we spend money eating out--but the key is that we don't feel deprived. We feel like we get our treat and reward, we enjoy it, and we're willing to scrimp in other areas to pay for it. Clothes are not a big issue to us--we buy at thrift stores or cheerfully accept "leftovers." We've put off purchasing a new car for at least a year, until we've made some progress on the debt reduction.
There's been an unexpected benefit. My husband and I both realized that our one night a week of dining out is even more of a pleasure than our 3-4 nights out used to be because we eagerly anticipate it. It's helped us stay on track with our finances because we don't feel deprived--sort of like finding a diet where you can still eat chocolate!
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor
Take the Next Step
- Discuss this Topic in The Dollar Stretcher Community
- Do you struggle to get ahead financially? Then you'll want to subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!
More Money-Saving Tips for Families
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- Sizzling savings: The 10 best deals in July
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- How are relationships faeected by money?
- What's best for baby? Store vs. name brands
- Happy homemaking the homemade way
- This week's Readers' Tips