When Staying In Becomes More Expensive Than Going Out


A neighbor recently announced that she was getting serious about getting out of debt and saving for her family’s future. “Good for you,” I said and meant it, right up until she started detailing her plan for becoming more frugal.

“We need to start staying home more,” she said. “We waste too much money eating out, going to the movies and bars.”

“It’s an easy trap to fall into, but also an easy one to correct,” I said.

“Yes, but part of why we go out so much is because we don’t like being home. We don’t like our house and there’s nothing to do here.”

At this point I offered up some ideas for free/inexpe


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11 Responses to When Staying In Becomes More Expensive Than Going Out

  1. Lisa says:

    Rationalization, delusional, take your pick. She’ll always find a way to spend money and justify it! My only complaint is when people go bankrupt doing those things and we the conservative pay for them.

  2. sillyoleme says:

    Wow. I completely agree with you. Now that me & my BF are more focused than ever on our finances (paying off debt, saving for a wedding), we realize that we have to seriously cut outside entertainment.

    Even as 22-year-olds, we realize that you can’t fix one problem by piling on another. Our budget is tight, but we’ve still managed to save up for a couch (we have NO couch right now), and purchase the odds and ends that we need to make our apartment our HOME along the way. If we can survive by watching free TV or DVD’s while sitting in our DINING ROOM chairs in the living room, then other people can to.

    Just takes a little sacrifice I guess.

  3. Miranda says:

    I agree that your friend is definitely ready to face her financial problems. The key is to look at things realistically. And she is not.

    The other problem is that so many people think that “something else” will make them happy. Your friend thinks that “something else” at home will make everything all better. Unfortunately, you have to learn to be content with what you have, and look for realistic and simple goals (like saving up for a couch) that really will offer an increase in quality of life.

    If you’re always looking for “something else”, you’ll never actually find it. And it will cost you a lot of money along the way.

  4. Miranda says:

    Ooops. In the comment above I meant “definitely NOT ready”…

  5. I agree whole-heartedly with Lisa.

    Ironically, My husband and I are actually in the middle of some home renovation work that’s been put on hold because of various unforeseen expenses (e.g. we didn’t expect to need a new roof). In our case, the renovations did help some with our finances in the short term. Since we’ve closed off the uninsulated den, we’re saving a bunch on cooling and heating — though not enough to pay for that new roof and the other renovations.

    Anyhow, we have become more comfortable staying home, but that was only remotely connected to the renovations. The renovations forced us to live in a smaller space, which made us reconsider the stuff we had bought and sparked a huge wave of decluttering. As the yard sale pile grows, I feel less inclined to add more stuff to the household. When I do buy stuff, I make sure that it is something that I really, really like. As a result, I feel more at home with fewer things overall but more things that I really love.

    So, it’s mostly by getting rid of stuff that my husband and I have become more comfortable at home — not by bringing in new toys.

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  8. Cindy M says:

    The challenge ought to be: How can I make changes/enrich my life and surroundings by spending next to nothing. You can pick up used furniture and household items for next to
    nothing with a little imagination, planning ahead and some physical help to move the stuff (why bother to “save for a couch” as above??). Throw a nice sheet/throw on a used couch, voila. You can watch and listen to plenty of free movies and music (library). You can become a great cook at home, doesn’t have to cost much of anything to feed folks, again, plan ahead for your get-togethers, make lists ahead of time, reserve stuff. I look back and wish I’d done that all along; I think of all the money I’ve blown in my younger years thinking such things had to be brand new. To impress who, I wonder?

  9. Gail says:

    Your friends sound like they are related to my ex-husband.Never do anything for free that he could spend money on instead!

    We stay home a lot. My hubby is self-employed with his workshop connected to the house. He is also a bit of a hermit. If he didn’t leave the house for a month solid it wouldn’t bother him. I’m disabled and in between caring for my health needs rarely feel well enough or have enough time to go out other than for errands that I try to do all at once to save on gas. We are down to filling our tank every 1-1 1/2 months! We have a lot of hobbies, like to read, sew and yard sales in the summer and library sales provide us with lots of cheap DVD and videos and our youngest son keep tracks of newer movies that we would be interested in and buys them for us for presents. We have no cable or antenna, so our TV watching is just our video collection. when we needed a couch, my hubby made one.

    Becoming frugal by spending money one doesn’t have will never work. This lady will be in tears by the end of the project as she is forced out of her home when she can’t meet her bills any longer.

  10. Even without the home remodeling, staying in can be more expensive than going out. I like to cook for friends, so once a month my wife and I try to stage a dinner party for six to eight. The groceries for a five course meal will run about $80 to $100. Crack open three or four bottles of wine, and you’re adding another $100 or more (no point in serving cheap wine you are serving beef tenderloin with bearnaise sauce).

    The irony of course, is that we could go to a steakhouse and the symphony for about half the total cost described above.

  11. Mark Jansen says:

    It’s the new notion that Leisure=Entertainment=Being entertained. Play some board games with your friends and/or kids, read some books (REAL books, not a new Kindle) and just talk and enjoy each others company. Soon it becomes apparent that having fun does not always mean spending $$$ (and vice-versa). Previous generations were not dying of boredom because the DVR & flat-screen hadn’t been invented. They weren’t piled in debt either.
    The same thing has happened to sport and fitness, and to many hobbies too. Limit your leisure budget and get creative! You may find that there myriad of things that cost little or no $$ are proportionately MORE fun, especially when you don’t have the stress of what it costs. Leisure and fun does not equal spending and I bet I could list a cheaper and better alternative to any rat-hole “entertainment”. Boring, shallow, and superficial people need to be entertained- make yourself more interesting and you won’t have to look outside yourself for what you are lacking inside.

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