Is Food Our Biggest Savings Enemy?

Aaron Patzer, the founder of Mint.com, thinks that for 20 and 30 year olds, the major savings problem is the cost of socially going out — dinners at restaurants, drinks with friends and the daily coffee at the local coffee shop. As we get older, the savings problem becomes one of trying to impress others with the things we own.

What do you think? Is it food and wanting to impress the Joneses that is at the root of most people’s lack of saving, or is it something else?

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12 Responses to Is Food Our Biggest Savings Enemy?

  1. baselle says:

    Aren’t they really the same? Couldn’t the problem really be cast as this:

    We save by ourselves; we spend as a group.

  2. He’s absolutely right. Just emerging from my 20’s, I will definitely tell you that we spend a LARGE percentage of our incomes on consumables – food, drink, dvds, movies, parties, events – stuff that has no lasting value or impact on your net worth.

    Why? We’re young, free, and like fancy stuff that costs a lot. We typically have money – whether it be on a credit card or because we have a good starter job with no mortgage and no family… so $10 beverages from Starbucks don’t seem like a big problem.

    There’s a lot of social pressure to spend, and to buy when it’s your turn.

  3. This may be true of some, but not for me, my family or those in my circle.

    When I was younger, my entainment was much the same as todays–spending it at various friends homes, or they come to mine, potluck and games or a movie.

    Our biggest spending factors now seem to be that which we can not control–such as the price we pay for auto insurance (we have shopped around and have the cheapest we could find with good service, but it is still high), electricity and water–we have cut back so much that sometimes we are only paying the minimum rate, which is still high to me–$30 for water and $80 for electric for a house and barn (2 meters).

  4. gertymac says:

    We spend a lot of money on food and going out to bars.

    Our spending on eating and drinking out has a lot to do with a lack of time to cook and a lack of know how in the kitchen. We can cook, just nothing too fancy.

    We go to the bar 2-3 times a week because that is our main social activity with our friends. My drinking habits come into play here as well. I don’t drink beer, only wine or mixed drinks which are always more expensive. :)

    I’m not terribly concerned about it though. The majority of our friends will be leaving our city in the next 2-3 years so we might as well enjoy our time with the group while we can. We have no consumer debt and are still meeting our other financial goals. So, bottom line for us is eat, drink, and be merry!

  5. Yes, it’s a huge money-wasting habit. Just thought about it last night after spending $32 in a restaurant, the same thing at home ten dollars. But we probably would have eaten something cheaper anyway at home.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  6. The Broken Penny says:

    I agree that it takes up a big portion of young peoples budgets. However, when you are young you have less responsibility and you should not skip on going out with friends. As long as you are not going into debt, then having entertainment take up a big portion of your budget is ok. Usually the amount you go out dramatically decreases after you buy your first house, get a dog, kids, ect. Enjoy it while you can, but stay out of debt!

  7. Spud says:

    Aw… couldn’t hear it

  8. Broken Arrow says:

    I’m basically with Baselle. The issue is fundamentally one and the same.

    However, speaking only for myself, I spent on consumables when I was younger because I liked it, although it does tend to happen more when I was with groups.

    To this day, however, it’s still something I struggle with. I don’t really care about impressing anyone though, but I’ll still spend if a friend of mine says, “Hey, want to go to a steak joint?” Sometimes, I’ll say yes.

  9. Clayton says:

    One problem for me was that when I moved into my own apartment with my first good job, I wanted to live like my parents were able to while I was growing up. So I was trying to live like someone who had been working hard and making a good income for 30+ years, and I was making less than half the income and still had all sorts of debt. Keeping up with the jones’s was my perception of where I needed to be and I had a tendency to base that on how I grew up plus my friends that were older and had more time to get things and pay them off. It was like an emotional connection to feeling grown up and responsible, but I was acting foolishly instead. It took some financially enlightening moments before I did some self reflection and realized the road I was on and jumped on the right track at a dead sprint.

  10. Cindy M says:

    It has to start young, I think. My mother and grandmother taught me from early on how to shop for bargains from food to clothing. I got an allowance for helping clean house and I was particular how I spent that allowance, and frugal habits have always stayed with me throughout high school, college, on the job. I very occasionally will go to a restaurant and the few times I’ve splurged, I was sorry I did and truly did not enjoy it, no matter whose company I was in. You can fix yourself and your friends a fabulous steak dinner or anything you set your mind to at home far cheaper and with a bit of planning and smart shopping. That’s my idea of fun, ha-ha. And I could care less what most people think.

  11. Lyle says:

    When I was younger I wanted to spend money more on things. I used to think that concrete objects are more valuable than experiences, because they have value, and you can always sell them.
    But now I have enough things and I realize they just take up space and are a headache to manage. Things own us more than us owning them.

    So I have shifted to spending money more on experiences. That could be a vacation, or a movie, or time at a coffee shop, or on a date. It enriches my life and I don’t usually regret it.

    As to eating out vs. cooking: I enjoy cooking, but it does take more time. I don’t find it’s much cheaper. It costs $7-8 per meal to eat out for dinner, maybe $5 per meal for lunch. It costs $5-6 per meal to cook.

    Alcoholic drinks are something you buy to enjoy your time when you’re out at something else. I usually only buy one.

    When I buy coffee, I don’t see it as buying coffee. I see it as renting an hour’s time enjoying the coffee shop. If I’m going to sit there and read and chat with people, and use their Wi-Fi, can’t I at least buy one $4 coffee? They have to stay in business, and it’s tasty, too.

  12. rebecca says:

    I agree major problem.My son had a great job,could pay his bills with no problem.Got evicted & had his vehicle repossed.The only thing he spent his money on was food & drink.
    I dont think he was trying to impress anyone.With him it was more I work hard I should be able to eat out.Well guess what? If you work hard you can eat out! But not 3 meals a day ,7 days a week DUH!
    My hubby says Im crazy no one spends that much on food.Face facts he says the boy was seeing a stripper!!! I really think it was the food!He moved closer to me & there are few restraunts in this town but he is doing fine & making all his bills with alot less pay.

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