I have a confession: I like eating out. When it comes to budget failures, eating out tops my list. It doesn’t matter if it’s fast food or a sit-down place, I like it all.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a particularly busy week. It was full of school events, family events, and just regular work obligations. It seemed like nearly every extra thing in our schedule occurred 30 miles from home right during the dinner hour, meaning our family of five ended up eating out. A lot. By the time the week was done, we had eaten out almost every single night.
I felt awful. I felt awful because of all the lousy food choices we made. I felt awful because of all the perishables at home that sat and rotted. I felt awful because we spent way too much money.
Routines of making food in advance for breakfasts and dinners fell by the wayside with the busy schedule. I didn’t bother clipping coupons, because I didn’t have any time to shop. By the end of the week, we had an empty fridge, an empty wallet, and we were out of energy.
It was a crazy week, and if I had to do it differently, I would have tried to prepare for it better. I would have budgeted for the eating out (rather than dipping into savings). I would have altered our schedules a bit so we had a healthy snack and a late dinner instead of eating out quite as much. I would have tried to make sure our fridge wasn’t full of stuff that could go bad during a week we wouldn’t be home much.
I had gotten back on track with a restocked pantry, renewed energy, and a menu plan, and I was feeling so much better, when I almost got tripped up again.
I’d spent the afternoon planting in my garden. I was hot, tired, and dirty, and it was time to make dinner. Now I knew I had a perfectly good package of chicken breast sitting in my fridge, but I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. COOK. I wanted to go out. I wanted to sit in a restaurant and have someone else take care of the cooking and cleaning.
But this time, I stopped myself. I stopped by asking myself this:
“Are you trying to eat out because you need to eat out?
Or are you trying to eat out because you’re being lazy?“
Yes, I was being lazy. Would it really kill me to spend 30 minutes throwing together a quick meal? No.
So we ate our healthy, home-cooked meal, and my lovely husband did the dishes. And we saved a bit of money.
It occurred to me that many of the mistakes I’ve made with money are made when I am being lazy about a task. I spend more when I don’t want to take the time to comparison shop. I spend more when I don’t take the time to do research on a product. I spend more when I don’t take the time to clip coupons or send in mail-in rebates. I spend more when I don’t have a meal plan. I spend more on my health care when I am too lazy to exercise. Making decisions because they are easy isn’t always good for your health or wealth.
I have more time than I think I do. So when I ask myself if my inability to get something done is because I am truly busy or if if it’s because I’m being lazy, I know how to respond if the answer is the latter.
Just do it. Do the task. Save the money. And then, try to avoid being in a position where you think being lazy could be an option.
When it comes to making decisions, it’s time to take responsibility for the job.