No Restaurant November Update and October Confession

Photo Credit: Yours Truly

It was really fun reading the reactions from people related to this challenge. (responses on other blogs listed below) Until I started reading them I never really considered what I was proposing to be extreme, but apparently it is the equivalent of dangling your child over a balcony.

Some adamantly opposed the idea right away, while others admitted it was something they would like to do, but just couldn’t. The rest said let’s do it! That’s what I’m talking about baby!

I left a comment on Budgets Are Sexy suggesting that to those who said it was impossible, it’s not that it’s impossible, it’s just that they weren’t willing to do what it would take to make it possible. If you think about it that is a common theme for people in personal finance. You will do what you are willing to do when you’re willing to do it. Just because you don’t want to doesn’t make it impossible though.

Here are the articles that shared my No Restaurants in November Challenge with their readers. Be sure to read the comments to see how weird I am. I like being financially weird. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Budgets Are Sexy – My homeboy — the one and only — J Money! (Check J$ out on Currency, and look at this awesomeness at Love Drop!)
Living up to a name – This blogger is doing a challenge of his own, (a spending fast) but recaps my post, among J Money’s, and shares a few of her own ideas as well.
Lauren & Elissa – This blog is a new find for me. Two financial planners that decided to put what they like to call “extreme financial planning” to the test. I’ve been called extreme many times so this is right up my alley. (Check Lauren out on Currency!)

Week One Update!

November 1st — November 7th

Okay so week one was a complete success! No eating out. No convenient stores. No Starbucks. No eating at work. DONE!

How much did we spend buying groceries from the grocery store? $134.14 I am VERY okay with that number — since when we aren’t shoveling down expensive restaurant food — we try to keep the food budget right around $125 per week. If you’re feeding a family of four, some frugal shoppers say you should strive for $100 per person. We raised that to $125 per family member because on average, we were always short about $25 on grocery money each week.

Then we would go out and bust our budget by eating out…I know! It makes absolutely no sense at all!

I HATE busting the budget, and it bothered me each time we did it. Maybe now you can understand why I would take what some consider extreme measures to stop this nonsense in its tracks. If you still don’t understand, wait until you see my “October Confession” below.

Please know that I do not wish to intentionally embarrass myself by giving you these real figures. Sure, I may be a little embarrassed, but what’s more important to me is that my shame compels you to keep your situation under control. In other words, don’t do what I did, and if you do, try my challenge. It’s free, and you may learn something about yourself.

If you’re reading this and you can relate, perhaps making the same drastic decision would be a good thing. If you didn’t do as bad as we did, but you feel you could do better, taking my challenge is still a great idea, even if only for a month. For the rest of you, I hope that you could at least give one week a try, just to see how much you can save in the process. What you think is impossible now, could become possible if you had some motivation. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now for the juicy stuff!

My October Confession

Now you’ll see the crux of my inspiration for doing this November challenge. October really made us see why something needed to happen and NOW!

Are you sitting down? Haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰

We spent a whopping $1,052.11 last month on everything food. HOLY COW!

Now before you shat yourself (please excuse my explosive terminology, but I’m trying to make a point.) like I did when adding this stuff up, keep in mind that some of this total includes diapers, wipes, dog food, detergent, toiletries, cleaners, and cosmetic type stuff.

It also includes groceries that we still have in our pantry and freezer because we like to buy in bulk when it makes sense to, and meat is expensive. Oh and we picked some fresh apples at a local orchard for $11.29. Over the edge I know!

Let’s break down what was spent and where shall we?

I’ve got this listed in 4 categories.

  • Groceries – $554.89
  • Restaurants – $458.25
  • Convenience Stores – 29.95
  • Wife’s Work – $9.02

We ate out a total of 18 times in October with an average ticket of $25.46.

As you can see convenience stores (which includes coffee), and my wife eating at work is not the problem at all. To give credit where credit is due, my wife chooses to use her monthly “My Fund” of $50 to buy her coffee….mostly. For the record, my wonderful wife has decided not to use that “My Fund” money to buy coffee. This month, it’s considered off limits.

Our problem has more to do with the first two numbers. You’d think that by eating out so much we would have spent way less at the grocery store. In October we blew our grocery budget AND eating out budget to smithereens.

November we will see exactly what we are capable of doing when we put our mind to it! Back to basics! Sometimes your habits just need to be rebooted or reprogrammed to allow yourself to reach your financial goals more easily. That’s what this is about for us.

Let’s see where we are for the first week compared to last month.

Last month, the first week, we spent a total of $249.74 combined on all of our food related purchases. Compare that to our first week in November ($134.14), and you will see why we’re smiling so big right now.We’re on track.

See. ๐Ÿ˜€

We already saved $115.60! That’s almost one whole week of grocery money. That could almost moderately feed a family of four for one week going by our normal grocery budget standards.

If I was to times that number by four, we would end up saving $462.40 at the end of the month. I know we will do better. Our goal is to save $552.11 and place that savings in our emergency fund with any extra we’re already adding to it.

Will we do it? Be sure and come back to find out!

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my free updates so you don’t miss a thing! RSS Feed or Email

So to all of you brave and “extreme” challengers who signed up for the No Restaurants in November Challenge; how was your first week? Were you successful? Did you fail? What challenges did you face and how did you (or didn’t you) overcome those challenges?

Editor’s Note: If you’re business meals and eating out costs due to traveling with your company, it does not count against you in this challenge. If you are not paying for those meals, or are reimbursed, you can still take my challenge and succeed!

See you next week and good luck to you all! YOU CAN DO IT, DON’T GIVE UP!

About Brad Chaffee

20 Responses to “No Restaurant November Update and October Confession”

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  1. Julie says:

    So I ate out about 3 times last week. Boooo, I am not giving up though. This is the hardest thing for me. I also spent about $200 on groceries, thinking I will cook more. Maybe this week….

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Don\’t give up Julie!! It\’s definitely hard, I agree. We\’ve caught ourselves a few times this month trying to figure out where we were going to go for dinner…out of habit. Then we realized that we couldn\’t! Haha! It\’s quite funny!

      I am doing great so far and have had some great home cooked meals! It really is better than eating out as far as quality and taste. BUT convenience is our problem, and that\’s the real battle for us. ๐Ÿ˜€ Good luck!

  2. Jenn says:

    I find it interesting to hear what others consider “normal” restaurant consumption. It’s just not something we do – it’s not a priority for us. A normal month for our family of four comes to $6.08. That represents four $1.52 coffees for me while I do the groceries on Saturday morning. Other than that my husband and the kids all take their lunches, we eat all meals at home, and I work from home so I just head for the kitchen.

    We live ~15 out from the suburbs so by the time my DH makes his way home from downtown the last thing we want to do is turn around and head back to town for supper. Going out is actually less convenient than eating at home for us. I guess that’s the financial upside of living 15+minutes from the nearest restaurant or store. Spending for us is a conscious activity requiring a 30minute roundtrip drive, so it doesn’t happen by accident.

    When we have lots of errands on a Saturday, or a long car drive we pack a lunch with us to we aren’t forced to stop at a restaurant.

    We have 3 family BDs in January and frankly we’re all tired of hosting parties after the holidays, so we typically meet at a restaurant. It’s unfortunate that virtually all our restaurant meals for the year fall in one month, but that’s the way it goes.

    I find that I rarely enjoy a restaurant meal anyway. I always anticipate something great, but it’s usually only good. I actually prefer home cooking. I also hate seeing that money used for something so quickly consumed and forgotten. I always see it in terms of what travel experience I could have had for that money. A $20 fast food meal = entrance fee to the Colosseum in Rome. $100 fancy dinner = gondola ride in Venice. Same holds true for most other consumer items. If eating out is one of your great pleasures in life, then budget for it and enjoy it. For me, travel and early retirement are the two priorities and I happily skip just about everything else.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Awesome Jenn, I love the way you think! I especially like how you connect what you would of spent eating out to where you could of gone or done instead. LOVE IT!

      I didn\’t imagine being such an oddball with doing no restaurants for one month. We\’ve done this plenty of times before while we were getting out of debt and didn\’t think twice about it. I agree that home cooking is usually always better especially if there\’s a good cook. I love cooking so I handle that role for the most part, but have recently got into the habit of just saying let\’s go out to eat. Haha! That\’s why I needed to make a change! I hate wasting money and eating out is usually a big fat waste of money!

      Thanks for the AWESOME comment!

  3. J. Money says:

    SO FAR SO SEXY!!! Keep it up Chaffee family – you can do it!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Den says:

    Thank you for sharing your total – painful, but necessary to stay motivated!

    We spent $175 in October on eating out – and nothing great – just lots of little fast food lunches, coffees, snacks. Nothing memorable, which is sad…

    We did great with the challenge the first week. Hubby got coffee one morning only because he was traveling with a co-worker and he stopped for coffee….a bit of peer pressure.

    I’ve been making healthier meals and enjoying it. So far it’s been a good reminder how easily money can slip through our fingers…and I bet the next time we go out to eat (not until December of course) we will really appreciate it!

    Hang in there!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      It\’s funny, or not so funny, how easily money slips through our hands on eating out. It disappears so quickly! There are some GREAT places to eat here in Charlottesville, and luckily for me, I run a review website, but eventually I will not be paying for those meals, it will be a business expense. Still though, I always love what I make at home much more! The photo above is what I cooked last night. It was delicious and I am pretty sure I wouldn\’t have enjoyed anything else eating any better! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for checking in and sharing your story! ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. leslie says:

    Holycrap! I eat out only every now and then so I don’t see this challenge as too extreme. But I am always surprised at how often, on average, people do eat out and the prices they pay for it! My monthly budget for “eating out” (which means any food that is bought prepared) is $75 (one person). Spending even $200 on food is crrrrrrrrrazy to me! To each their own ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree, really the habit of eating out too much should be considered extreme as opposed to the norm. I\’m glad I decided to do this challenge to keep this sort of thing in check! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for commenting!

  6. Nicole says:

    I am trying to not eat out, but forgot a couple of times – relatively small fast food trips at work. Not a huge deal, but this is making me see how expensive food out is! I also accidentally made a dinner date with a friend for tomorrow night, so am going through with it but will try to be more diligent after that!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      No worries you can still have a great rest of the month! Don\’t give up! ๐Ÿ™‚ Stick to it and try to remind yourself of what you want to accomplish by not eating out. We want to save lots of money!

  7. Serenity says:

    Thanks for the mention! I have some confessions for you as well, Brad:

    – This time last month (first week of October), I’d spent over $69 on food – $23 on eating out alone!

    – But I’ve spent $55 on groceries so far this month. Including $37 in groceries just yesterday JUST to avoid going out to eat (see my latest post)

    – I’m actually a “she” ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Haha, wish me luck the rest of the month!

  8. jen says:

    Thanks for being willing to share your October numbers with us and challenging us on ours. Our monthly budget for eating out (family of 3) is $40.00 total. We will either go out once a month to a fairly nice restaurant or we can go out twice for fast food. Making a menu at home has really helped me cut it down. This challenge would not be so difficult for me, but you could choose other areas on my budget that would be a completely different story.

  9. Annette says:

    Just starting this after convincing my boyfriend to try it. He’s the stay-at-home and sometimes hates cooking, or runs out of time. So we have our menu plan, all the groceries … and spent $200 at the grocery store. We’re hoping the food lasts two weeks, but with a teenager in the house, I’m never sure. I might have to lock the fridge ๐Ÿ˜€

    Thanks for this update.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      That\’s great Annette! Welcome to the challenge!! I can relate with your husband in that I don\’t always like to cook. I guess more about the convenience of not cooking though because I cook pretty good stuff, but it\’s always so time consuming. Because of that it\’s easier to just say let\’s order out. Haha! i needed this challenge as much as anyone! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Matt Jabs says:

    Shortly after starting our debt free adventure Betsy and I realized that we were spending a similar amount each month on dining out. It made us sick, so we quit. Extreme? I hope so, it should be. For the last 1.5 years since the discovery we have budgeted $30/month for dining out. It was tough at first, but now it’s tough for us to spend the $30! We’d rather eat at home… for many different reasons.

    Good work Brad. Keep it up.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hey Matt, thanks for the comment sir!! I found it in the spam folder for some reason so I apologize for the delay. ๐Ÿ™‚

      When I think about the probability that I would still have about $10,000 in our emergency fund, even after spending $7,000 to pay off our second mortgage, I get sick to my stomach! Spending $500 a month on eating out for 12 months puts us at around $6,000 wasted. Aaaahhhhh! LOL Drives me crazy man! I think you and your family are a great example my friend! I love the stuff you share with your readers that reflect your journey and the things you have changed a long the way. I especially like the fact that you gave up your cell phone. Admirable man! Keep it up yourself! I love \”extreme\” financial planning man!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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