No Restaurants in November Challenge

Photo Credit: Calvary Reviews

It’s time for another Enemy of Debt Challenge!

Is your budget brutally pounded by your inability to stay away from restaurants? Ours is! Of all the things my wife and I have changed about our financial habits, dining out seems to be our current addiction of addictions. We did fine while we were jazzed and intense about getting out of debt, but ever since then, we have been haunted by this ghost of convenience.

Let me just say, right here right now, we are SICK AND TIRED of watching our money disappear into our belly. To make matters worse we are completely aware of how this is slowing down our financial progress. With our recent payoff of our second mortgage to the tune of about $7,000, which came from our emergency fund, this bad habit has our full attention.

We had a goal of saving $15,000 for our fully-funded emergency fund by the end of 2010. Needless to say, that goal has been changed and we need to get more serious about achieving it as fast as possible. I can’t help but think about all the money we have wasted on restaurants since we became debt free. The thought is too nauseating to bare.

I would even go as far to say, had we tightened our budgeting belts in the food department, we’d probably still be on track to reach our $15,000 savings goal by 2011. (Even with our recent payoff!) That’s why I am so fired up right now!

One small problem for me is that I manage another local blog where I do reviews called Inside Charlottesville. I review restaurants, entertainment, and pretty much anything awesome that can be done in Charlottesville VA. Thankfully, I can ask my trusted partner to handle any food reviews for the month of November. Furthermore, there are some places that I have eaten out at already that I can review to fill any gaps. Problem solved!

It’s time for action and I want to challenge you too! Are you up for another Enemy of Debt challenge?

The No Restaurants in November Challenge

This challenge doesn’t have to be about giving up dining out from here on out. It’s simply a way to evaluate how much you are currently spending in the “dining out” department, and how much you can save by eliminating this expensive expense for an entire month.

I can tell you that this is going to be tough for us, but we have done it before. When we were getting out of debt we had MANY months of no eating out, but things have dramatically shifted as we have veered off course. It’s time to regain control of our poor food habits in order to reach our goal as fast as we can!

The Rules of the Road

  • Eating out consists of buying any food from any place that could have been made at home.
  • In other words, everything you eat or drink will have to come from the grocery store — no exceptions!
  • No snack machines, or convenient store foods or snacks. (For us this would include Starbucks Coffee, because we can make coffee at home much cheaper.) This will be hard for my wife since she is the only coffee drinker in our house, but she is ready to make this sacrifice in order to win financially. (She is my hero!)
  • Specifically track your grocery spending on paper. (Record EVERY dollar spent on food.)
  • Save as much as you can! Track and record your savings each and every week! (also on paper)
  • Editor’s Note: If your business meals and eating out costs are 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!

How much can you save for the month of November? FIND OUT!

Are there any prizes?

Yep, the money you save from taking my challenge will be your greatest prize πŸ˜€

Before you say NO to participating in this challenge ask yourself these questions:

I would love it if you joined me for this challenge! Please consider how taking this challenge could benefit you and your financial plan.

Are you willing to sacrifice one thing to improve your situation? If you want to join my No Restaurants in November Challenge, please leave a comment below indicating your desire to participate. I will be giving you a detailed update each and every week of our results!

Let’s do this together!

About Brad Chaffee

48 Responses to “No Restaurants in November Challenge”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Cindy says:

    I want to join your challenge. I love reding the things you have done and I have gotten out of debt except for my car. You are correct while I was getting out of debt it was easy to say no(we are talking $10,000 once and around $15,000 the next time). But, once I became a cash only person and a credit card (to hold the hotel room or an item only) I guess I got too excited and now I do sometimes spend ridiculously with no worries because I have no bills – and yes, I do sometimes double up on the car note. But, I am trying to reign it in so I can get my emergency fund back up (it was a lfesaver with the car repairs recently – they said $1,822 – I say not a problem and gave them my debit card – they just looked – it was GREAT!!!). So, with that dropped by that much – I need to get back on track and get my emergency fund back up. So, COUNT ME IN!!!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Sounds like the tide has pulled us both away from where we want to be! Thanks for participating and I look forward to doing this together! Good luck! πŸ˜€

      • Cindy says:

        Long Story Short – Am I kicked off the Team

        I forgot this is my birthday month and I save up all year for it. So, this weekend I went off track. 1st I went to my favorite Mom and Pop eatery and got a meal. I knew the meal would last me through 4 meals because they give a lot of food for $6.59. So, let’s just say I had it for 3 days. Then, sorry Brad I always give gifts to 3 people who have made a difference in my life through the year. This year those 3 people were 3 underpriviledged children I have had the honor of knowing and learning to love more and more. So, on Saturday, I picked them up from their parents and told them they could each chose what we did. We went to Five Below a store where everything cost $1 – $5 – each child was given $5. Then we went to Chick-fil-A – yes, I ate out. Then off to the bookstore, where each of them was given $20 to buy books. Then to Wal-Mart so they could get some chocolate. After that I took them to the mall and Target, so they could do their Christmas Wish List and go to the eatery for food – no, I did not eat at the eatery. After what they told me was a great day, I took them home with their bags and smiles on their faces. Brad, if you kick me out it’s okay because,to see those 3 smiling children each time they paid for something or order what they really wanted to eat I felt it was worth it. My friends made me a Birthday dinner for tomorrow and gave me $5.00 to get a dessert. Also, I would like to point out hopefully it will get me a 2nd chance. On tomorrow, my birthday I will do what I always do, Have a Birhtday Breakfast with my Financial Advisor to go over what I have done right and wrong during the year. Also, hopefully Big Points on this – I am taking the rest of my birthday money and buying 3 children 1 thing off their Wish List – already talked to the Mommy who said, thank you. Sorry Brad, I promise after tomorrow I will be good. But, see what being DEBT FREE can Do – I am still Happy I made a Day GREAT for 3 children who felt like Royalty all DAY. I could not have done it if I had not planned all year for it.

        Am I kicked off?

        • Brad Chaffee says:


          First of all, it\’s your birthday!! Everyone deserves to eat somewhere nice for their birthday. It\’s not your fault I decided to hold this challenge in November. Haha!

          On another note, I have to say I am blown away by your story! All I can say is YOU ARE SO AWESOME for doing that! What an idea too! To give three gifts to people who have made a difference in your life for the year. You can\’t get more selfless than that, and on your birthday at that! Only praises coming from me and an enormous amount of love and respect! What you did is what life is all about — making an impact on the lives of those around you. Those kids will NEVER forget what you did, and down the road when they look back they will consider that moment as one that changed them.

          So no way I am kicking you out of this challenge. I think anyone that can read will feel the same, but it\’s my blog so I make the rules. Haha! BUT…

          Now it\’s back to business. Rock the rest of the month and complete my challenge! πŸ˜€

  2. Dena says:

    Brad, I AM IN!

    I am sick & tired of using laziness as an excuse to hinder my debt pay-off. Eating out is so tempting for a ton of reasons. First, it’s so much easier than cooking. Second, the food is so delicious (pizza, sushi, MmMmmm..). And there are a bunch of others but let me stop there for now.

    No restaurants in November. I am in. Best of luck to you throughout the challenge. I look forward to celebrating our victories at the end of the month.

    Thanks for the push, I needed this!


    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hoooray Dena!!!! Awesome to be doing this with you! πŸ˜€

      The thing for us is that I am a very good cook. I have been known to make some delicious food, so it\’s hard for us to think about all of the money we\’ve wasted on mediocre food in the last year. No more! LOL

  3. raineydai says:

    I will do my best! πŸ™‚

  4. Kaye says:

    Great minds think alike…I told my husband last week that I was going to be refraining from eating out during the month of November. He and I have different weaknesses in this area. His are coffee shops and convenience stores. Mine are lunches out with coworkers. We both, though, succumb to laziness when dinner is going to be late and eating out is easier.

    I cannot speak for him and he did not tell me he’d do the same, but I’m determined to not eat out at all during this month. Eating out is our big budget buster every month and I cringe to think how much further ahead we’d be in debt repayment if we could better control ourselves.

    So while I can’t make him do it, I’m in! I’ll see what kind of impact this has!

  5. Nicole says:

    I take the challenge for the purpose of identifying extravagances in my lifestyle which could be removed. I obviously have them or I would not be in debt. Thanks.

  6. Okay, I’m in. It won’t be fun, but I have loads of debt to pay off and little money with which to do it, so why the heck not. Bad timing though, because the Pumpkin Spiced Latter at Starbucks is my one guilty pleasure and it’s here for a limited time. πŸ™

  7. Julie says:

    This is by far the hardest for my husband & I. We just had a conversation about this last night, then went to dinner last night, and lunch today….Ughhhh! But we said it’s because we didn’t have any food in the house. Excuses Excuses! I am going to join this challenge for sure. THIS IS SOOOOO HARD TO DO FOR ME!!! But definitely make sense.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I feel your pain Julie! My wife and I have been making excuses for many months. We talk about this at least once a month, but usually give in to convenience. Just looking at our October bank statement we busted our budget all kinds of ways and went hog wild on the eating out. I am actually scared to find out exactly how much we wasted. At first glance the numbers look staggering. Hopefully it will be so much that it really wakes us up to how much we are wasting.

      Welcome to the challenge and I believe we are all going to succeed! One day at a time anything is possible!! πŸ™‚

  8. J$ says:

    AWESOME!!! I want in but no way in hell I can do it right now πŸ˜‰ haha… i like my belly being full!

  9. Serenity says:

    Count me in, too! This has been rough on my budget and my waistline for the past few months, and I’m going on a spending fast that includes fast food. It’s going to be hard because (until recently) I have 4 jobs, all with vending machines and fast food restaurants nearby. But I’m taking my lunch and a water bottle to work from here on out.

    Truthfully, I think it will be hardest on my boyfriend, who likes his burgers and BBQ, but we’ll make it work πŸ™‚

  10. Shawanda says:

    A whole month?! No way, Brad. I was just kicking around the idea of going a work week without eating out. I’m going to take baby steps and try going Monday – Friday for the first week of November. I’ll let you know how that works out.

  11. Brucebucks says:

    What a great challenge! I’ve made it two days in November with no restaurants, plus thanksgiving day is three only 27 more days to go. Thanks for the encouragement!

  12. Briana @ GBR says:

    This is going to be EXTREMELY HARD. Like you said, it’s just so much more convenient, but I have some savings goals to make, and I know a big chunk of my budget goes to food, especially eating out. I don’t even bring a lunch to work anymore; I walk across the street to Fresh & Easy. Hopefully I can survive!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Awesome Briana, welcome to the hard part. Haha! Trust me I know how hard it will be for you, as I have found this to be one of my hardest things to break. Bottom line: I have to get my emergency fund built up fast, and my recent habits have slowed my progress substantially. πŸ˜‰

      Good luck, I hope we can be each others strength!

  13. Meredith says:

    Oh man, I hope it’s not too late to join in! This sounds awesome! I’ve been doing really well curbing my spending in every other area, but I just looovveee eating out. I think this will give me a really good idea of where my money is really going!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Not too late at all Meredith, welcome to the challenge! I am with you, I love eating out for many reasons but the one reason I don\’t like it is because it\’s way too expensive. Haha! October hurt us a little too much! πŸ™‚

  14. Stu says:

    I’m in! Dining out is my number one “out of budget” enemy. I’ve got to slay this dragon. Lets do it!

  15. Den says:

    Hubby and I are inspired! We added up our restaurant debits for the last three months and they averaged $175 a month (and that doesn’t include cash purchases) – yikes! We’ve been doing the debt snowball for 2 years and I guess are tired of it and have been letting the old budget slide…. now we can see why we’re always short every month – sheesh! So we’ve committed to no restaurants in November – and feeling motivated again!! We want to go into the holiday season on track financially and feeling in control again. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  16. Nick says:

    Brad – I’m a stickler for details but usually keep my opinions to myself (except, of course, my obsessive blogging and commenting…). But this one may help you or your readers who take this challenge a little bit.

    Your first and second rules of the road conflict a little in a way that may benefit you – and a way that I exploit all the time to keep me sane! Your first rule uses the word “pay” – so not everything that you eat has to come from the grocery store. I rarely pay for things at restaurants, but eat out often because work reimburses me if it is relating to bringing in business, a mentor/mentee program and some other things that my company approves of. (Also, there are some times promos that go on where you can grab a free sandwich or something.)

    So for any of you who have control over ways you sell or otherwise engage in business, maybe you can try to combine sales pitches or something like that with lunch or dinner. That might make it easier for you to get through the month…

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Nick, you bring up a great point! Something I didn\’t think about when writing this up. For some people eating out is unavoidable, but I like your idea on making an amendment to say as long as you don\’t pay for it, it\’s okay! Thanks for sharing and I am glad you didn\’t keep your opinion to yourself. πŸ˜€

      Come back anytime to share your opinions, even if you disagree with mine. πŸ™‚ I love having a lively discussion from all sides.

  17. Great idea!

    And the real benefit is that those who participate may find that at the end of the month, they might not really want to go out to eat as much as they previously had. Or at least it could set up a “this is a waste of money” mental note in their head!

    I started my Lunch experiment where instead of eating out for lunch everyday, I would put the money in dividend yielding stocks, with the idea of eventually using the dividend money to create a money stream to pay for my lunch eventually forever. I now have from the money stream to pay for 2 days of lunch out per week. But since eating out is not longer part of my habit, I don’t spend that money (instead I do blogging activities). Kind of ironic really…

    Anyway, great idea, and I’ll be sure to put your challenge in my weekly links!

    Kudos to you sir!

  18. aj says:

    Okay…as I sit here at lunch eating my fast food I just bought, I read my email from JMoney about the No Restaurants in November challenge.

    I am going to join starting right now…and go thru December 5th to compensate for last week.

    I really need to just make it an Eat Out of my Freezer/Pantry month as we have lots of food stockpiled to use, and my husband’s work is seasonal which means that starting now thru say March we will be back to only one income.

    We really need plan & save so we can make it through the winter without any worries!

    I realize that even though though the breakfast and lunch I buy at the cafeteria at work is extremely inexpensive, I still spend around $25 a week and that would equal an extra $100 a month! Not to mention all the times our family of 5 goes out to eat…that would really add up!

    Consider me in, even though I have already flubbed up!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Okay aj, you can do it! It\’s slightly hard but definitely possible! Sorry for the late response I have been so busy lately.

      $100 a month could definitely go a log way in eliminating debt, saving, investing for retirement.

      Good luck AJ!

  19. TRAVIS says:

    I’m late to the party, but I’m in. I’ll go thirty days starting tomorrow. I’m heading over to Facebook after this to tell my friends/family about it. I find it more fun to publicize my personal challenges.

    I am really close to paying off the last of my debt. I started with $30,000 three years ago. I could’ve paid it off a lot faster, but I did spend a lot on my 2 hobbies (cycling and photography). Oh well.

    I’ve made it a personal stretch goal to get it all paid off before the end of the year. It’s very tight, and realistically, I should finish it with my first paycheck in 2011. But I want to try for EOY, and this will help me just a little bit.

    I’m going to visit my family for Christmas. I don’t see them very often. It would feel really special to pay off the last bit online while with them!


  20. Geoff says:

    I wish only the best of luck to you all joining the challenge! There is no way I can pull it off. We’ve even tried only eating out once a week and that didn’t last long. I know how much I’d save and unfortunately, that’s not enough motivation for me to start. We could definitely use the savings though so perhaps we will make it be enough reason one of these months coming up.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Sorry to hear you won\’t be joining us Geoff! Not even a week though…you at least have a week in ya, I know it. LOL Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. πŸ˜€

      • Cindy says:

        I too am sorry you feel like you are not saving enough to do this. Saving through the year is how I get my birthday money. No, it does not appear to be much when I put the change in the jar but, it can equal almost $400-$500 by the time I take it to the credit union near my birthday AND it is the reason I was able to be so generous with the 3 children I presented my birthday blessing too. If I had thought the 25 cents hear or the 10 cents there meant nothing; I would never have a birthday celebration because, that is the only way I decided to do it about 3 years ago and it has worked.

        PLEASE really rethink it – maybe you don’t want to do it for a year but – what about a decision to use the money saved to buy each other a Christmas gift – no, it may not be much – but, it could be a start.

        I go by SCRAPS for a reason because, when I started about 3 years ago all I had was $50.00 to put toward buying my home – I now have $10,000 so no one can tell me “A little does NOT GO FAR!!!” I am living proof – it does.

        PLEASE, PLEASE don’t ever think that quarter, dime, nickel or even penny does not amount to much. It amounts to me having a BIRTHDAY BLOWOUT each year and it has amounted to me being able to save for the house I thought I would never have.

        Will you please just give it the rest of the month, PLEASE. Even if you come back and say, I only saved $5.00 – that -s $60.00 in a year – Just time to have a great Christmas Dinner out and saving the $60.00 you would have to buy that Great gift or even pay down on it.

        I know I may sound desperate – but, you are reading the words of someone who NEVER BELIEVED they could do it and someone talked me into $50.00 and now I can say – A LITTLE GOES FAR – Please rethink the IMPOSSIBILITY you BELIEVE IS THERE and take the HAMMER OF POSSIBILITIES and KNOCK IT DOWN. I can say IT IS WORTH IT NO MATTER HOW LITTLE YOU HAVE – SCRAPS GO A LONG WAY and my HOUSE WILL BE MY PROOF – PICK UP THAT QUARTER, DIME, NICKEL AND EVEN PENNY OF THE GROUND – Place the scraps in your piggy bank, your jar, or where you can’t see it – If you think you may get to it – take it to the Bank – I garauntee those who may laugh at you will soon wish they were you – when you just put it there – don’t look at the balance for about 6 months to a year and find out your are more Blessed than you would ever imagine. You see that’s what I did – I dumped scraps in whenever I could and never looked at, listened to or let anyone tell me my balance. Now, $10,000 richer – my next goal is the car and ensuring that whatever house I get is well below what any bank, credit union, realtor or anyone else who does not have to pay the bill tells me I can afford. No house poor for me – more ability to make the mortgage payment twice or even three times in one month – yeah, I’ll get the 30 year mortgage with a plan of payoff in 15 years.

        Sorry Brad – but, all things no matter how small are worth it – I Know SCRAPS will live in me FOREVER!!!!!!

  21. Krystal says:

    When I first read Living up to a name’s blog on the Freshly Pressed, I thought it was an AWESOME idea! In my comment to him, I expressed how inspired I was by the idea. He instantly referred me to your page. So credit is in fact where it is due.
    I decided to start my own campaign… No Drive Thrus in December!
    He urged me to check out your blog and look to it for motivation and advice, which I shall.
    I plan to start my blog today and would love your input along the way! Thanks for the idea and I look forward to the challenge.

  22. Rebekah says:

    Brad, I just found your blog. I am sick and tired of eating out but feel like our family has a bunch of things set up against us for success. I work full-time as an RN in a hospital, NIGHT shift. I am responsible for all the cooking in my house, which I’m not too good at, and really don’t enjoy. But I do it because I want my children to be healthy and eat good food. I am a doer by nature, not a planner, so sitting to plan meals is a rotten chore for me, not to mention the very little time I have to myself. I have two girls, 4 and 2 who are the light of my life, but take up a lot of my time. Most of the time I’m exhausted and I end up with the stare into the pantry at 4pm wondering what in the world I can whip up in a jiffy. I will say things have gotten better recently, but the last two weeks I have had projects at work which I have had to spend extra time at work doing. I think we’ve probably eaten out 10 times the last 14 days. It really sickens me and is hitting the pocketbook and waistline pretty hard. I have just told my husband that I would like to try to keep from eating out for one month and this was before I found your website. Do you have anything to help me? I’m just tired, and fed up and fed up with myself for being too lazy to make good decisions and upset with my husband for not taking a more active role in the “food preparation” department. I need tips!!! Thanks, Rebekah

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hi Rebekah! Welcome to Enemy of Debt.My wife is an RN too who also happens to work night shift. πŸ™‚ I do most of the cooking though, well at least when we’re not wasting our money eating out. We are suckers for convenience and it’s just so much easier to eat out though I ‘m with you on being sick of it. Not only is it rough on my waistline bu it’s killing us financially because I can’t help but think about how much MORE money we’d save if we weren’t spending so much of it eating out.

      All of that inspired last years No Restaurants in November challenge which was mainly for me but turned out to be a popular challenge for the readers. As far as tips go, I’m going to write an update post each week where I will try and offer up tips to make the challenge easier but keep in mind, this is something I struggle with too hence me not learning anything from last years challenge which was super successful. πŸ™‚ I hope you will rock this challenge with me! πŸ™‚ It’s going to be fun!

  23. Ayesha says:

    I’m planning to do this for the month of August 2014! Please let me know if you have any advice to make it go more smoothly. I’m used to going out to lunch at the office pretty frequently, and I also go out to coffee a lot. So this should help me save a lot of money this month if I am successful! Wish me luck!!

Leave a Comment...


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.