Race to Freedom Challenge #2 – No Eating Out

Hello everyone. There will be two parts to this article. First, anyone who participated, “officially” or not, in March’s Yard Sale Challenge, will need to email me some information regarding that challenge. And secondly, I’ll introduce you to April’s No Eating Out Challenge. Are ya ready?

We only had 4 ladies, officially known as the Fab Four, who participated in last month’s challenge. I would love to have more people become involved as we progress through the year. My Race to Freedom reality series as it was originally envisioned has been scaled down to a much less formal competition. Honestly, it’s really not a competition at all. The goal is to encourage and inspire as many of you as possible, to pay off as much debt in 2011 as you can.

The Fab Four has already started the race, but perhaps you’re still undecided about whether or not to get involved. Maybe you’ll jump in on April’s challenge, or maybe you’ll wait until May. I’ve decided that since I didn’t want to turn anyone down who was interested in joining the Race to Freedom, anyone can join in at anytime they wish. The main reason for this is because if a new reader visits Enemy of Debt, I want them to feel welcome and encouraged to join in. I really would have loved to see my original idea at full capacity, but I do not give up that easy.

My hope is that over time, more and more of you will be willing to jump onboard the debt elimination train! This will be an ongoing thing here on Enemy of Debt as long as I continue to have active participants. I would just like to ask you to take any commitment you make seriously. If you realize it’s not for you at the end of the month, you won’t ever have to do it again, but give it your all for the month you committed to.

All of you are welcome to become animals in your debt elimination journey! The idea is to get it GONE once and for all! Your journey will depend on how fast or slow you want that to happen. It’s completely up to you, but I hope to inspire and motivate you to dig a little deeper than you normally would. As they say in P90X, I want you to BRING IT!

Step outside of your comfort zone, and remember that no journey is without folly. You will mess up, but you can recover and still reach your goals. Go for it!

March’s Yard Sale Challenge

If you participated in last month’s yard sale challenge, here’s what you need to do. Send me an email answering the following questions.

  • How much debt did you pay off total in March?
  • How much money did you earn by selling stuff in March?
  • Were you able to use all of it to pay extra on your debt?
  • Would you do this challenge again in the future to help you pay down your debt faster?
  • What did you love or hate about this challenge?

April’s No Eating Out Challenge

Well here we are. It’s April already, and time for a new challenge.

As most of you know, in November, I challenged myself to No Restaurants in November. The idea was for me to save money because we have a bad habit of eating our WAY TOO MUCH. I would say that the problem has not been treated, only diagnosed. November proved, without a doubt, that we were spending way too much money eating out. We have since went back to pre-November eating out levels so I will be joining you in this challenge as well. My results from the November Challenge.

After discussing it with my wife, we came to an agreement on how we would do it this time. Instead of not eating out at all, something we definitely wouldn’t want to do every single month, we settled on a compromise. Since no eating out at all isn’t sustainable for us, we are going to allow ourselves to eat out no more than 4 times a month, on a budget of $120 max for 4 people.

That’s what we’re doing but I want to remind all of you that while we were paying off debt there was a long stint where we stuck to no eating out so we could become debt free faster. It was worth the sacrifice, but now that we’re debt free, we don’t have to be as intense. We can loosen our belts a little. With that said, if you are in debt, I hope you give no eating out for a month a try. It’s only a month.

You can do anything for just 30 days!

The point of this is two-fold. First, I want to challenge you to save some extra money to help you accelerate your debt free progress, but I also want to help you gain control of something that can get to be VERY EXPENSIVE if you’re not careful.

**If you do not eat out then this challenge might not be for you, but perhaps you could find other creative ways to increase your debt snowball payments.

Remember: This is a challenge, it shouldn’t be easy and it shouldn’t be what you normally do. You should be able to step up your efforts to make this hard but worth it!

If you are joining in on this challenge, answer these questions in the comments section below.

  • How many mouths are you feeding?
  • How much do you currently spend each month eating out? (on average)
  • What is your grocery budget for April?
  • What is our eating out budget for April?
  • How much debt are you hoping to pay off this month?


The Rules of the Road

These are the rules I used for myself back in November. I am sticking to these rules but instead of not eating out at all, I will be doing what I stated earlier. Eating out no more than 4 times a month, on a budget of no more than $120.

  • 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 April? FIND OUT!

Good luck to you all!

Let’s get started! 😀

About Brad Chaffee

38 Responses to “Race to Freedom Challenge #2 – No Eating Out”

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  1. Tricia Kolsto says:

    I am going to do this challenge!


  2. I’m glad it’s a 30-day challenge! We had a $30 eating out budget when we were radically eliminating debt. After six months, we were comfortable with quick dinners at home, but we felt grumpy. We felt too restricted bc 30 bucks is fast food 3x or dinner once! This challenge is great to shock your system- “because you can do anything for just 30 days”.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      LOL, I know what you mean Courtney! Sometimes it’s tough to stick to something like this, but my wife and I have completely lost control in the eating out department. We were out of control before November, and after November (No Restaurants in November) we pretty much returned to our old ways. The money I see going down the drain is depressing. LOL So we’re going to “shock the system” as you said, but we’re going to be realistic. We should be able to eating out only once a week from here on out. That’s a lot for some people, but when you eat out as much as we do, it’s nothing. LOL My goal is to reach a good balance so we can enjoy the times we eat out, but not over do it by wasting so much money. 😀

  3. Katie says:

    I was not in a place to deal with this challenge in November so I’m glad to see it come up again! I’m in for this month!
    Here’s my answers:
    * How many mouths are you feeding? 2
    * How much do you currently spend each month eating out? (on average) $140 *blush* We order way to much pizza! I also have the coffee and a muffin habit on the way to work. This is good incentive to keep a cleaner house because I could just have friends over here for the regular brunch!
    * What is your grocery budget for April? $380
    * What is our eating out budget for April? $20
    * How much debt are you hoping to pay off this month? I’m working on an emergency fund first. I hope to have $161 and have changed to a higher interest account with no fees.

    I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! This will be a big challenge but writing it all down makes it much more concrete! Good luck everyone!

  4. Buster says:

    i’m in this challenge!! it’s only me, but i do spend a lot on eating out! this will help me a lot! looking forward to this challenge!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah Buster!! Woo hoo! Welcome to Enemy of Debt Dude! 😀

      Man eating out costs so much, so now that we’re feeding a family of four, soon to be 5, we’ve got to find a long term resolution. Good luck my friend!

      • Buster says:

        mahaloz Brad! thanks for keeping me accountable physically as well as financially!! i don’t have as much as you to feed, but i am definitely going to do this challenge to become debt free!! 😀

        • Brad Chaffee says:

          Become debt free dude! BRING IT BROTHER! You’re already very wealthy in spirit (one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met online), once you get rid of that debt you’ll be an unstoppable force my friend!

          • Buster says:

            Definitely going to Bring It dude!! thanks for the compliment… i’m jus me! 🙂 you are an inspiration to all! and with this challenge, i know i can do it!! i will do it!!

  5. That four times a month eating out allowance could be the key. It’s the provision that can keep you from falling off the wagon.

    The most effective diet I’d ever been on was the “army diet”, guaranteed to make you lose 10 lbs in three days (it worked). One of the secrets was that you could have a small amount of ice cream every night before bed. That keeps you content when you went to bed, and gave you something to look forword to after a day of near starvation!

    It sounds oxymoronic, but the ice cream was the key to the diet. Kind of like a safety valve to keep you on course.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree Kevin. We did the challenge in November pretty easily but the second the day changed to December 1st we were standing in line at Chik-fil-A or something. LOL This will give us a clear guideline, which will allow us to enjoy eating out as a novelty instead of routine. I’m trying to come up with a list of recipes that are low-fat, and quick to make. Convenience is the biggest reason we eat out so much, but we do enjoy all of the great food. Charlottesville is definitely considered a great food town! Restaurants EVERYWHERE!

      The army diet sounds awesome! Anything that allows you to have ice cream is great! 🙂

  6. Hi Brad! I have a family of four and we’ve been aggressively paying down debts so far this year. This may be hard to believe, but we haven’t eaten out a single time since the beginning of 2011. As in — not even a coffee form Starbucks.

    At first I was all pumped up for the challenge. Now, three months later, I’m thinking a nice restaurant meal sounds nice.

    So…I think your challenge is just what I need to stay focused. Here are my answers to your questions:

    How many mouths are you feeding? – 4
    How much do you currently spend each month eating out? (on average) – $0
    What is your grocery budget for April? – $400
    What is our eating out budget for April? – $0
    How much debt are you hoping to pay off this month? – $1,800

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Welcome Jenny and thanks for taking the challenge. No eating out all year? That sounds like what we did when we were in debt, but then when we became debt free we went wild again. LOL I’m confident that going down to four times a month will allow us to create a new habit. Once we become consistent perhaps we can bring it down some more. 😀

  7. Jenna says:

    Love it! I’m definitely doing it (minus my business trip where I’ll be out of state).

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Rock on Jenna! Welcome aboard!

      • Jenna says:

        Ah! I might have already messed up. Stayed out late with a friend last night and we grabbed Thai food since we were up late talking and not at home…GRRR!

        • Brad Chaffee says:

          No problem Jenna, just jump back on the crazy train and give it another try. Like IO told Diva, even if you mess up you’ll definitely do better than you did last month which means more money to throw at debt. That’s the point of this. Just so you don’t feel bad though, we are doing $120 or 4 times eating out — whichever comes first. We’ve already eaten out twice and it’s only the 5th of April. We went out of town last weekend and ended up at Olive Garden and had Chik-fil-A yesterday while running errands. That’s $76 down already! At least I know we’ve gone an entire month with out eating out at all. That makes it easier to swallow.

          Let’s do this! 😀

  8. Diva says:

    Uggg Brad! Day one and I totally fail on this. I walked out of the house listening to a work call and totally forgot to pull a lunch together to take with me to work. I thought I might find some of the left overs from the “free lunches” my department gets during the week but they were gone. I tried to just subside on cheetos and granola bars and coffee but no such luck. So I went to the cafeteria and bought lunch. Ugg! Ok starting tomorrow!

    How many mouths are you feeding? Just me!
    How much do you currently spend each month eating out? (on average) $300
    What is your grocery budget for April? $200
    What is our eating out budget for April? $200
    How much debt are you hoping to pay off this month? $1000

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      That’s the hardest part too. I struggle with that sometimes too. It’s easier to just be on auto-pilot sometimes and we don’t even realize we’re doing it. And I wouldn’t call it a failure either, because even if you eat out a few more times that you would like, you’ll probably still eat out less than you did last month. That savings will help you pay off debt! Stick to it and do your best and you will be glad you did! 🙂

  9. Natalie says:

    Okay, I’m doing this challenge too!!! I keep wasting money eating out!
    How many mouths? Me!
    Currently spend each month eating out? I’m not sure…probably $100-$150
    What is your grocery budget for April? $360
    What is the eating out budget for April? I don’t budget for one, which is why it is getting me in trouble
    How much debt I plan to pay off this month? $700

  10. Crystalh says:

    I’m totally down for this month’s challenge! I will post a video with my answers sometime this week!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hey Crystal, just so you know you don’t have to post a video. You can just answer the questions in the comments section if you like. Either way is fine though. 🙂

      Good luck on this challenge!

  11. Money Momma says:

    I’m working on my question today…will get them to you later.

    I’m in for the challenge…let’s see how we do.

    GO FAB 4!!!!!

  12. Brad,
    I’m in as promised and haven’t eaten out yet this month. I’ve just been super swamped at PerkStreet. (Helping people live better financial lives is keeping me so busy right now but it feels great!) By the way, your next guest post on Blog.PerkStreet.com is going up TODAY! Sorry for the delay, brother.

    How many mouths are you feeding? — Just my own. Gotta dump my debt before my girlfriend and I get engaged!

    How much do you currently spend each month eating out? — $150

    What is your grocery budget for April? — $175

    What is your eating out budget for April? — Just my mom’s birthday on the 9th (Gotta take your mom out!)

    How much debt are you hoping to pay off this month? — $800 (My last credit card payment, which I’m trying to finish this month instead of next month!)

    One note, I’ve been rocking the super sales at CVS since I’m in downtown Boston as part of my grocery budget this month, but I won’t be buying a single lunch out or coffee, not to mention no dinners or brunches out unless the colleagues want to treat me!

    Be well, Brad, and good luck to everyone else participating!


    Kyle Psaty
    PerkStreet Financial

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Wow Kyle, you are doing great!! Keep it up and I can’t wait for you to get that last credit card paid off! I LOVE IT! I also didn’t realize you were engaged so congratulations there!! (And definitely take your mom out!) 😀

      My wife and I have already eaten out 2 of the 4 allowed times this month. Haha! It’s 4 times or $120 — whichever comes first and right now we are at about $76. (one of those dinners was at Olive Garden when we went out of town with the boys.) 22 more days left to eat out only twice is gonna be tough. It’s also gonna be hard to fit in 2 more times with 2 hungry boys to feed but that’s why we’re doing this. Going out four times is a whole lot better than 800,000! LOL

      Good luck to you Kyle!!!

  13. Ruby says:

    It’s so funny you’d bring this up- I did a 30 day “no shopping” challenge for March, man it was hard…you start identifying little purchases hurt sometimes as much as the big ones you can’t make. No magazine at the checkout stand? No decorations for St. Patty’s Day? No on-sale Tshirt? ARG!

    I did it though- I thought, “What next?” I know I spend way too much on restaurants, but the thought of giving it up cold turkey seems too arduous. Good lord- even when I’ve tried to curb my restaurant/bar/snacks it’s been almost impossible…food? It’s my biggest weakness. I can survive with ruddy old clothes, but being invited out for happy hour martinis and sweet potatoe fries? Ohh noooo!

    I want to do this (even if I’m behind by a week) but I’m literally scared! I gave up shopping, but planning my food for impulse purchases and “treats” just wigs me out…what is with that??!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I love doing challenges Ruby and am even more glad when I do ones that people are excited about! 🙂 Get excited about it and give it a try. You can do anything for 30 days. Trust me. My wife and I eat out WAY WAY WAY too much and are used to it but when we did the challenge in November we saved SO MUCH MONEY, and it wasn’t as painful as we thought it would be. A little less convenient is all. GO FOR IT!! You can do it! Don’t be scared! 😀

  14. Crystalh says:

    I’m super late with my post this month!

    The March Yard Sale Challenge didn’t go well because of my underestimation on shipping costs. Here is my breakdown:
    ■How much debt did you pay off total in March?-only $100 worth
    ■How much money did you earn by selling stuff in March?-$27.30 LOL
    ■Were you able to use all of it to pay extra on your debt?-yup
    ■Would you do this challenge again in the future to help you pay down your debt faster?-I would tweak it by just donating everything and claiming the big tax deduction next year and using my refund to pay off my debt.
    ■What did you love or hate about this challenge?-I loved giving “stuff” away. I felt 10 lbs lighter. I’m jut mad I didn’t know how to properly estimate the shipping on the items I sold.

    So far April is going very well! I went out twice so far and I know I can make it till the end of the month. I’m fortunate to live in a community where we do lots of potlucks-so I get to go out and save money at the same time.

    ■How many mouths are you feeding?-just 1.
    ■How much do you currently spend each month eating out? (on average)-around $225.
    ■What is your grocery budget for April?–see fun money info below.
    ■What is our eating out budget for April?-I have a “hidden” account for fun. $125 from each check automatically goes into an account for fun. This money does not get accounted for for my bills or salary calculations. It’s just a set fun amount. So this month I am challenging myself to have all clothes, gas, groceries, gifts and dining out come from this account or $250 for the entire month. So far so good! I really hope to stick to this system for the rest of the month.
    ■How much debt are you hoping to pay off this month?-I will pay an extra $600 car payment in April.

    I think by trying to stick to my “fun money” account for the rest of the challenge will really accelerate my car payments. I really think this is a good idea and will be really tough. But I like how this is really forcing me to think twice about the “stuff” that I thought I needed. And I am more selective about where I go out to eat so that it’s a luxury and not a habit.

    Yay Fab Four!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      No problem crystal, there’s no deadlines here. I understand that everyone, including myself has a life outside of this blog so keep rocking it and check in whenever you have the time to. We will be here to support and cheer you on!!! Great job!! 😀

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