As I looked over the 2007 income statement I wasn’t surprised by too many of the numbers. As usual we spent quite a bit of money on our two homes. Over $37,000 in interest payments alone. My husband’s new $10,000 camera equipment was a little higher than I expected, but we both see that as an investment towards a future career. For the most part we kept our discretionary expenses at a minimum. Books, clothing, furniture, and travel expenses were all quite low. Although I would, of course, like to see some of those categories even lower.
I was surprised by one and only one number: our food bill. My husband and I live alone, no children, no relatives. Our total food bill was roughly $10,500. $4000 was spent on groceries while $6000 was spent on eating out. Broken down $4000 averaged over 12 months is $333 and $6000 is roughly $500. Those numbers don’t seem as horrible, but the amazing thing about that figure is that my husband and I almost never go out for dinner.
Honestly, it’s not so much an issue of frugality as it is an issue of time. My husband and I often work late and drive long distances to and from work. Whoever arrives home first starts cooking dinner, in the hopes that it will be ready when the other spouse arrives home.
What’s amazing about the $500 a month figure is that the majority of these expenses come from purchasing weekday lunches. It’s $5 here, $7 there, and then a few weekend lunches and wham you’re up to $500 a month.
But the problem is I no longer see lunch as a clear discretionary expense. My husband and I both enjoy eating lunch out. Lunch provides a short escape from the work world with people who’s company we enjoy. Although I’m frugal in just about every other aspect of life this is one area I cannot seem to overcome. I realize this is probably the sign of a bigger problem, like the need to find a new job, but for now I need to decide is the brief escape from work worth $6000?