Mother, father, daughter, and son eating salad at a restaurant.

4 tips to spend less on dining out

The JPMorgan Chase Institute recently analyzed 15 billion credit and debit card transactions to discover the difference in spending between high and low-income Americans. We’ve been digging through the results, and one of the most surprising things we’ve learned so far is that across all income groups, 16 to 18 percent of everyday spending goes to restaurants.

So that got us thinking about ways to cut down on eating out. The good news is that eating out is a pretty easy thing to cut spending on, with a high and immediate payoff. These four tips will help you spend less money eating out, so you can put more money in your savings account.

1. Start a budget

Do you know exactly where all your money goes each month? Do you have how much you spend eating out? If your answer is “no,” it’s time to get your finances in order and create a budget.

Start a budget by first keeping track of what you spend. There are a lot of free online tools and apps that can help you track spending. Or you can keep all your receipts throughout the month. At the end of the month, categorize your spending into categories like groceries, restaurants, utilities, gas, and housing.

Once you know where your money is going, decide where it should be going. Adjust your categories and spending to match your income. Be sure to budget for savings and paying off debt. And challenge yourself to spend a little less each month in your restaurant category.

Not sure where your money should be going? Check out our budget worksheet.

2. Eliminate one night of eating out per week

If it costs you $25 to eat out, but only $10 to eat in, then you’ll save $60 over the month.

If you don’t eat out frequently, or you aren’t ready to make that change, try eliminating one night of eating out per month and challenge yourself to eat out a little less each month.

3. Stick to water

It’s standard in the restaurant industry to mark up the cost of alcohol by three to five times. So an easy way to cut down on your restaurant spending without changing your habits too drastically is to skip the beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

4. Brown bag your lunch

We know, you hear that advice a lot. But that’s because it really works. If you eat out every work day and spend an average of $7, you spend $140 in just one month. Bringing your lunch from home can easily cut your daily lunch expense in half.


Need motivation to save even more? Let America Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the America Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn’t stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

Take the pledge.


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