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Ask Dave

Living Without Eating Out

Will asks what the biggest thing is a family can live without. Dave thinks it's eating out.

QUESTION: Will on Facebook asks what the biggest thing is a family can live without. Dave thinks it’s eating out.

ANSWER: Eating out—other than a stinking huge car payment where you sell the stupid car—you amputate the Tahoe. Some of you have $500, $600 car payments or $450 car payments at 16% interest and that kind of crap. You can live without a $25,000 car and instead be driving a $2,500 car while you get yourself straightened out. Other than that, eating out.

The biggest thing that people do is they sell large items like cars and boats and campers and Sea-Doos and their sisters and all that kind of stuff, and they amputate the Tahoe. The second thing is they start amputating things out of their budget and their lifestyle. By far, the largest waste of money is eating out.

I’m not against restaurants. You people in the restaurant business get mad at me. Don’t get mad at me. I eat at restaurants a lot. I’m not against eating at a restaurant. I’m against eating at a restaurant when you’re deeply in debt, and you’re trying to get out of debt. About 80–85% of what you pay for a meal in a restaurant has nothing to do with the food cost. It has to do with the experience, the building, the labor, the preparation of the food—the whole thing.

I love a good high-quality restaurant. I enjoy it, and I want you to go eat there when you’re not broke. But lots of families spend a lot of money on that—a lot of money. One way to break the cycle of that or break the cycle of the cash-flow drain on your family is to stay away from a restaurant. You’ll often hear me say when I’m talking to someone that you’ve got to do some wild stuff here. You’ve got to not see the inside of a restaurant unless you’re working there. That’s it. Just make some sense out of this thing. Let’s get in attack mode. That’s the idea.