I heard a statistic the other day that stopped me dead in my tracks. Forty-nine percent of millennials spend more going out to eat than on retirement. Anyone will tell you that retirement should be a priority, but how easy is it to save for retirement day-to-day? Especially when you get busy and spend money on going out to eat as a time-saver.

My husband and I love to eat out! At one time, my husband and I had a goal: to try every restaurant in our town. We accomplished it in about a year. Now we try each new restaurant as it opens up. If you ever need restaurant recommendations, I’m your girl! But all that eating out can make a dent in your finances. After hearing that statistic, it made me wonder: where do my husband and I stack up?

We do save for retirement. My husband is self-employed, so he doesn’t have a company retirement plan, which has forced us to be very intentional about planning for retirement. When I went through the credit card records to total up our restaurant spending, I was relieved to see that it wasn’t as much as we were investing for retirement.

But I was still shocked to see the grand total we spent eating out. It was easy to think of a million other things we could have done with that money. So I decided: I want to pay more attention to where we’re spending our money – especially relating to eating out.

Here are three steps my husband and I have decided to take:

  1. Have a plan for meals and shopping
    I know it’s usually both healthier and cheaper to eat at home, but sometimes our busy lifestyle gets in the way. I’ve had the most success when I do a weekly meal plan and shop on weekends, so I plan to start doing that again. This will eliminate that moment of looking in the fridge, seeing no good options and deciding we’ll just go out.

  2. Set attainable goals
    If I were to say we weren’t going to eat out anymore, we’d never make it! We would probably give up in the first week. So instead, we plan to be intentional on when we say yes. If friends want to grab lunch or dinner, we’ll go and consider it an investment in friendships. If it’s a birthday or an anniversary, we will still want to celebrate somewhere nice. We’ll budget to use our money in ways that bring us happiness.

  3. Invest in the future
    Eating out is fun, but it doesn’t do anything to help us reach our long-term goals. While we are currently saving for retirement, we want to consider all of our savings options. We can look at putting some of our cash into a money market or share certificates. And now would be a good time to sit down with a financial advisor and make sure we will be able to retire at our target age.

Hopefully, these three steps will make sure I stay on track. I’m looking forward to having a plan for my week, trying new recipes and spending less. The money we save can be invested in our future!