Why It’s Okay to Include Eating at Restaurants in Your Budget

In many ways, a budget is to money what a diet is to food. When people think of going on a diet, they often think of something that restricts them from eating anything enjoyable. When they think of a budget, they often think of a rigid financial plan that doesn’t allow for frivolous spending. The truth is, however, that a healthy diet—like a healthy budget—should be comprehensive and balanced enough to include all of the things that you enjoy. Here are three reasons it’s okay to include eating at restaurants in your budget.

Budgeting Limits Unhealthy Options

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as unhealthy spending, the same way there is such a thing as unhealthy eating. Indulging in unhealthy eating is not bad in moderation. The best way to make sure this happens is to “budget” your unhealthy eating into your diet. You can also budget in “splurge” money that you can use for whatever you please, whenever the mood strikes you, which can include eating out in addition to the money you purposefully budget for that.

Budgeting Helps Track Spending

One purpose of having a diet is to simply make you more aware of just what you are eating. The same is true of a budget. The point of a budget is not to eliminate all spending on fun or entertainment—or even frivolous spending—it is merely to make you more mindful of where your money is going. The point is not to eliminate money for eating out from your budget entirely, it’s merely to help ensure that you are really spending your money the way you want to.

Budgeting Provides Flexibility

There are actually several ways you can budget for eating out. You can make a meal budget so that the more often you eat in or cook your own food, the more often you can eat out. You can also portion this down so that you cook or eat in the majority of the time, order pizza or takeout a few times and then use the remainder of your budget for eating in an actual sit-down restaurant a few times a month. One perk of limiting your spending is that when you do splurge on a really expensive meal, you value and enjoy it all the more.

Sometimes, when people realize how much money they are spending every month on food, they also realize they could be doing something they would much rather be doing than eating out all the time. Setting a budget shouldn’t keep you from ever eating out, it should just help you make better decisions about what you actually want to be doing with your money.