I feel like I should break into the dance from Dora the Explorer…”We did it! We did it! We did it…yeah!” That’s right. One month. No eating out. At all. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I figured the kids would give me a really hard time, but once we told them what our goal was, they went easy on us.

There were a few nights where I had to get creative, like the day I forgot to put the roast in the crockpot, and we picked up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. I made all the sides. And then last night my kids begged for chicken nuggets. My daughter pleaded, “but mom, today’s the last day of September. Aren’t we close enough?” I told her that we weren’t going to quit when we were almost there.

I think there’s a broader financial lesson in our experience.

  • First, we’re often capable of more than we think we are. Our family used to eat out A LOT. My husband and I have been married for twelve years, and the longest we had ever gone without eating out until this point is twenty days. Yet we succeeded when we put our minds to it.
  • Second, getting the kids on board helps. Kids don’t like to hear that they’re going to be missing out on their favorite things. But when they understand the reason, they’re less apt to give you a hard time. In our case, we explained to the kids that it’s healthier to eat at home. We also explained that we only had so much money, and so we needed to pay for things that were more important. In this case, we mentioned that giving up eating out meant that we could pay for soccer.
  • Finally, don’t sabotage yourself in the eleventh hour. As tempting as it was just to run out to McDonald’s last night, we knew that we’d regret the decision in the morning. Sometime when you get close to your goal, it’s tempting to lighten up and bend the rules. Don’t do it. It begins a slippery slope that’s hard to recover from.

In our case, now that we’ve made it a month without eating out, I am confident that we can hold our eating out this month to two times. Had we given in to the kids last night, I would have been discouraged by our failure on the last day, and I’d be more apt to just throw in the towel, admit defeat, and blow a bunch of money on fast food this month. But we succeeded. I’m confident, and I’m ready for another challenge.

What are you doing to live a more frugal life this week?