Image Courtesy of Debt Ninja
I got so many great comments from all of you readers when I first posted my personal challenge for myself in 2010 of not eating out for 345 in the new year.
So I wanted to give it some thought and then lay out the “ground rules” for my 2010 Challenge. We’ll do this in a question/answer format. =D
Q: Sometimes, I forget my lunch at home. And by sometimes, I mean a lot. What if I use up my 20 days? Will I have to starve? (From Investing Newbie)
A: In short, no. I live 1 mile from my apartment. So there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to go home in the middle of the day to pick up lunch if I forget to pack mine. I also plan on keeping an “emergency” stash of some microwavable meals of last resort in my desk for when I do forget my lunch and don’t have time to run home. Think: Cup O’Noodles or those Thai meals where you just add hot water. Not appetizing, but better than spending one of my 20 on lunch just because I’m lazy!
Q: What about meeting people out for dinner/lunch/brunch to be social? Will you alienate friends by not eating out? (from me in millions)
A: Unfortunately for me, no. My lab does go out for brunch about 1-2 times per year. But since this number is so small, it can easily fit within my twenty days. The main way that my friends “hang out” is by doing what we call “drinking time”. Which is that we all go to the bar and share a couple of pitchers. I stopped doing this every time because it was starting to be every week. Not I just go for people’s birthdays and to celebrate major achievements like graduation or getting a new job. I should mention that drinking at bars or bowling alleys has NOT been cut out because I see this as a form of entertainment. However, ordering a meal at the bar IS out of the question.
Q: Just out of curiousity, will you count coffee/tea/other beverages in this goal? (from pyschsarah)
This is a question that I have struggled with the most. As I noted before, beer I will allow as an entertainment/social expense (also because I only drink at a bar MAYBE every other month). However, getting a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks is one of my greatest weaknesses. I will sometimes get them in the morning for breakfast. Sometimes in the evenings when I prepare my lectures I find Starbucks a great place to put my thoughts together (and of course I need to order a drink). So this is the compromise I made with myself:
- If I’m getting the Chai as a MEAL SUBSTITUTE (ie drive through in the morning) this is NOT allowed.
- If I’m going to catch up with a friend over coffee/tea this IS allowed as an entertainment expense (paid for through my entertainment budget NOT my food budget).
- If I am going to prepare for my lecture this is ALSO ALLOWED.
Q: If someone takes you out for lunch/dinner does it count? (from Girl Makes Cents)
A: This depends. If it is FAMILY taking me out for dinner than I do not count it (in two years of living in the midwest, NONE of my family has visited).
However, if it is a date or friends taking me out, then this counts. I have to draw this line because I could easily imagine a situation where I could give someone cash to take me out to eat. This is a way of “not breaking the rules” but still getting to eat out. Dates or friends I will try to do cook overs at each other’s places, otherwise it counts towards me 20 days.
So those are the questions you’ve asked me, here are a few more I asked myself:
Q: What about eating out on days where you’re flying?
A: This was also a hard one for me. I hate the idea of giving myself a “free pass” on days I have to travel because I CAN take food on planes. So this is what I decided: On the flight TO the destination eating in the airport counts. I should be able to pack a PB&J sandwich and some chips to eat on the plane if I get hungry. And a few snacks just in case. However, on the way BACK eating at the airport doesn’t count since I may be coming from a place where it wasn’t as easy to make myself a meal.
Q: What about when you’re away from home on a trip for work or pleasure?
A: These days count. All of them. It is just as easy to pick up food at a grocery store as it is to get fast food while not at home. If I’m at a conference that provides food, this food DOESN’T count – just food that I purchase that isn’t included in the registration cost of the conference.
Q: If you slip and eat lunch is the day lost and you might as well eat out for dinner?
A: Unfortunately, yes, the day is lost. However in the spirit of the Challenge I will make every effort to not let one meal cause me to slip for the next just because it doesn’t “count” towards my day total.
I think these were the majority of the questions that I had. I’m so excited about starting this in 2010. The challenge is so exciting for me! I’ve also noticed myself eating my “last meals” at a number of places I know that I won’t get to eat at a lot (at all) next year. Quite an interesting feeling knowing that such a significant change is approaching.
I look forward to sharing this journey with each of you, and hope that as many of you can join me as possible with your own 2010 Challenge!
Do you have any further questions for me?
Also, as some of you have noticed, I have a link on the front page of my blog for the Challenge. I will keep an updated list of the rules and the posts that I make regarding this challenge so that it will be easy to follow how this Challenge goes for me over time.