[pictured above: the BEST meal I've ever had - soup and instant coffee at the Galehead Hut on the Appalachian Trail]
The Spend | Dining Out Once a Week
If you're in the habit of dining out once a week, you might be inclined to hit up one of the 'specials' at your local apostrophe-s restaurant. Applebee's is running a 2 can dine for $20 promotion, so let's go with that.
Here's the spend: you sit down to dinner with your better half, chow down on the delectables, and pay your bill with a decent tip - a total of $24.
Meanwhile, you could easily have eaten at home and spent a fraction of that - $8 would likely do the trick.
The Opportunity Cost | Retirement
Dining out generally costs 3 times more than eating at home. In this case, the difference in spending is about $16 per week. Over a year, that multiplies out to $832/year.
Instead of dining out, let's say you opt to dine in and save the difference for retirement. That $832 quickly becomes $1,784.90 thanks to $357.93 in tax breaks and $594.97 in employer matching.
In short, dining at home rather than at Applebee's each week can allow you to save $1,784.90 for retirement this year and every year you spend above ground sucking air.
The Long-term Opportunity Cost | 30-year Value
Should you continue this habit of dining in instead of out, thirty years on, you would amass a total savings of $385,107.11 just from making this one conscious decision each week.
In 'I can't find my caps unlock key' fashion, the 30-year value of skipping that meal out adds up to THREE HUNDRED EIGHTY-FIVE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVEN DOLLARS AND ELEVEN CENTS.
That's a fair amount of cheddar.
It's pretty rare that the wife and I dine out. When we do, we skip the Apostrophe S...ucks restaurants in favor of more unique flavors at local restaurants. It can cost a little more, but by dining out infrequently, we can afford to upgrade our dining excursions while saving a good bit for retirement.
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