71% of Americans Are Cutting Back on This Expense Due to Inflation. Should You?

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  • Many people are struggling with higher-than-average living costs.
  • Consumers are cutting spending in one key category to make their bills more manageable.

It may not be a bad idea.

It's hardly a secret that inflation has been rampant since this time last year. These days, consumers are spending a fortune to put food on the table, gas in their cars, and clothes on their bodies. And we don't know when the pace of inflation will start to slow down.

Not surprisingly, higher living costs are forcing consumers to make hard choices. And in a recent Primerica report, 71% of Americans said they're spending less on restaurants and takeout meals to cope with rising expenses. The question is -- should you be doing the same?

Are restaurant and takeout meals busting your budget?

Prepared meals are a luxury many people enjoy, and for good reason. For one thing, they taste good. Secondly, for people with busy schedules, not having to cook could be a lifeline. And even those who enjoy cooking might want a break from the routine of having to hit the supermarket and clean up after making a mess in the kitchen.

But as much as dining at restaurants and ordering takeout food might enhance your quality of life, if money has gotten very tight, then it may be time to cut back. Say you're normally able to pay your credit card bills in full every month, only since the start of the year, you've been carrying a balance due to higher living expenses across the board. In that situation, it definitely pays to cut out non-essential spending to some degree. And that could mean deciding you won't visit restaurants or order takeout until you're in better shape financially.

That said, if you really love dining out or eating takeout, there may be another expense in your budget you can cut. Imagine you currently pay for cable and two streaming services. If going to restaurants and ordering takeout is more important to you than having a lot of TV variety, you could cancel your $90 cable package, limit yourself to streaming content, and spend that money on prepared food if that's what makes you happiest.

What’s more, if money has gotten tight, you don't necessarily have to cut out all restaurant and takeout spending. If you currently spend $200 a month for meals you don't have to make yourself, you can whittle that down to $100 a month and bank the difference. If you're single, a $100 budget could easily translate to one meal per week that you don't have to prepare in your own kitchen.

Be conservative with spending

If you're managing your expenses just fine despite inflation, then there's really no need to cut back on the things you love. But if you're having a hard time making ends meet, to the point where you're racking up debt in the course of covering your everyday expenses, then it may be time to look at your non-essential spending and make cutbacks. 

Of course, there may be one more avenue to explore before cutting back on restaurants and takeout, and it's getting a side hustle. If you're able to boost your income with a second job, you might be able to keep enjoying the meals you love without cutting back. And that extra money could also help you shore up your savings so you have more leeway in case living costs climb even more.

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