I read an interesting statistic today - 18 to 25 year olds spend up to 49% more than other age groups on dining out. Doesn't say if that's fast food, fine dining, or drinks, but if I had my guess, I'd say 90% fast food with a smattering of fine dining.
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This was from an article someone Tweeted about buying habits across the 50 states and I just thought this particular tidbit was just SO fascinating. This is the first generation that has grown up in the Happy Meal lifestyle and this is demonstrating how much they have taken this lesson to heart. And don't worry, I'm lumping my three kids right in there too!
I find this kind of disturbing on a couple of levels. One is the money aspect. It doesn't say what proportion of their income they are spending, but it sounds like a pretty significant chunk of change. You probably aren't in this age bracket - I'm certainly not, but think about what you've spent just this week on food other than grocery store items.
Did you get a latte or other fancy drink in the mornings? Grab a pizza or some burgers for dinner on your way to sports practice or whatever? Have a few lunches in the office cafeteria, or lunch out with some friends? Maybe you and your husband have a Friday night date night at a nice restaurant? Even snow cones or ice cream for the kiddos? What about all those sodas or expensive bottled waters? It adds up fast. And if these kids are spending even MORE than we do what do you think their total for the week would be? $100??? $150??? More??
And what are they getting for all that money? Well, nothing really. Not to be crude, but they are spending large amounts of their income on something that is here today and gone tomorrow (in a manner of speaking).
That's money that could be used for a car payment, a down payment on a house, investing in a business, or saving for retirement or a college education for your grandchildren. I joke with my husband that we could have put one (or two) of our kids through college just for what he has spend on soda pop. And it's totally true. If you figure he has three sodas a day at a buck or two apiece times 365 days times 25 years. It ends up being between forty and fifty thousand dollars!
And that's just the soda. Figure in all the pizza, chicken, tacos, and burgers we eat in a year, not to mention the rare times we go out for a nice meal. Shoot, it usually costs me $40-$50 just to take everyone out to Denny's for pancakes and double that for a nice dinner. There's probably a house or two in there after all these years.
And of course, you are paying for all that eating in another way too. With your health. We've all heard all the statistics - heard Dr. Oz spouting forth on Oprah about childhood obesity, diabetes rates, and all the damage we are doing to our bodies with all this excessive amounts of unhealthy food we eat. We're literally digging our graves with our teeth!
So, what's a Mom to do about it? Well, it's probably a little too late if you've got kids in the 18 to 25 age range like I do. They're pretty well set in their habits at this point. But if you've got younger kids, now might be a good time to start talking to them about this.
But talk isn't enough, is it? You've got to set the example and consistently teach them how to feed themselves and their families without falling into this trap. It would be an interesting challenge to see how long you could go without buying ANY outside food or drink at all. One day? Three days? A week? A month?
It would be kind of fun if you put the money into a jar, so you could see how much you had saved over that time. I'd like that part. Brown bagging it to work, not so much.
I think I could probably do one day, if I planned ahead or even three days if I really got serious about it, but a week? A week would be a challenge for me, and a month, I think would be almost impossible to do. I've never really tried it though, unless I was really seriously dieting and then that was just me, not the whole family.
Give it a try. I'd be interested to see what your results are.