How to Manage Variable Living Expenses in a High Inflation Environment

August 25, 2023

Some variable living expenses, like what you spend on food delivery and entertainment, have gone up significantly. But the good news is that variable expenses are largely in your control!

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Living expenses, and this is what I think is really, really interesting. We talked a lot about how, with the other aspects, there are things that you can’t control and things that you can control well. Inside a variable like living expenses, I’m going to argue you have a lot of control over this one. So, while inflation can be present in these areas, a lot of this is personal behavior. Do an accurate self-assessment as we talk through. Say, “Man, okay, maybe I’m making some decisions that perhaps are not in my best interest.” Yeah, let’s, when you think about restaurant prices, I know inflation has impacted this too. And look, you do have control on how often you go to restaurants. But the part that’s uncontrollable, the prices, are up 23%. That’s right, since 2020 they’re up 20. It’s gone up 23% over the last few years. That obviously hurts.

But I was shocked because Bo, I don’t mind—I once again, I’ll just play the bad guy part on this episode—Daniel in the content team, you know, when Daniel and Megan showed me this, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, the average American spends $67 a week on food delivery services. And when you say “food delivery services,” you’re talking about GrubHub, UberEats, yeah. When I see that stat, $60, we know, when I see the average person spend $67, I look at myself and I go, “This guy isn’t doing it.” So I know that if people like me aren’t doing them, people who are good with money aren’t doing it, that means there are a lot of folks out there spending over a hundred dollars a week just on food delivery services.

Let’s talk about how significant of an impact this can have on your finances. If you just take the cost of a Chick-fil-A Sandwich meal, just a regular—I think that’s a number one Chick-fil-A meal—if you go in-store and buy that meal, it’s gonna cost you ten dollars and nine cents. That’s the baseline cost. However, if you use a delivery service like Postmates, you’re gonna pay a little over nineteen dollars for that. If you use UberEats, it’s going to be $19.50. GrubHub is over twenty-six dollars. And then DoorDash, if you’re ordering a number—well, I think it’s number one—if you’re ordering the Chick-fil-A Sandwich meal from DoorDash, that ten-dollar meal is going to cost you $29.

Again, Brian, I’m gonna do the disclaimer because I have a feeling you’re about to get mad about this. We are not suggesting you should not use these services. We are not collectively suggesting that. But if you are using these services, make sure there is a purpose and a reason behind why you are doing this. You’re saying, you know what, instead of me driving 30 minutes to Chick-fil-A and sitting in line, just, I’m gonna order this and that’s gonna let me work for an additional 30 minutes or whatever the case may be. Make sure you understand the opportunity cost of the decisions you’re making. Because if you’re like, “Oh man, it’s just costing me so much to feed my family,” but one of the ways you’re feeding them is using food delivery services, it’s probably not all inflation. It’s probably some consumer behavior on your end.

I remember the first time I went to Hollywood, this is back in the mid-2000s, and my wife had this whole list of all these places she wanted to go eat because that’s where supposedly celebrities were going to be and again, there’s Paparazzi set up outside of them. And one of them had a picket fence in front of it. And I remember, like I said, it’s mid-2000s, the cheeseburger there was 25 dollars. I was like, “What are we doing? What, what? $25 for a cheeseburger?” And then I see there are people, I don’t know where they live, but it’s not Hollywood, sure, and there’s not Paparazzi taking pictures of them. So, they look cool sitting in this restaurant eating the $25 cheeseburger. This is people delivering to their house a $30 Chick-fil-A sandwich that they could for a third of the price. What are you, what are y’all doing?

I mean, this is the part. If you have, if you’re not funding your Roth IRA, if you’re not maxing out your 401K, and you’re still using these services, you should feel somewhat convicted. That you, I don’t know how these businesses are working, it shows me there’s a lot of people that don’t understand the value of time. Now, you’re saying, “I do understand, that’s why I’m using it.” No, you, because I’m telling you, you have to figure out how you can get as much money invested as early as you can. So, at some point, you will own your time completely, meaning your money works harder than you do with your back, your hands, and your brain. If you’re using services like this to the detriment of your financial future, you don’t value time the way you think you do. For more information, check out our free resources.



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