Shaming millennials for their eating habits isn’t something we get off on (which is more than I can say about some people), but a recent Bankrate.com study came up with some findings that are interesting at the very least: This generation eats out at restaurants or else orders food to be delivered an average of five times a week, which is considerably more than previous generations. And while it’s certainly not the main reason we can’t afford to buy homes during the same life phase as previous generations, it’s likely taking a toll on our ability to save money.
Why do we love spending money on food so much? There are of course a number of factors at play, and one of the big ones is ease of access. With the emergence of food-delivery services like Postmates, Uber Eats, Caviar, Seamless and Door Dash, with the tap of a few buttons, your favorite ramen spot with the horrendous parking can be delivered straight to your couch-bound butt within an hour.
But you pay for this convenience, of course. Food-delivery services make money by either increasing prices, charging delivery and service fees, or a combination of the two. Meaning a meal that’s already a nice-but-not-necessary spending item becomes even more of a luxury (and speaking from personal experience, habitually ordering delivery is a fastback to Blowing Your Budget Town).
The other big factor at play? You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it three million times: This generation loves “experience over things.” And dining out with friends is an experience. So is going to a bar, which more than half of millennials do at least once a week.
We’re also more into quality and conscientious food — fresh, less-processed grub with fewer artificial ingredients is a priority, and it generally comes with a higher price tag. Whereas our parents were busy counting calories, we’ll plunk down for produce that’s the freshest of the fresh, and supplement meals with $10 cold-pressed juices.
None of which is categorically irresponsible. But the key is keeping an eye on things by tracking your spending. You don’t necessarily need to axe happy hour if you’re able to tighten the belt somewhere else, and developing these kinds of mindful, practical saving habits that fit your lifestyle are key to striking the right balance.