I’ve Failed at This Financial Resolution Every Year. But I’m Trying Again in 2024


As a working mom, my weekdays tend to be pretty busy. And that’s putting it lightly.

There are some evenings when I leave to take my kids to activities before 5:00 and don’t get back home until after 7:30. Those are the nights when a quick stop at McDonald’s or a local pizza place becomes a lifeline.

In fact, due largely to my busy schedule, I find that takeout is one thing I tend to spend a lot of my money on. Even though I like to cook and am fairly competent in the kitchen, it’s a lack of time more so than anything else that causes me to run up a large credit card tab on takeout meals month after month.

Meanwhile, over the past few years, I’ve tried resolving to cut back on takeout without success. I’ll start strong in January, when our schedule tends to be a bit less hectic due to a lack of outdoor sports. But I usually start to falter in the spring when activities pick back up (like soccer) and I’m home a lot less often.

This year, I’m once again resolving to spend less on takeout. If I can pull that off, it’s more money to add to my savings account. But since I’ve failed at this particular resolution so many times in the past, I’ll need to be more strategic in my approach this year. And pulling it off may require a bit of a compromise.

It’s important to be realistic

Whether your upcoming New Year’s resolution is to save up for a new car, pay off your credit cards, or start funding an IRA for retirement, the key to being successful is being realistic. If you’re sitting on a $14,000 credit card balance and cutting back on discretionary spending will only free up $200 a month based on your paycheck, then you may not manage to whittle a $14,000 balance down to $0 — unless, of course, you find a lucrative side hustle and are able to commit many hours to it.

Similarly, I need to be realistic with my goal so I don’t end up feeling bad about myself for not meeting it or giving up too quickly. So with that in mind, I’m setting a couple of ground rules.

First, I’m not pledging to never order takeout. Rather, I’m simply aiming to cut back. If I can eliminate one takeout meal a week consistently during the year, I’ll consider that a win.

Secondly, I recognize that I may need to swap some of my takeout meals with a meal delivery service. And you could argue that these are really the same thing, but they’re not.

On occasion, I order food from a service called Mosaic that offers plant-based entrees. When you order a bulk box of 18 veggie bowls (each of which is a full meal), you can get your cost down to about $10 per bowl.

Now I’ll admit that I can get away with eating more cheaply than that when I’m sticking to McDonald’s or pizza. But I also don’t want my family eating so much junk, which is another reason I’m interested in cutting back on takeout. And for a healthier takeout meal, I’m looking at spending way more than $10 per person.

Now because my kids and husband don’t necessarily want to eat plant-based meals like I do, I intend to explore other meal delivery services that cost more than groceries, but less than takeout. I see that as a reasonable solution.

A positive change for my family

If I’m being totally honest, my family can afford our current takeout habit. There are some weeks when we bring in food three to four times a week (though usually it’s less) and that doesn’t put us at risk of not being able to pay our bills.

Rather, my reasons for wanting to cut back are part financial and part health-related. I know I can save a lot of money by doing a combination of more cooking and more meal delivery over takeout. And I certainly think cutting back on takeout could make it so we’re eating more nutritiously.

I’m hoping 2024 will finally be the year I’m able to meet this objective. But I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned and see.

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