I’m far from a money guru, but there is one general pronouncement I’m willing to make:
You probably shouldn’t go to restaurants in your twenties.
Think about it.
You – a relatively poor person who should be investing your limited money wisely – are going to a place where multiple people will be involved in *serving* you: a hostess, a waiter, a chef, cooks, a busboy.
Who are you – the family from Downton Abbey? In what other scenario would you hire that many people to prepare a meal for you?
Restaurants are luxuries. And you don’t need luxuries.
Consider nutrition alone. I (a growing young strapping American male) am almost never satisfied by the portion sizes even at American restaurants, and I’m almost never happy with the prices I have to pay to leave half-full.
I can get far more calories and far more nutrients for far cheaper at a grocery store. A steak at a restaurant is several times more expensive that cooking a steak at home. A chicken dish at a restaurant has a quarter of the meat at 3-4X the cost of a whole rotisserie chicken I can buy at CostCo.
It’s hard not to feel like you’re being cheated when you realize this.
Then you pay a tip. If you’re like me, 15% is the minimum, but you’re usually giving a little extra to be nice. And don’t forget the sales tax. And the stupidly high cost of those drinks.
And you pay all this to do what? Certainly not to get fed. The fine taste demands of your cultivated palate can wait until your thirties. And there are better ways to enjoy a free night with friends.
Discover the joys of cooking at home, and/or shopping cheaply. You get to hone a skill, and your meal can be as quiet and intimate or loud and festive as you want (hey, it’s your house, your rules).
Not a bad deal.
(P.S. I will be going to restaurants occasionally. Sometimes I don’t follow my own advice – sometimes wisely, sometimes not so wisely).