Mr. FAF and I are in debt. We’re still paying off the mortgage on our primary residence.
Many people treat a mortgage as part of life and consider it a good debt. To us, however, debt is simply debt. And we want to eliminate it as soon as we can.
That said, Mr. FAF and I LOVE eating out, especially at Asian restaurants. Below are the three reasons why we eat out while still trying to pay off our mortgage:
1. We’re not good at cooking.
I never really learned how to cook until I was 23. My mom did all the cooking in our family when I was still living with my parents.
She wanted me to spend more time on my school work and never insisted on me learning some culinary skills from her.
After I left home at the age of 18 to go to college, I was fortunate to have a meal plan at school.
I also had some great friends who were fantastic cooks and wanted to share their food with me.
When I actually had to make something for myself, I resorted to the easy options: instant noodles, bread, rice and eggs. I don’t know how, but I managed to get by all those years without knowing how to cook anything well.
Before Mr. FAF came to America at the age of 29, he barely knew how to make anything. It was actually cheaper for him to eat out than to cook at home in China. A meal out cost him less than $1. His college and grad school also had cafeterias that offered a wide range of dishes at low prices.
Mr. FAF told me that he starved himself for almost two days when he first came to the US since he didn’t know how to cook or where the restaurants were. He eventually went grocery shopping and looked up recipes online out of desperation.
He has improved his cooking skills a great deal since. But both of us know that what we make is just edible, can fill us up, and is rarely delicious. We can get by with what we manage to cook. What’s made at Asian restaurants, however, is delicious yet complicated to make.
2. We just don’t want to cook.
Sometimes the reason is that we’re just too lazy to cook. I feel guilty saying this, but it’s true. It’s Friday. I get home from work feeling tired and entitled after sitting at the same desk in the same office for five days.
Mr. FAF is tired of staying at home all week eating the same dishes we always make. We look at each other, smile, and decide we need to eat out.
3. Eating out is the only favorite activity we have in common.
Don’t get me wrong. Mr. FAF and I enjoy each other’s company. But when we decide to go on a date, we just can’t agree on what we want to do together so that both of us can be happy.
I want to check out the free museums in DC, but Mr. FAF is not a fan of museums. Mr. FAF wants to watch a new action or sci-fi movie, but I like romantic comedy. While we can compromise, the idea of Mr. FAF not totally enjoying something I like makes me not want to do it.
What do both of us love doing together? Eating out.
The good news
We eat out only once a week when Mr. FAF visits me in DC or when we have special occasions like our anniversary. We try to go to cheaper places like the food court at the mall or Asian grocery stores where rice plus three side dishes are around $7, and we don’t need to tip.
Sometimes we splurge and go to a hotpot or Korean barbecue, but it happens at most four times a year. Below are some pictures from our anniversary dinner at a steak house. It was $60 in total, including an iced tea for Mr. FAF and tip.
Buffalo wings Crab legs and French fries
Mozzarella cheese sticks Breaded shrimp
I know it lacks some green, but we don’t eat like this every day. It was a special occasion which called for some special food.
Our plan to cut costs
When Mr. FAF eventually gets his degree later this summer and moves back to DC, we plan to limit eating out and learn more cooking from Youtube videos or take inexpensive cooking classes to improve our life quality.
We want to accelerate our debt payoff process in order to realize our dreams of owning rental property and reaching financial freedom. And an important part of that plan is to learn how to make and eat healthy and delicious food at home.