The Richmond restaurant scene is thriving and vibrant. Thousands of eateries in the local area offer everything from fast food to fine dining. Whether one is in the mood for Colombian enchiladas, Mongolian barbecue or anything in between, you probably can find it on a menu at an RVA restaurant.

We are fans of dining out. In fact, the entire country seems to enjoy it — on average, Americans eat out nearly five times every week. Who can blame them? It’s convenient, it’s fun and it offers a wide variety of menu options to hungry diners who lead busy lives. Unfortunately, it can also be very expensive. Americans spend $3,000 eating out every year, about $250 a month.

Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve issued its “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018.” The annual analysis looks at the financial challenges and opportunities Americans face every year. Last year, despite most individuals self-reporting that their economic well-being was in good shape and they were living comfortably, more than a quarter of adults (27%) claimed they would have difficulty meeting an unexpected expense of $400 and 12% say they would not be able to pay the debt at all unless they missed paying another bill. About 17% of adults admit they cannot meet all of their current month’s bills even without an unexpected expense. A quarter of adults say they have skipped needed medical care to meet expenses. The average American has little to nothing saved for retirement. And for nearly two-thirds of adults between the ages of 25 and 34, home ownership is out of reach. Only 37% of millennials are homeowners — compared with 45% of baby boomers.

Many analysts are blaming student loan debt for much of these grim statistics. There’s no doubt that the average student loan payment of $393 a month is crimping many budgets. But not paying them is not an option. If you’re looking for another way to save money, review your credit card statements and add up how much you spend at restaurants in a month. You might be shocked to learn how much your eating habits are starving your savings.

— Robin Beres

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