Settle for Less to Save Money

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Settling doesn’t have a good reputation. You’ve heard the advertisers say so.

  • Don’t settle for less.
  • You deserve it all.
  • Go for the gusto.

So, clearly, the message is that you should spend all you have — and then some. After all, you deserve it.

But, I’d like to make the case that settling is not always a bad thing. Settling for less can help you save money and stay in the black.

Thanks to my brother’s generosity, FishPapa and I have been able to go on weekly date nights for the last couple weeks. It’s been a wonderful break in our week and a fun time to be together — just the two of us.

Back in the old days, we would have gone out for a nice, sit-down dinner. About fifteen years ago it wasn’t uncommon for date night to cost $40 or $50 bucks. Recently, however, we’ve taken a different tact with date nights. They are cheap dates.

Settling for Less?

Rubio’s, a Mexican food chain here in Southern California, offers a special on fish tacos once a week. For $3.50 we each get two tacos and a plate of chips and beans. A generous salsa bar rounds out the menu and we are stuffed! For $7 we walk out the door fat and happy.

On another night, we took advantage of a Buy-One-Get-One coupon I got from Chipotle. Our bill, after drinks was less than $10. And we had a meal fit for kings.

And in the mail recently there was a large sheet of Carl’s Jr coupons. Carl’s was one of the fast food restaurants I missed in Kansas City, but on our return, we found that they had grossly raised their prices. No more CJ. However, these coupons had some great deals, including 2 Famous Star burgers for $3. We haven’t seen those prices in 20 years! So, you can guess where a few of our future date nights will be?

Sometimes we just go out for coffee.

What’s the point?

Are these the fanciest of date nights? Is the food gourmet quality? No, on both counts. But the point of date night is to spend time together — and for us, to enjoy a bite to eat without 52 interruptions.

The same holds true for a number of different purchases you make on any given day. Sometimes the higher priced item is not necessarily the better choice. And sometimes, settling is just as good as going for the gusto.

In many cases, enough is as good as a feast.

How are YOU saving money?

Link up your recent money saving post or share your idea in the comments.

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  1. I swear you live in my mind, Jess! A dear friend and I were having the same convo today on the phone. She feels I’ve “settled for less than I deserve”, she was using it in almost a derogatory sense. I said I was ridiculously happy, and had more than what a girl could ever ask for–even if I choose to not go out to eat, and make most of our food, and drive an older model {paid for} vehicle. I’ve settled for being rich with memories. 🙂

  2. agreed. We’ve gotten into the habit of going out once a month, and even when it’s nothing huge, the act of being alone and able to focus our attention on just the other person, makes it thrilling, no matter what we’re doing.

  3. Yes, back in the day, we went on those expensive date nights too. Honestly I don’t remember them being any better than the cheaper ones we go on now that we have kids and we certainly don’t take date nights for granted anymore.

    Thanks for the link-up.

  4. Whats a “date night” ?

    LOL. Seriously though, although its hard right now to get away, some of our favorite “alone times” are in bed, after the kids are in bed, and reading stories to each other. We LOVE reading to each other.

    We’re going through The Squire’s Tales right now. <3

  5. For years our favorite date night was to put the kids to bed early and then spend time together. Didn’t cost a thing – not even for a babysitter. the point for us was to have uninterupted time together and it was lovely…until the kids got bigger and started being able to stay up later than us. 🙂 Now we go out for coffee, go for a walk, or go out for ice-cream.

  6. It took us awhile, too, to realize that enjoying each other’s company was the greatest part of the meal. How many meals could we even remember after we’d eaten them? I remember more of the cheap “ice cream dares” (which means ordering a flavor besides the usual) and the laughter when we needed to trade cones with each other more than I can remember any actual meal.

  7. Last spring we moved from Southern CA to the Pacific Northwest and realized they just don’t do mexican food as well here. Part of my money savings ventures have been to continue to expand my mexican food making ability to make our favorites at home, and I have done fairly well! Next up – authentic taqueria style tacos!

    This success has made me realize that I can recreate most of our favorites at home with the help of the internet and a little creativity. That stops the impulse runs for favorites and makes us just make them!

  8. Only 52 interruptions? LOL

    I love the cheap date night ideas. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for coupons and try this strategy. Another suggestion is to try Panera’s or a local diner. Our Nifty Fifty’s has great desserts in huge sizes that can be split between 2 people, and we still pay under $10, probably less for a date night.

  9. Yes, settling for ‘less’ is often settling for more. You are so right.

    Why should we let our choices and activites be determined by advertisers? Why should companies who care only for our money be able to determine our level of contentment?

    Excellent post.

    Annie Kate

  10. I agree. Date nights don’t have to cost and arm and a leg. I just wish my husband and I could find a way to get one in more often than one every six months or so! 🙂

  11. I enjoyed the date night ideas as well! Our favorite “cheap date” is to look at greeting cards together…especially the funny ones!

  12. Less is more when it comes with the peace of mind knowing you are doing what is within your means. Money does not buy happiness. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  13. Hmmm…instead of thinking you are ‘settling’ for less, how about saying you are ‘choosing’ less? My husband recently got a good raise, but we were talking about how we don’t need or want anything special, anyway. We’re still into a quick, inexpensive dinner at the local diner or even Taco Bell. Yes, we eat steak, but the frugal half of me stocks up when its on sale. We’d rather stay home and watch movies on TV than go out to the crowded, expensive ($10+!) movie theater. And no one is making us be this way. It is a choice and we’re happy about it!

    1. @mom2fur, well, I was using the word “tongue in cheek,” but yes, it is a choice — and a better one. 😉

  14. I don’t think you are settleing you are just practicing contentment. Contentment is being satisfied.

  15. Cheap date nights are the best! I think that feeling when you pay too much for a meal out is a total mood breaker, kind of gets you in the pit of your stomach. On the other hand, getting a tasty meal for a super deal only adds to the fun of date night. Me and hubby are all about saving money, since we have, like, none, LOL! We’ve only recently been able to go out almost once a week, since my mother-in-law is living with us and can watch the kids. So, we are experiencing the thrill and novelty of being able to have a date night more than once or twice a year, for the first time in years! 🙂

  16. $50 for date night? Around here in New York you think nothing to drop $100 for a nice dinner and a bottle of wine, but we also have made the switch to hi quality low expense restaurants. Some are locally run and reasonable, we have many amazing pizza joints in new york, but we also love getting take out like chipotle and making it special at home with a bottle of reasonable wine! Linking up my Baby steps to a rockin’ life with more tips for a happier YOU. Have a great weekend! Alex

  17. We’ve just started doing regular date nights. Since we’re scurrying to save money for our impending home birth, these date nights have involved things like the dollar theatre – 2 tickets, 2 popcorns, and 2 drinks for $7 total.
    I like it.
    For our second anniversary, we had just moved to a new area, with very little money. That day we scoured some tickets sites for a jazz show that was happening that evening. Saved over $100 and had a fabulous evening.

  18. we have been settling on date nights too. we used to go eat and the movies almost every date night. now we’ll eat at home and go to the dollar theater. still some grown up time on a budget.

  19. If settling for less when I buy means settling for more in my bank account, I’ll take it!

    My man and I started a “Cheap Eats” list a couple of years ago, showing all the happy hour deals and regular specials around our town, organized by day of the week. I review it once a year or so to keep it current, but we often refer to it when we want to eat out, but don’t want to get stuck with a full-price bill. We almost never pay full price anymore, and by saving on each date night, we get to have more of them – yay!

  20. One of my favorite “dates” with my husband is to spend an hour at our favorite bookstore. We each pick up a few books to browse while we drink hot chocolate and eat a cookie in the cafe. Cheap and fun! If we time it right, we can sometimes pull of a bookstore date after work before we pick the kids up from daycare.

  21. Settling is enough. My husband and I don’t have date night. Instead we have date breakfasts and lunches while the kids are in school. Most of the time we use coupons and keep our meals out cheap. Sometimes our dates involve thrift store shopping or walks along the river walk. It’s all about one on one time together to connect.

  22. I recently needed to replace my 24-year-old Maytag washer. After talking with the lady at my appliance repair shop, I opted to go for the Whirlpool with the fewest electronics, which amounted to the “bottom of the line” washer without all the “bells & whistles”! And it’s doing a great job for a lot less money!

  23. We have been eating in to save money…and to reconnect as a family. From having the kids help me make their favorite restaurant meals at home for less (and healthier!) to date night in my husband. Like you, we easily used to spend $50 to $100 on date night. That is not only in our budget any more but just seems unnecessary. While we still try to get out on occasion, we equally enjoy putting the kids to bed and cooking a nice meal together:)

  24. Making food myself is not only more cheaper, it’s more healthful and bring to attention what I’m putting into my body and the energy I get through food. Thanks for all the great homemade ideas!