"I was wondering if you'd explain the rationale of constantly cooking at home versus ordering take-home instead. There are surely advantages of buying dinner for two at a Chinese place for $28.00. The biggest one being that the dinner-for-two deal will save you oodles of time cleaning dishes, which is time you could use making money. I have done the math with this thing, and eating out all the time at sit-downs surely is a waste of time and money in the long run, but if you can order something on your way home -- assuming you call it in first and it's ready to pick up -- then take out is by far a better deal in terms of time.
When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, I cooked for myself all the time at home. I loved to make fried chicken in a pan, but when all was said and done, the kitchen was stuffy, and there was grease everywhere; it was a mess from hell to clean. Finally, I went to Church's or Popeye's and bought take-out: a 10-piece deal for 12 bucks. For a couple more dollars, I could get some milk biscuits. That deal saved me tons of time. I don't totally agree that cooking at home all the time is the best deal. Time is money, and dirty dishes and greasy pots and pans take time to clean. If you are running a small business and time is of the essence, cooking at home is a lousy deal if you do it all the time. If you are going to eat at home, the best deal is to buy pre-prepared foods like potato salad, frozen pizzas (the gourmet type), and and an assortment of other things. That is just my take on it."
I never said any such thing. What I have said is that using a restaurant as your kitchen - eating restaurant meals five or more nights a week, is a very poor financial choice and horribly bad for your health. And yet many Americans will eat out several nights a week, and also eat out for lunch at work, several days a week (if not all the time).
And let's not forget the health cost - most Chinese food in America (which is not Chinese at all*) is loaded with salt, sugar, and MSG. This is a health nightmare in a Styrofoam clamshell.
When you resort to making "Opportunity Cost" arguments to justify a financial decision you've made, it is a sure sign you have made a poor financial decision.
Personal spending, on the other hand, is just spending. If you borrow money to buy a car, opportunity cost doesn't enter the picture. Why? Because there is no other mythical "plan B" you could invest that money into, as you don't have the money in the first place (most folks, don't anyway - they just want a shiny new Camaro). And comparing the risk of not paying loan interest (which is a safer "investment" than a government bond) to risks in the stock market, is comparing apples to oranges.
This myth that you could be "making money" instead of washing dishes or cooking is just that. What are you going to do? Drive back to the factory and punch in?
On the other hand, I still have the energy to make my own meals, mow my own lawn, or vacuum my own carpets. The idea that hiring others to do these things will free me up to write Patents 24/7 is just a fantasy. Hey, why not take methamphetamine and then get back all that time "wasted" sleeping? Have a colostomy and get back all that time "wasted" on the toilet? Throw in a catheter while you are at it. Just strap yourself into your chair and work 24/7. Makes sense to me!
How do I know all of this? At one time at my life, I made the same stupid arguments myself - I lied to myself to self-justify self-indulgent behavior. Hey, I was billing out at $250 an hour as an Attorney! For any activity that cost less than that to hire someone, I might as well just hire it out!
But two things happened in quick succession. My credit card debt started to skyrocket - and I began to wonder "where the money all went". The second thing was, I got fat as a house and started to feel like shit. And it takes decades, if ever, to lose that weight.
That was, of course, false logic. While I might bill out at that amount, it did not represent my hourly income. And an hour "saved" from some more pedestrian task was not another hour billed, in most cases. You can only do so much work, without losing your mind. A better approach, I found, was to use my non-working time to attend to my own life - washing my own dishes, mowing my own lawn, and balancing my own checkbook. After doing these things, I was mentally refreshed and able to go back to more intellectual work. It also got me out of my office chair.
Restaurant food, fast food, take-out food, and prepared entrees, all have two things in common: They are very unhealthy for you and they cost far more than making the same meals at home. Read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential sometime. The "secret ingredient" restaurants use to make food taste good is butter and tons of it. Order a steak? They put butter on it. It tastes more savory and juicy. And we're not talking a small pat, either. Some entrees have a whole quarter-pound stick. And then they load up the meals with empty carbs (bread, rice, pasta). It is very, very unhealthy, and as I noted in an earlier post, about four times as expensive as cooking at home.
What I learned over the last decade or so was that it is possible to go out and make a boatload of money in this country - $150,000 a year or more - and still end up broke. And the simple reason is the "logic" that the reader is applying here - that "convenience" trumps cost every time, and that we are all so "busy busy" that it is OK to indulge yourself and stop keeping track of money.
The opposite is, of course, true. Once you take your eye off the ball, all hell breaks loose. Wealth - real wealth - is not measured in taxable income, but measured in your net worth. High-paying jobs and businesses can be a trap, as they encourage you to think in terms of "opportunity costs" instead of real costs. It is all-too-easy to think, "Gee, I am making so much dough, that I don't need to worry about small expenses anymore! Let's send out for pizza!"