Question regarding dining out category

Hi everyone, new YNABer here. I was wondering how people handle their dining out budgeting in regards to the fact that (for me at least) there is dining out, then there is deliveries/take away and then there is social going out to a bar/some public place that you pay to be at. Are these 3 separate categories? Currently I have a Take out/Deliver in one category and then Dining out/Going out in another. I know everyone should do what feels best, but I am just interested in how more experienced YNABers handle these expenses. 

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  • only experienced by 6 months of YNAB, but here's what I do:

    - dining out gets money

    - take out doesn't but I take the money from groceries and log it in take away; only if there is enough in groceries we spend on take away (still wondering what to do with averages; my groceries average spent will always be lower than the amount I should budget...)

    - coffee of lunch with friends usually comes from my own fun category. If it's a family thing more from dining out... 

    In short: I'm not very rigid in the way I handle those categories.

  • I have Restaurants, Fast Food, and Alcohol/Bars. (The latter includes booze for the house as well.) This is an attempt to control the different type of spending. I want to make sure we can get a quick bite while out during the month (fast food), and I don't want our "special nights" to consume all that money. (Thus the separate Restaurant category.) Similarly, I don't want to stock up on liquor and leave myself short for Date Night, so that's a separate category as well.

    It all comes down to protecting money for various purposes.

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    • FWIW, I wouldn't necessarily reallocate between these categories to cover overspending in one of them. Overspending should always be covered from the least important category with funds. That might be one of these three that takes the hit, but frequently it's not.

      Like 3
  • Welcome Steel Blue Stallion ! When you're adding new categories, think about what you gain from the information or a behavior you're trying to change.  For example, if you're trying to cut back on ordering take-out it may make sense to have a separate one!

    Currently, my husband and I use 'Dining Out' for meals together (take out or dine in) and 'Fun Money' for solo meals, coffee, etc.

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  • When I tried to combine restaurant or fast food spending with my entertainment category or my grocery category, a kind of holus-bolus approach to budgeting, my impulse discretionary spending on little things like coffee and snack food increased.  I then came up short when needing to spend on the larger, irregular spending that was grouped into the same category. Result = more funds needed for the category. Not good.

    It's easier to ignore needed changes in behaviour if you combine too many things together. This may not be an issue for you. It was for me. Deciding what was a priority for me was one thing; implementing the necessary changes in my spending was another matter. The separate categories helped to keep me aware of my self-imposed limits and goals.

    • If you are going to spend on an activity no matter what and need to reserve funds for it and those funds would be at risk of other spending if combined in a joint or group category, create a separate category
    • If you think you spend too much on a certain something and want to control or reduce your spend on that specifically, create a category.

    Your best tool is clarity, and YNAB gives you lots of options to set up that clear reality for yourself.

    Like 4
  • Echoing others. My two reasons for having categories are: 

    A. I want to control/monitor that kind of spending.

    B. I want to reserve money for that kind of spending. 

    If neither of these things is true, I don't have a separate category. At one point, I had a "coffee" category because I was a broke student and not getting a coffee out each day made me feel like I was absolutely destitute, so I reserved $10/week so I could always buy my daily coffee. It was a type B expenditure. A finished degree and a job later, it is all just "Dining out." 

    Like 3
  • It's a personal decision. We do dining out which includes take out/delivery/restaurants that we eat as a family.

    My husband and I each have fun money categories where if we do meals with friends (without each other), it goes in that category.

    Non-food expenses (bars, cover charges, entertainment) goes in the Family Fun Money category.

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  • I'm divorced/single and have two kids, and that influences how I arrange my categories.

    I have Groceries, which includes most household consumables and alcohol; Family Meals for dining out, fast food and ordering in for me plus at least one kid; Let Someone Else Cook which is my solo dining out/fast food/ordering in category; and Go Out and Do Things for social meals and entertainment. Oh, and Coffee gets its own category, too. 

    I've been YNABbing for over two years and it took about 15 months to find the level of granularity that works for me. 

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