Millennials eat up savings by dining out too much, study shows

Sophia Tulp
Saved: The case of the $1,100 takeout budget
Saved: The case of the $1,100 takeout budget

You might want to hold onto your mimosa for this one.

A new study says that the average millennial eats out five times a week, and between Starbucks runs and bar tabs, it's making it harder for them to develop a savings habit.

While millennials may be known for their work ethic and tech-savvy tendencies, their financial reputation isn't quite as gleaming so far. A study conducted by says that millennials are falling victim to common financial vices, like spending money on eating out. And it's not their fault, since the growing popularity of online ordering service like Postmates, Uber Eats and Grubhub, make ordering food and avoiding supermarkets easier than ever.

Bankrate says its data shows that 29 percent of Millennials say they buy coffee at least three times per week, 51 percent go to a bar at least once a week and 54 percent eat out at least three times a week or more -- and the costs add up.

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By comparison, 59 percent of Americans say they don't purchase any brewed coffee per week, 73 percent say they don't drink at bars as a matter of habit each week and 40 percent say they only buy take-out once a week.

"When you're young there's just a lot of temptation out there … so you're going out and spending time socializing and dining and dating which often takes place at bars and restaurants," Sarah Berger, who runs Bankrate's millennial blog, "The Cashlorette," says. "It can definitely get expensive."

Travel is not going to solve your problems, millennials
Travel is not going to solve your problems, millennials

Adam Bublitz, 19, a sophomore at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., indulges in Starbucks drinks at least twice a day. His order of choice is a 30-ounce iced coffee with nonfat milk and five pumps of sugar-free vanilla.

"It definitely is a lot of money," Bublitz says. "It's like $25 every two weeks or so, it's a weird form of an addiction." But he adds that he needs his java jolt in the morning. "My (co-workers) will notice if I haven't had coffee, I need a lot to get my day started," he said.

Grant Sabatier, founder of Millennial Money, a personal finance blog, says Bankrate's findings are indeed representative of millennials -- at least when it comes to pricey coffee-based drinks.

"The average millennial drinks more coffee and spends more on coffee per year than saving for retirement," Sabatier says.

Sabatier says that eating out, ordering coffee and going to bars are all possible as long as Millennials are saving 20 percent of their income at the same time. The key, he says, is balancing and budgeting.

And many see it is a key element of their social lives.

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"Eating out is more than just food; it's about the experience," Sabatier says. "It's worth it to pay a little bit extra to go to a restaurant with a super cool roof deck or an outdoor patio."

Taylor Kocher, 20, who is about to start her junior year at Boston University, said she orders take-out or goes to restaurants about three times a week. She says apps like Yelp's Eat24, Postmates and Seamless make ordering take-out easier, making it harder to avoid. It's not just about the food: She looks forward to meeting friends.

"Sometimes it's hard to get one less cup of coffee when you want it, or skip going out to eat when you just want to have a nice night out somewhere," Kocher says.

Berger advises finding a budget system, like envelope budgeting: allocating a monthly, predetermined amount of cash for each expense and putting it in an envelope. It's the little expenses that add up.

"I don't think it's realistic to say 'Starbucks is the reason you can't afford a home,' Berger says. "I don't think that's accurate and I don't think that's fair. It's when these expenses stack up and you start to spiral that you might be sacrificing some of those savings goals."

Sophia Tulp is a journalist, graphic designer, and multimedia communicator. She currently works as a digital producer for USA Today.

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This article originally appeared on USA Today.

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