18 votes

How Eating Out Keeps You Poor

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77 comments

  1. [58]
    MimicSquid
    Link
    Yes, it is your own desire for something pleasant and easy that is keeping you poor, not any larger economic factors. It is entirely your fault, and you should feel bad for wanting or having...

    Yes, it is your own desire for something pleasant and easy that is keeping you poor, not any larger economic factors. It is entirely your fault, and you should feel bad for wanting or having anything good rather than buckling down and being a monk in order to not work and suffer until you die.

    What a hideous mindset. It's true that eating out is more expensive, but people aren't poor because they eat out. They're poor because the economy is brutal for everyone other than the very rich. Keeping people focused on their own personal "failings" as opposed to the way that the system itself is failing them is part of how everyone is kept calm. It's so much easier to hate yourself than to take action to change the brutality built into the system.

    56 votes
    1. [8]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      If you think about it, it's a little bizarre that eating out gets so much crap. I mean, it is true that it tends to cost a lot of money. But pragmatically, food preparation should benefit from...

      If you think about it, it's a little bizarre that eating out gets so much crap.

      I mean, it is true that it tends to cost a lot of money. But pragmatically, food preparation should benefit from massive returns to scale. It ought to be way cheaper to go out to a big cafeteria style kitchen where you pick from several fresh options than maintain such a kitchen and manage the duties of stocking and preparing the food yourself (if you value your cooking time that is).

      It's culturally accepted that every apartment and house have its own kitchen. And as someone who likes to cook that appeals to me for sure. But if we were to build a society/culture with a purely cost-benefit, profit maximizing lens on (as so much financial advice tries to push us to do) there is just no way we'd decide everyone needs to have their own kitchen with a full stove and oven and a big fridge. Realistically you'd get a hot plate, a water boiler, and a small fridge for essentials and going out to eat in a cafeteria would be the norm.

      In fact, that's basically how village or manoral life traditionally worked. Everyone did their jobs during the day and the kitchen people prepared the meals. They prepared fancy meals for the lords of the manor and more modest meals for the workmen and servants, like a giant stew pot. Even afterwards, in commercial society, workers tended to eat in public houses where there was usually a stew or a roast on the table. This was because they had to sleep in big worker's hostels or dormitories where they didn't have access to kitchens, or if they did it would have been a communal one.

      22 votes
      1. [7]
        JXM
        Link Parent
        You're right. But then you have to go out to eat 3 times per day. That's a major inconvenience.

        ...there is just no way we'd decide everyone needs to have their own kitchen with a full stove and oven and a big fridge.

        You're right. But then you have to go out to eat 3 times per day. That's a major inconvenience.

        3 votes
        1. [6]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          In this context, you'd just have community cafeterias on every block. This is basically how college was for me. We didn't have kitchens in the dorms, just a kitchenette in the basement with a...

          You're right. But then you have to go out to eat 3 times per day. That's a major inconvenience.

          In this context, you'd just have community cafeterias on every block. This is basically how college was for me. We didn't have kitchens in the dorms, just a kitchenette in the basement with a single 4-burner stove to serve a dorm of ~150 people and 2 microwaves on each of the 6 floors. Most actual meals that weren't ramen or hot-pockets were eaten in the dining/mess hall across the street.

          This is also how most military barracks work.

          9 votes
          1. [5]
            JXM
            Link Parent
            While that works in urban settings, it doesn't work well when people are more spread out.

            While that works in urban settings, it doesn't work well when people are more spread out.

            3 votes
            1. ubergeek
              Link Parent
              It's almost like it's super inefficient to have urban sprawl, and we should do something that reduces it, and encourages more people to live in cities...

              It's almost like it's super inefficient to have urban sprawl, and we should do something that reduces it, and encourages more people to live in cities...

              3 votes
            2. [3]
              NaraVara
              Link Parent
              It worked in medieval manors, which are hardly "urban" settings. Neither are many universities. They're densely built, but they're not "urban" in any real sense of the word. And if people are...

              While that works in urban settings, it doesn't work well when people are more spread out.

              It worked in medieval manors, which are hardly "urban" settings. Neither are many universities. They're densely built, but they're not "urban" in any real sense of the word.

              And if people are really spread out in bedroom communities, they wouldn't be eating out as much anyway so the topic is moot.

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                JXM
                Link Parent
                Universities function much like an urban area, where all of the services are concentrated in a relatively compact geographic area. In the suburban area where I live (which is in a college town,...

                Universities function much like an urban area, where all of the services are concentrated in a relatively compact geographic area.

                In the suburban area where I live (which is in a college town, ironically enough...) it's very spread out once you get outside of the university. It just doesn't seem practical to have cafeterias close enough to everyone that they can easily walk there. And if they aren't within walking distance, you're leaving out people without transportation and those are the people that could benefit the most from an idea like this.

                I really do think it's an interesting concept, I just don't know how well it would work in the real world.

                3 votes
                1. NaraVara
                  Link Parent
                  I was specifically talking about the cultural norm that everyone have their own kitchen regardless of personal/living situation. In a world without that norm, people wouldn't be choosing to live...

                  I was specifically talking about the cultural norm that everyone have their own kitchen regardless of personal/living situation. In a world without that norm, people wouldn't be choosing to live in isolated pods that are far away from each other. Like I said, even rural or manoral economies historically tended to keep people clustered together for safety and security as much as anything else. The idea of nuclear families in disconnected domiciles is a historic aberration.

                  3 votes
    2. [49]
      papasquat
      Link Parent
      The video covers this. Rising healthcare costs, education costs, and housing costs are the primary factors for economic burden on individuals, but for most people those are fixed costs. You can't...

      The video covers this. Rising healthcare costs, education costs, and housing costs are the primary factors for economic burden on individuals, but for most people those are fixed costs. You can't change how much you have to pay for your student loan, you can't magically make yourself healthy, and for most people, where they live is tied to where they work, so they can't drastically change their housing costs either. None of that is what the video is about.

      As far as discretionary spending goes, eating out is the biggest factor for most people where they can cut back. It's an extravagant luxury, but there are many people who view it as a necessity instead, which prevents them from getting a foothold on actually building any sort of long term savings or equity.

      7 votes
      1. [16]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Cooking at home is an extravagance for people who are time constrained or lack easy access to fresh produce.

        It's an extravagant luxury, but there are many people who view it as a necessity instead

        Cooking at home is an extravagance for people who are time constrained or lack easy access to fresh produce.

        13 votes
        1. [6]
          JakeTheDog
          Link Parent
          My experience is the opposite, by far. Spending ~7 hrs a week making 3x7 meals (including 1.5hrs for groceries) is so much more time-efficient then having to travel to/from a cafeteria, especially...

          My experience is the opposite, by far. Spending ~7 hrs a week making 3x7 meals (including 1.5hrs for groceries) is so much more time-efficient then having to travel to/from a cafeteria, especially if I can eat 2/3 meals a day while working.

          If I had more time (and maybe a little more money) I would eat out more.

          7 votes
          1. [5]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            There are meal prep services that just pre-make the food and send it to you to heat up. Basically TV dinners, but fresher. And cooking for yourself in bulk is a lot easier than for a family. You...

            There are meal prep services that just pre-make the food and send it to you to heat up. Basically TV dinners, but fresher.

            And cooking for yourself in bulk is a lot easier than for a family. You get bulk discounts, but prep and cleaning end up taking a lot more time.

            1 vote
            1. [4]
              JakeTheDog
              Link Parent
              How are those prep services relevant? That's even less desirable. And the economy scales with prep and cleaning, too. It's one of the main motivators for me, as someone who doesn't enjoy the...

              How are those prep services relevant? That's even less desirable.

              And the economy scales with prep and cleaning, too. It's one of the main motivators for me, as someone who doesn't enjoy the prep/clean aspect as much. Plus, ideally, when cooking for the family—if there is any discipline at all and barring multiple infants (who don't eat anything complicated anyways)—there would be at least one extra pair of hands to help.

              3 votes
              1. [3]
                NaraVara
                Link Parent
                How is it less desirable to have it all done for you? I'm not talking Blue Apron. I'm talking meal kits. Only for a window. When they're young they're more harm than good, and when they're older...

                How are those prep services relevant? That's even less desirable.

                How is it less desirable to have it all done for you? I'm not talking Blue Apron. I'm talking meal kits.

                Plus, ideally, when cooking for the family—if there is any discipline at all and barring multiple infants (who don't eat anything complicated anyways)—there would be at least one extra pair of hands to help.

                Only for a window. When they're young they're more harm than good, and when they're older they're generally too busy to be involved. High school aged kids these days are over scheduled to hell. Ordering a pizza for the group becomes really easy when you work multiple shifts and are on your feet all day.

                1 vote
                1. [2]
                  JakeTheDog
                  Link Parent
                  Less desirable because if we're talking about regular/daily meals there is more overhead (which is more costly), more pollution (transport) and either I have to reheat it (which is less...

                  Less desirable because if we're talking about regular/daily meals there is more overhead (which is more costly), more pollution (transport) and either I have to reheat it (which is less appetizing) or I have to make it anyways.

                  Regarding the young - that's what I mean by less complicated meals. All my friends kids just eat mushed or smaller portions of what they eat. For teenagers, that's what I mean about discipline. No child is too "busy" to spare 10 min to help clean the dishes or to set the table.

                  And is pizza what you mean by meal kit?

                  2 votes
                  1. ubergeek
                    Link Parent
                    My son in college, with 19 credit hours this semester is too busy to help with meals... My youngest in HS is too busy, with IB coursework, AP classes, community service hours (for that college...

                    My son in college, with 19 credit hours this semester is too busy to help with meals...

                    My youngest in HS is too busy, with IB coursework, AP classes, community service hours (for that college resume) to help with meals.

                    Do you have kids?

        2. [6]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          Are there many places where restaurants are easily accessible and have easy access to fresh produce, but people living in those same areas don't? It's my understanding of the food desert problem...

          Are there many places where restaurants are easily accessible and have easy access to fresh produce, but people living in those same areas don't? It's my understanding of the food desert problem that food deserts lack easy accessibility of any fresh food whatsoever.

          3 votes
          1. [5]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Restaurants get food delivered in trucks, they're not getting it from a grocery. And in most cases, it's fast food so the food is mostly pre-processed.

            It's my understanding of the food desert problem that food deserts lack easy accessibility of any fresh food whatsoever.

            Restaurants get food delivered in trucks, they're not getting it from a grocery. And in most cases, it's fast food so the food is mostly pre-processed.

            1 vote
            1. [4]
              papasquat
              Link Parent
              So if it's the same, low quality food in both cases, how is that an argument in favor of eating at a restaurant?

              So if it's the same, low quality food in both cases, how is that an argument in favor of eating at a restaurant?

              2 votes
              1. [3]
                NaraVara
                Link Parent
                Work a few shifts in a diner and you'll get a sense for how much energy you have left to cook for a family when you're done.

                Work a few shifts in a diner and you'll get a sense for how much energy you have left to cook for a family when you're done.

                3 votes
                1. [2]
                  papasquat
                  Link Parent
                  Different argument. That's an argument of convenience, not of availability. Still, even accounting for that, things like frozen dinners still put you ahead of all but the absolute lowest quality...

                  Different argument. That's an argument of convenience, not of availability. Still, even accounting for that, things like frozen dinners still put you ahead of all but the absolute lowest quality fast food prices, as far as affordability are significantly more convenient than even waiting in line at a drive through, and are generally healthier than most restaurant food also.

                  3 votes
                  1. NaraVara
                    Link Parent
                    6 of 1, half dozen of the other. If you're in a food desert the availability is also usually an issue of convenience. It's the "convenience" of hoofing it or riding a bus to get to a grocery...

                    That's an argument of convenience, not of availability.

                    6 of 1, half dozen of the other. If you're in a food desert the availability is also usually an issue of convenience. It's the "convenience" of hoofing it or riding a bus to get to a grocery store.

                    Still, even accounting for that, things like frozen dinners still put you ahead of all but the absolute lowest quality fast food prices, as far as affordability are significantly more convenient than even waiting in line at a drive through, and are generally healthier than most restaurant food also.

                    Not really if you like anything resembling variety or taste. A chipotle burrito is dirt cheap for 2 meals worth of food, and doesn't involve having to carry a lunchbox with you.

                    All this and you're assuming people are going to sit there and do this math each day rather than figuring out their meals as they go along like normal human beings instead of self-optimizing homo economicii. For what, exactly? To moralize at people showing their revealed preference in a way that only serves to distract from the actual structural issues at the root of the problem?

                    2 votes
        3. [3]
          Octofox
          Link Parent
          I have literally never met a person who has no time at all for cooking and can't find fresh produce. This doesn't mean those people don't exist but that there is a massive amount of people who...

          I have literally never met a person who has no time at all for cooking and can't find fresh produce. This doesn't mean those people don't exist but that there is a massive amount of people who actually do have the resources to cook at home but don't.

          2 votes
          1. cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            You don't know anyone who works double shifts, is on call, or works multiple jobs to make ends meet? Because that is a pretty sizeable portion of people in the workforce and I guarantee you most...

            You don't know anyone who works double shifts, is on call, or works multiple jobs to make ends meet? Because that is a pretty sizeable portion of people in the workforce and I guarantee you most of them don't have the time/energy available to cook every meal for themselves.

            And as for "can't find fresh produce": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert

            In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that 23.5 million Americans live in "food deserts"

            4 votes
          2. ubergeek
            Link Parent
            You've never met someone working 3 full time jobs? I have. Many of them.

            You've never met someone working 3 full time jobs?

            I have. Many of them.

            2 votes
      2. [7]
        JXM
        Link Parent
        Except that they are constantly rising. They used to be a much smaller part of your monthly expenses but the cost just keeps going up. That's what we should focus on fixing, not the fact that...

        The video covers this. Rising healthcare costs, education costs, and housing costs are the primary factors for economic burden on individuals, but for most people those are fixed costs.

        Except that they are constantly rising. They used to be a much smaller part of your monthly expenses but the cost just keeps going up. That's what we should focus on fixing, not the fact that people are eating out.

        7 votes
        1. [6]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          Kind of a strange takeaway. Let me ask you a couple of questions in response. When do you think those costs will get under control so people can plan on when they'll no longer be burdened by them?...

          Kind of a strange takeaway. Let me ask you a couple of questions in response.
          When do you think those costs will get under control so people can plan on when they'll no longer be burdened by them?
          What kind of influence do you think the people who made this video have on healthcare, education, and housing costs?

          2 votes
          1. [4]
            JXM
            Link Parent
            As a US citizen, a lot of that hinges on the next election. But in the broader sense, it is solved in a lot of the world. There are plenty of countries where healthcare and education are...

            When do you think those costs will get under control so people can plan on when they'll no longer be burdened by them?

            As a US citizen, a lot of that hinges on the next election. But in the broader sense, it is solved in a lot of the world. There are plenty of countries where healthcare and education are completely paid by taxes and not something one has to worry about as a daily cost.

            What kind of influence do you think the people who made this video have on healthcare, education, and housing costs?

            The same amount that you or I do...but that's not exactly the point. We should focus on changing the underlying causes of issues instead of just trying to bandaid over the issue by telling people to spend less money on eating out.

            3 votes
            1. papasquat
              Link Parent
              Who is doing that though? The video acknowledges up front that the primary reason people are poor are healthcare, housing, and education costs. No one in the video or the entire thread said that...

              We should focus on changing the underlying causes of issues instead of just trying to bandaid over the issue by telling people to spend less money on eating out.

              Who is doing that though? The video acknowledges up front that the primary reason people are poor are healthcare, housing, and education costs. No one in the video or the entire thread said that we shouldn't focus on fixing those things. People are capable of voting within their interests as far as policy goes while also making prudent personal financial decisions, it's not an either or scenario.

              2 votes
            2. [2]
              stu2b50
              Link Parent
              Why not do both?

              Why not do both?

              1 vote
              1. JXM
                Link Parent
                There's nothing wrong with that at all. I don't think I said anywhere that this video shouldn't be made (if I did or implied that, it was not my intent) but it's just important to take a look at...

                There's nothing wrong with that at all. I don't think I said anywhere that this video shouldn't be made (if I did or implied that, it was not my intent) but it's just important to take a look at this type of thing within the larger context of financial issues.

                I get what the video is saying. I understand why they're saying it. Eating out is something you can control right now to decrease the amount of money you spend each month. I don't disagree with that sentiment.

                1 vote
          2. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Probably less influence than they have on the number of meals people take away from home.

            What kind of influence do you think the people who made this video have on healthcare, education, and housing costs?

            Probably less influence than they have on the number of meals people take away from home.

      3. [21]
        SantalBlush
        Link Parent
        I would argue that they are behaving rationally given their risk exposure. If they save, say, $150 more a month, and this is kept for unforseen costs, it won't make a difference with many of the...

        I would argue that they are behaving rationally given their risk exposure. If they save, say, $150 more a month, and this is kept for unforseen costs, it won't make a difference with many of the potential crises they face; they will go bankrupt either way. They may as well spend some money now and enhance their well-being. When one's discretionary income is tiny, spending it is much more powerful than saving it.

        One can always find ways to save, until their costs asymptotically approach zero, so saying they can save more is a truism.

        3 votes
        1. [20]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          The first statement is inaccurate, and the second doesn't follow even if the first was true. An extra $300 dollars in your bank account is the difference between replacing a bad alternator and...

          If they save, say, $150 more a month, and this is kept for unforseen costs, it won't make a difference with many of the potential crises they face; they will go bankrupt either way. They may as well spend some money now and enhance their well-being.

          The first statement is inaccurate, and the second doesn't follow even if the first was true. An extra $300 dollars in your bank account is the difference between replacing a bad alternator and having your car out of service, costing you your job. $150 dollars a month is 1800 a year, over the course of 20 years, with a modest interest rate of 6%, that's $63,299.79, college tuition for a kid, or a pretty nice dent in retirement costs. That enhances you or your kid's well being a lot more than eating out at a restaurant four times a month.

          3 votes
          1. [15]
            Akir
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            That is quite literally triple the greatest interest rate I have ever seen in a savings account in my lifetime. Edit: I decided to look up to see if there were any higher rates now that the...

            with a modest interest rate of 6%

            That is quite literally triple the greatest interest rate I have ever seen in a savings account in my lifetime.

            Edit: I decided to look up to see if there were any higher rates now that the economy has had more time to improve, and it turns out that there is at least one bank willing to give out a 2.52% APY, but that is the highest rate I can find for US Savings accounts. This comparison site was useful.

            5 votes
            1. [6]
              Greg
              Link Parent
              Savings accounts are pretty much minimum return in exchange for maximum convenience and safety, though - they're a fairly bad place to keep money if you're looking for growth. After inflation,...

              Savings accounts are pretty much minimum return in exchange for maximum convenience and safety, though - they're a fairly bad place to keep money if you're looking for growth. After inflation, that 2.5% is more like 0.8%.

              A relatively conservative investment in bonds and index funds has historically managed to beat inflation by 5-6%.

              4 votes
              1. [4]
                Akir
                Link Parent
                Yes, but if we are talking about poor people, investment is out of the question. Investment is something you do after you've got stability. You need to have a good amount of regular income to have...

                Yes, but if we are talking about poor people, investment is out of the question. Investment is something you do after you've got stability. You need to have a good amount of regular income to have stability, and poor people are not going to have that. Savings accounts make much more sense for the working poor because there is no penalty to withdraw funds when emergencies happen.

                6 votes
                1. Greg
                  Link Parent
                  I agree with you there - as far as I'm concerned, "poor" means by definition you're not going to have the means to consistently drop in $150/month and leave it there untouched for 20 years. I was...

                  I agree with you there - as far as I'm concerned, "poor" means by definition you're not going to have the means to consistently drop in $150/month and leave it there untouched for 20 years. I was just saying that in the hypothetical we're discussing, the interest rate isn't the problem.

                  6 votes
                2. [2]
                  MimicSquid
                  Link Parent
                  Also, Investment is something you do when you're not in debt. No consumer debt is going to be as low interest rate as you can make in stocks or bonds.

                  Also, Investment is something you do when you're not in debt. No consumer debt is going to be as low interest rate as you can make in stocks or bonds.

                  4 votes
                  1. NaraVara
                    Link Parent
                    Subsidized student loans can be. Also some car dealerships do financing deals with APRs that are basically free money. It's ridiculous.

                    No consumer debt is going to be as low interest rate as you can make in stocks or bonds.

                    Subsidized student loans can be. Also some car dealerships do financing deals with APRs that are basically free money. It's ridiculous.

                    1 vote
              2. ubergeek
                Link Parent
                You do know most brokers wont see you these days unless you have 5000 in hand, right? Even CDs these days require a minimum of 1000USD to open.

                You do know most brokers wont see you these days unless you have 5000 in hand, right?

                Even CDs these days require a minimum of 1000USD to open.

                1 vote
            2. [8]
              papasquat
              Link Parent
              If you're saving for something long term, a savings account is not the way to go. 6% is a reasonable target for a well diversified index fund over the course of 20 years.

              If you're saving for something long term, a savings account is not the way to go. 6% is a reasonable target for a well diversified index fund over the course of 20 years.

              1. [7]
                Akir
                Link Parent
                I brought up savings account interest rates because that's the best you can hope for if you are poor. I elaborated on a later reply to someone else, but to reiterate, you need to have economic...

                I brought up savings account interest rates because that's the best you can hope for if you are poor. I elaborated on a later reply to someone else, but to reiterate, you need to have economic stability first before you can invest money because there are penalties if you want to withdraw invested funds, if you can at all.

                5 votes
                1. [6]
                  papasquat
                  Link Parent
                  After a reasonable cushion in your savings fund, maybe 1500 bucks, you shouldn't need to dip into an investment account often. Besides that, many ETFs have no fees for trades. Penalties are only...

                  After a reasonable cushion in your savings fund, maybe 1500 bucks, you shouldn't need to dip into an investment account often. Besides that, many ETFs have no fees for trades. Penalties are only really relevant for IRAs or 401ks.

                  1. Micycle_the_Bichael
                    Link Parent
                    If you have over $1000 in savings, you're not poor.

                    If you have over $1000 in savings, you're not poor.

                    6 votes
                  2. [4]
                    Akir
                    Link Parent
                    Yes, but if you have $1500 in liquid assets after your necessities are paid, are you really poor anymore?

                    Yes, but if you have $1500 in liquid assets after your necessities are paid, are you really poor anymore?

                    3 votes
                    1. [3]
                      papasquat
                      Link Parent
                      No, but I'd argue that someone that's able to spend $150 going out to eat every month also isn't poor.

                      No, but I'd argue that someone that's able to spend $150 going out to eat every month also isn't poor.

                      1. Akir
                        Link Parent
                        I'd say you are being harsh, but I'd rather assume that we're going through different assumptions about this hypothetical. If we're talking about an individual, $150 extra is probably fair enough....

                        I'd say you are being harsh, but I'd rather assume that we're going through different assumptions about this hypothetical. If we're talking about an individual, $150 extra is probably fair enough. But as soon as we start adding people, $150 quickly disappears. But the question that is perhaps more important to ask is if that extra $150 constitutes the entire 'expendible' portion of the budget or not.

                        Before I continue, I just wanted to specify that by "going out", I'm not using it specifically to refer to fancier sit-down restaurants like the video is. I'm including that, but also counting fast food and prepared meals (sandwiches, pizza, etc).

                        I think the gulf between us is that you may be seeing that $150 as only going towards food costs. In reality, going out provides two benefits that home-cooked meals do not. Benefit number one is that it helps buy back time, since in our case it usually means getting something quick and convenient, and it also skips prep and cleanup. It's reason number one because it provides a tangible economic benefit

                        The second reason is the one that is most important to poor people; going out provides psychological benefits. It is, as you say, a luxury. It makes you feel good and it can even be entertaining. Physiologically, you get a dopamine boost from any meal, and the lack of cleanup helps you make the most of it.

                        There is also a third benefit, in that many restaurants now provide free wifi. A visit to the restaurant can also have an economic benefit if one were to choose to take advantage of the free internet and small amount of extra time.

                        And let me be the first one to say that you can't live life without luxuries. Luxuries are life's coping mechanisms. Luxuries are how people give themselves ego boosts. Without them, depression sets in. A college fund in 20 years isn't worth anything if the kid you're saving it for doesn't make it because they thought their life was worthless.

                        7 votes
                      2. cfabbro
                        Link Parent
                        Isn't there a pretty well established connection between poverty and fast/processed food consumption though? It's been quite a while since I read anything on that subject, so that could be...

                        Isn't there a pretty well established connection between poverty and fast/processed food consumption though? It's been quite a while since I read anything on that subject, so that could be outdated information by this point; I'm genuinely not sure.

                        1 vote
          2. [4]
            SantalBlush
            Link Parent
            That is making a whole lot of assumptions, which is my point. You describe a rather ideal set of circumstances for this outcome to hold, which is often far from the reality of a poor person....

            That is making a whole lot of assumptions, which is my point. You describe a rather ideal set of circumstances for this outcome to hold, which is often far from the reality of a poor person. Saving $150 is easier and more beneficial for a middle class person when considering the risks.

            Suppose you're able to fix your alternator. Then what? You get to carry on miserably this way for 20 years because your discretionary income goes into savings rather than things you would enjoy. Maybe in eight years you can buy a new low-end car. Eight years is too long for that to matter. And if (and when) a crisis comes that exceeds the balance of your savings, you are back to zero. Your savings did not help you, and you did not enjoy the reward of your labor because you saved it. This is the difficult trade-off that poor people face. I'm aware of the arguments you make, but they are simplistic.

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              papasquat
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              You're not considering the alternative. In this situation, the alternative would be losing your job and being homeless. Carrying on "miserably" for 20 years with a roof over your head is...

              Suppose you're able to fix your alternator. Then what? You get to carry on miserably this way for 20 years because your discretionary income goes into savings rather than things you would enjoy.

              You're not considering the alternative. In this situation, the alternative would be losing your job and being homeless. Carrying on "miserably" for 20 years with a roof over your head is preferable to most people than living on the streets in a virtually inescapable cycle of poverty.

              edit: Also, I'm not the one who described these ideal set of circumstances. You did. You asked what difference would $150 dollars a month make, and I answered: a lot. If you're not spending a significant amount of your money each month on eating out, than the discussion about cutting that expense is irrelevant, and if you are, you have the means to potentially improve your life significantly by lowering that expense.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                SantalBlush
                Link Parent
                More realistically, I think the alternative would be that they borrow money, either from a friend or from a payday advance, and possibly get locked into debt. At any rate, what I'm trying to say...

                More realistically, I think the alternative would be that they borrow money, either from a friend or from a payday advance, and possibly get locked into debt.

                At any rate, what I'm trying to say is that one can't compute the value of savings without taking into account its expected value; i.e., the end value of the savings times one's perceived probability of it reaching that value vs losing it, similar to the way other forms of investment are computed. The notion that saving $150 for 20 years would necessarily yield $63,299.79 would assume zero risk of unforeseen costs, and these costs seem to happen all the time when one is poor. On the other hand, if they do not keep much savings, it limits their downside in the case of, say, a huge medical bill that won't be recovered. I think poor people incorporate that perception into their pricing of a 20-years savings, driving down its expected value in their mind, using their own personal heuristics. Saving money increases their potential gain, but it also increases their potential loss.

                I hope wasn't too unclear expressing my opinion there. Anyway, I've said my piece. Maybe others can weigh in.

                3 votes
                1. papasquat
                  Link Parent
                  I understand the point you're trying to make now. I sort of understand the mindset, that being in debt is preferable to having nothing at all. I think that may be a failing of general financial...

                  I understand the point you're trying to make now. I sort of understand the mindset, that being in debt is preferable to having nothing at all. I think that may be a failing of general financial education society wide. I agree with you, I think the mindset that having cash laying around is somehow a liability is common. Hell, I've even heard my boss, a guy who most likely makes north of a quarter million dollars a year say things like "Spend it when you've got it because times aren't always great."

                  Maybe it's just a general human instinct. Rich people can afford to have that fallacy much better than poor people can though.

                  4 votes
      4. [2]
        MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        See, you're doing it too. "It's not the fault of those big fixed costs, it's your fault for engaging in eating, an extravagant luxury." It's those big and ever growing fixed costs that need...

        See, you're doing it too. "It's not the fault of those big fixed costs, it's your fault for engaging in eating, an extravagant luxury." It's those big and ever growing fixed costs that need resolution.

        1 vote
        1. papasquat
          Link Parent
          You're choosing to interpret what I said in not only the most uncharitable way possible, but also choosing to believe I said the exact opposite of what I did.

          You're choosing to interpret what I said in not only the most uncharitable way possible, but also choosing to believe I said the exact opposite of what I did.

          Rising healthcare costs, education costs, and housing costs are the primary factors for economic burden on individuals

          6 votes
      5. cadadr
        Link Parent
        How? How come it is luxury, let alone extravagant?

        [eating out is] an extravagant luxury,

        How? How come it is luxury, let alone extravagant?

        1 vote
      6. ubergeek
        Link Parent
        Hm... I wonder why those people with no stoves and just a hot plate in their studios keep choosing to dine out, rather than in?

        Hm... I wonder why those people with no stoves and just a hot plate in their studios keep choosing to dine out, rather than in?

  2. [13]
    Rocket_Man
    Link
    Some of the responses here make me wonder if this kind of topic is hard to discuss due to Tildes demographic. How many people on tildes have actually been in poverty and haven't had access to a...

    Some of the responses here make me wonder if this kind of topic is hard to discuss due to Tildes demographic. How many people on tildes have actually been in poverty and haven't had access to a moderately well run high school. I also don't fit this demographics, but I think people would be surprised how inefficient some peoples spending habits can be due to their lack of financial literacy and exposure to ideas around planning.

    20 votes
    1. [11]
      krg
      Link Parent
      Yea! On top of that, I wonder about this production's idea of "poor." Poor people aren't fuckin dining out (in the sense this video is portraying). Lower-middle-class people and up are dining out....

      Yea! On top of that, I wonder about this production's idea of "poor." Poor people aren't fuckin dining out (in the sense this video is portraying). Lower-middle-class people and up are dining out. Poor people aren't worried about opening a savings account, they're worried about catching up on the rent.

      They didn't touch on fast food. The dollar menu from McDonald's offers a lot of value for the money because they can buy in bulk and leverage their buying power to save even more so that even when they markup a burger it still works out to costing less than a burger you could make at home.

      15 votes
      1. [2]
        Micycle_the_Bichael
        Link Parent
        Yeah all I really gained from this video and comments section is that people don't know what being poor is. Being poor is your birthday present from your family taking you to Applebee's, which in...

        Yeah all I really gained from this video and comments section is that people don't know what being poor is. Being poor is your birthday present from your family taking you to Applebee's, which in your mind is the pinnacle of luxury, and being allowed to order a soda instead of just a water and getting your own meal instead of splitting it with your sibling. Its nothing like what this video suggests.

        8 votes
        1. krg
          Link Parent
          I grew up with a working single mother in low-income housing and going to McDonald's every so often was, in my experience, "dining out." My mother cooked nearly everyday. Occasionally we'd go to...

          I grew up with a working single mother in low-income housing and going to McDonald's every so often was, in my experience, "dining out." My mother cooked nearly everyday. Occasionally we'd go to Denny's after church on Sundays (which was the only part of church I really enjoyed) and that felt like fancy dining, to me. Ordering from a menu and being waited on..whew..made me kinda giddy, as a kid.

          Anyway, I still wouldn't classify us as poor. My mom made it a point of pride to never rely on food-stamps and we weren't wanting for much. But, I was a kid, so I never really analyzed our situation and kinda merrily lived my life. I'm sure my mom at least felt poor.

          2 votes
      2. [5]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        To be fair, I don't think that this video was focusing on poor people. I feel that the costs they gave for the average price of a single diner going out is not only too high, it's insanely higher...

        To be fair, I don't think that this video was focusing on poor people.

        I feel that the costs they gave for the average price of a single diner going out is not only too high, it's insanely higher than it should be; they must only be considering fine dining. Of all the times I've gone out to eat - and that's specifically not including fast food dinners - it is extremely rare that my bill goes over $20. Perhaps the issue is that these people are purchasing extremely overpriced alcoholic drinks with their meals, but with all of my people-watching I have noticed the majority of people go without them, and among those who do it's mostly people ordering the least expensive spirit on the menu - beer.

        And to be completely honest, you have to be blind to not notice how much money you are spending on dining out if you really were spending that much money. Its your own damn fault if you can't understand that the $70 you just spent on this meal for two doesn't match the value of the ~$100 you spend on an entire week's worth of groceries.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          krg
          Link Parent
          They certainly fooled me with the title, then. I think the experience of being poor is constantly trying to catch up, but never quite making it. Anyone who wants to peak into that experience ought...

          They certainly fooled me with the title, then. I think the experience of being poor is constantly trying to catch up, but never quite making it. Anyone who wants to peak into that experience ought to read Evicted. It's devastating.

          2 votes
          1. Akir
            Link Parent
            Oh yes, the title was certainly poorly written (pun not intended). I will second the book recomendation even though I haven't personally read it. The author also teamed up with WNYC's On The Media...

            Oh yes, the title was certainly poorly written (pun not intended).

            I will second the book recomendation even though I haven't personally read it. The author also teamed up with WNYC's On The Media to work on a four-part special called The Scarlet E, for those who would prefer the podcast format.

        2. [2]
          Octofox
          Link Parent
          The prices seem pretty close to what I have seen. A typical night at the pub for me with some friends ends up at $22 AUD for a chicken schnitzel and $10 for 1 beer.

          The prices seem pretty close to what I have seen. A typical night at the pub for me with some friends ends up at $22 AUD for a chicken schnitzel and $10 for 1 beer.

          1. Akir
            Link Parent
            I just checked the conversion; your $32 AUD is $22.01 USD. $35 USD is more than $50 AUD. That's quite a difference.

            I just checked the conversion; your $32 AUD is $22.01 USD. $35 USD is more than $50 AUD. That's quite a difference.

            2 votes
      3. [3]
        Octofox
        Link Parent
        Poor is a relative term. To some it means on the verge of homelessness and to others it means unable to afford a deposit on a home loan. The video is obviously refers to the latter group who are...

        Poor is a relative term. To some it means on the verge of homelessness and to others it means unable to afford a deposit on a home loan. The video is obviously refers to the latter group who are the ones who can afford to eat out at fancy places at the cost of their long term financial success.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          krg
          Link Parent
          Except that countries define what being poor is, so it's not that relative. E.g., the United States' definition.

          Except that countries define what being poor is, so it's not that relative. E.g., the United States' definition.

          1 vote
          1. vivaria
            Link Parent
            Isn't this a prescriptivism vs. descriptivism sort of thing? What the "true" definition is doesn't matter as much if people are interpreting the word in different ways depending on their...

            Isn't this a prescriptivism vs. descriptivism sort of thing? What the "true" definition is doesn't matter as much if people are interpreting the word in different ways depending on their experiences. To me, that was what @Octofox seemed to be suggesting, anyway.

            1 vote
    2. FZeroRacer
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I've lived in some fairly deep poverty before. A lot of people tend to not understand the financial and time constraints poverty puts on your family. My family didn't really have the ability to...

      I've lived in some fairly deep poverty before. A lot of people tend to not understand the financial and time constraints poverty puts on your family.

      My family didn't really have the ability to buy food in bulk and often our trips to the grocery store simply couldn't be efficient enough for a family of three. We'd generally eat one actual meal a day using a pound of ground beef and some other staples split among three people. The beef alone cost around $3-$4 in addition to the other items we'd have to buy. At that point going to McDonald's and ordering food off their dollar menu was about as efficient if not moreso.

      We'd get around $200 a month from food stamps to feed everyone which, needless to say, is sort of a tight budget especially when your parents are not very well educated in terms of making that money go the full distance. When I started getting my own benefits in college it made things quite a bit easier as I could afford to eat a lot more (for reference, I got around $190. For a single person and not a family of three). But we'd usually run out of money rather quickly, which meant we'd resort to eating out using funds from SSI to either buy food or eat out, which usually wasn't much since most of those funds went to pay rent, power etc. We also got gouged on bills badly because we couldn't afford to move or challenge it. We paid around $200 a month in power bills despite doing nothing to necessitate it, for example.

      It doesn't help that they are incredibly computer illiterate and I think a lot of people take for granted their ability to search for and optimize the deals they can find to save money on groceries. There's a lot of little things that people tend to just not understand unless you've lived in that sort of state before.

      8 votes
  3. synergy
    Link
    I just came back from visiting Japan, speaking to many locals I met they all told me produce is so expensive and the price of eating out is so low that in many cases eating out is cheaper and/or...

    I just came back from visiting Japan, speaking to many locals I met they all told me produce is so expensive and the price of eating out is so low that in many cases eating out is cheaper and/or you break even and you don't have to spend time cooking with the crazy hours they work and small kitchens they have in Tokyo especially. Walking into a grocery store I was pretty astounded by the prices of vegetables and fruits.

    10 votes
  4. kfwyre
    Link
    This video is sensible financial advice that's unfortunately marred by a terrible clickbait title. After watching it, it's clear that the video is using "poor" to mean "deprived of extra money"...

    This video is sensible financial advice that's unfortunately marred by a terrible clickbait title. After watching it, it's clear that the video is using "poor" to mean "deprived of extra money" rather than "in poverty" given that the person they use for an example has an annual income of $75,000. The ideas in the video are valuable to consider and will work for someone in that situation, but they are far from relevant to people with more limited financial situations--especially those in poverty.

    10 votes
  5. HoolaBoola
    (edited )
    Link
    The video kept talking about averages. The average household spent more than $3000 a year on dining out etc. That doesn't mean most people do that. Instead, I'd wager the wealthier half eats out...

    The video kept talking about averages. The average household spent more than $3000 a year on dining out etc. That doesn't mean most people do that. Instead, I'd wager the wealthier half eats out much more than the poorer half and thus distorts the average heavily. Or if not much more, then much more expensively (McD vs a fancy restaurant)

    Also, for some people eating out is the only choice. With super tight schedules and low salary, many poor people can only afford to eat at McDonald's, as decent ingredients to make at home often cost a lot more and people working 2-3 jobs just to be able to afford to live leaves absolutely no time at all to cook.

    This just feels like one of those posts telling people to invest in stocks to get rich. Sure, you have a decent chance at getting wealthier by buying shares, but that requires thousands of dollars to start with, and time. The people those jabs are directed at don't really have the choice to do so.

    Despite its faults, though, the video does raise the point that many people eat out often, and spend loads of money which could be spent elsewhere. While I don't for a second believe anyone would become rich, or even non-poor (if you were poor to begin with), from stopping eating out, it is true people should be careful about where they spend their money.

    Edit:
    Here's a link to a documentary I recently saw — really shows you why people eat out and how they have no other choice, really.
    https://youtu.be/cAtYkQh_NqI

    8 votes
  6. Deimos
    Link
    Okay, I'm tired of this thread. It's just all bickering.

    Okay, I'm tired of this thread. It's just all bickering.

    6 votes
  7. citizenerased
    Link
    The strength of our economy is based on what we do with each of our units of currency. If we spend money on cheap factory processed products from huge supermarkets which ship the profits abroad/to...

    The strength of our economy is based on what we do with each of our units of currency. If we spend money on cheap factory processed products from huge supermarkets which ship the profits abroad/to the capital, our local economy and community will reflect that - a cheap, processed, poor community which delegates all power and responsibility elsewhere.

    If we spend our money in the local community, trust local experts to cook us food, and socialise and build relationships through doing so, we will live in a stronger, more responsible community where money is kept within, not shipped out (theoretically).

    This is coming from a well-run, educated city, where I am happy to spend my money in locally run places, knowing that it's keeping the cogs of the local economy turning.

    It saddens me, however, if people are manipulated and mafia-ed into wasting their money in McDonalds/Walmart or some other big corporate shitfest. Through advertising/manipulation and unfair business practises, it's such a shame that some communities have no choice but to do that.

    I loved how, in Cairo or Istanbul, for example, there were street side places for eating absolutely everywhere, and it felt like, at times, just dropping into your own extended dining room to grab something quick to eat. Poorer communities in 'the West' would do well to adopt such ways of supporting each other, as opposed to just being mines for big business.

    2 votes
  8. ubergeek
    Link
    Of course! That pesky avocado toast strikes again!

    Of course! That pesky avocado toast strikes again!