Are Americans finally getting smart about eating out?

The latest numbers from the restaurant industry suggest that Americans aren't eating out as much. One research company says that dinner traffic fell by 2% in 2007. It seems that most restaurant chains are reporting declines in traffic.

Ruby Tuesday reports almost an 11% drop in same store sales for the fourth quarter. Starbucks is planning to close 100 under-performing stores. McDonald's reports almost no growth in same-store sales last year.

Maybe American are finally "getting it" when it comes to eating out. Quite simply, eating at restaurants is expensive, easily costing three to four times more than eating at home. And maybe even more importantly, much of the food at restaurants is not nutritious. Constant dining out can wreak havoc on our insides.

With everyone complaining about how poor the economy is, I'm actually glad to see Americans eating out less often. It's not good for the restaurant industry, but it's a wonderful thing for family budgets and healthy eating!

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.