I May Have A Problem With Food

The other day I got an email from a guy I met on Reddit whose blog involves Tracking Happiness and the relationship between money and happiness. I like this idea because it comes from a unique angle in an this otherwise repetitious field of ours.

Anyway, the email involved me submitting some niche content for a macro post concerning the question;

Can Money Buy Happiness?

I thought of this post below and thought with some tweaking, it would fit into the overall skeleton of the macro post.

Any good Budgeteer will make periodic attempts at analyzing the Budget to determine problem areas.

Mine was not hard to find and I had suspected it was there long before I ever made my first Budget. I like to eat out, like alot.

In terms of weighing the scales between money wasted and happiness acquired, I determined I am OK with this expenditure.

I live in the MidWest where overeating is still considered HEROIC.

One of the many reasons I fell in love with my wife is that she can put food away and quite simply, I was impressed. Two co-dependent people each with their own unhealthy relationship with food makes for a lot of restaurant nights.

In terms of numbers, I mean low end years of $6,000 in ‘take out/dining out‘ and bad years when it was all four us (2 kids) where we crested $10,000 annually. Now before you Mustachians go throwing up a little in your mouths, hear me out.

Some of this money is made up by lower grocery bills. (weak argument) Some of this money spent is explained by eating out with work colleagues, building relationships to make our work lives more enjoyable. (still pretty weak) Some of it is because we choose to both work, making more family income, at the expense of having less time to actually make dinner at home. (still an excuse)

BUT mostly it is because I LIKE IT!

I like to be waited on, I like eating better food than I can make, I like the four of us eating together and not having to make 4 different meals (the other 3 are picky eaters). I like eating ethnic food. To my eternal shame, I am not a good cook. Besides, My Mommy said I could go to restaurants if I want to. I am a grown ass man and if I want to blow money on restaurants, I can.

To sum up, mostly it is an alternate therapy bill. I derive both pleasure and relaxation out of the ritual of dining out. I look forward to my weekend plans of eating out with friends. On a micro level, I look forward to lunch everyday as part of my workday. My nuclear family has developed a culture of dining out at least once if not more per week. We like it this way.

Sort of an island of contentment is a sea of despair.

On a related side note, one Budget expense that frugal people always attack is Housekeeping/Cleaning Service. Why pay someone good money to do a job that is not that hard and one that you have a vested interest in doing the job well? But, I am OK with the Housekeeping expense, it gives me back my weekends. My time is worth the $85 biweekly charge to not have to use my precious down time scrubbing my floors.

Another Bonus is that I am hardly ever as disappointed by the food at a restaurant as I am from time to time with the food at home. (photo on Left, I almost cried.)

I also look at it like a tax on being fiscally irresponsible. I am redistributing my wealth to the service industry.

Giving back to the community in which I eat.

I would not dare to criticize someone who considers this an egregious leak in the budget; it Objectively is.

But Subjectively, it is not a waste of money but simply an expense I would gladly pay. These delineations about where and when to drop some cash are personal decisions.

Each person must make their own calculations about the value TO THEM of any potential expense.

I wrote another article about the different times I have consciously spent big bucks and have no regrets. I suspect there are common themes on anybody else’s list, but to each his own in the never ending pursuit of happiness.

Thank for for reading this and don’t forget to tip you servers. (20% please).

P.S. Lest I get ostracized by my fellow Frugalitarians, I have not paid for a haircut since 1990. I use clippers and shave my head. At $15 a haircut every 2 weeks for 27 years, I have saved a Hair over $ 10,000.

19 thoughts on “I May Have A Problem With Food

  1. Love it! I too love to eat out as long as it is food I wouldn’t normally cook at home. I consider myself a decent cook, but high end dishes, with lots of exotic ingredients and skills are best left for the professionals! I love a good view, a busy place with lots of people watching or interesting food. It is part of our entertainment budget as much as it is dining.
    I can make a taco as good as taco bell, so I might as well make them at home, but when it comes to egg benedict, lets go out.

  2. I always splurge when I go to visit my godkids who live an hour away. Their mom and I have been best friends for almost a decade now and she knows I like to get naughty with food spending when I come visit.

    This week she took me to a Mexican restaurant that had one of those food challenges. It was a five pound burrito that cost $23. I didn’t get the free t-shirt and four pounds of it came home with me in multiple boxes. It took four sittings to completely polish it off.

    I regret nothing.

  3. We all have something we spend money on that others would probably disagree with, if eating out is yours then more power to you. While I could preach about the money, I’m more inclined to preach about the health aspect. But since it’s your blog I’ll spare you. 🙂

    Big yes to the 20% tipping!

  4. Eating out up until recently was my biggest budget buster and I reworked other areas of my budget so that I could have that luxury. I love not having to think about making a meal everyone will like, I love not having to spend the few hours I have between work and bed cooking, I love that someone else does the dishes. And I love food. There is no shame in spending money on something that increases the quality of your life-as long as you balance the cost with the cost of other areas.

  5. I adore food. I live for food. But living in the SF area, we really can’t afford to eat the way we want to (vast quantities) and still have a roof over our heads. We chose poorly 😉 I’ve learned to cook pretty well, at least for our taste, and we save the eating out for more special occasions. But all bets are off when we travel – food is the entire reason we travel!

    My question: do you tip 20% before or after tax? People always seem divided on this.

  6. We had the same issue. We love to go out and try new cuisines! We have started cooking in more often to increase our saving rate. We’re pushing 75% and at times even 80% so I am pretty stoked about that. Thanks for following my blog!

  7. Just found your blog and I adore it! Currently reading it end to end.

    My food spending can be a bit much (okay, maybe concerning is more apt), but food is delicious and I can afford it. I like to cook, but even then the extra little bit to buy quality ingredients or to get new creative dish ideas from the professionals is usually worth it.

  8. Just stumbled across this. I really should go through all your previous blog posts one after another! Some day soon.

    Most of our expenses is on food. And we do get someone to clean our home for us once in two weeks. For now, I don’t see either of this going away…

  9. I like this post, as I agree with you.

    If you find joy in eating out, then do it. No question. The only issue is when you start to take if granted. Just try to remember and keep telling yourself how fortunate you are to be able to do this, and you’re totally good.

    As for housekeeping. Also agree here. It’s about alternative cost. If you don’t enjoy cleaning (like I), go for it. One should only save the money which is wasted. The money that actually gives us more time or happiness (preferably long term) is always money spent well.

    • Well said. I often come back to the fact that we, in the modern world, eat like the KINGS of times past. Perspective is a valuable tool. The other time this notion hits me is in the 3rd minute of a very hot shower, what luxuries we have and take for granted.

Let's get things nice and sparkling clear