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;
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.