Okay, I admit it – the title of this article was pure, unabashed click bait. The truth is there is nothing magical or strategic about our looming dinner on Saturday night. The company that I work for rewards certain employees every year who put in X number of billable hours with an additional bonus and a $150 dinner authorization.
And this year, I got that particular award. So, we go out to dinner (this Saturday), spend around $150 bucks, and we get reimbursed for 100% of the cost. It’s easy, and I feel somewhat shallow and dirty for using a title that’s pulling people into this article to learn practically nothing of value.
But hey, while I have you here, allow me to pose a question about these sorts of “paid for” expenses: Are they healthy?
No, I’m not talking about biological health (stay away from the red meat!?!). This question is about the mental aspect of purposely living above your means because somebody else is paying for it. In this case, it’s my company who is footing the bill.
Maybe there is some wisdom in not knowing what I’m missing. Perhaps my wife and I should eat reasonably this weekend and spend as we generally would. But then again, we would be missing out on value from the award, and that seems like a waste.
Don’t I deserve to spend a little extra on a nicer meal, at a nicer restaurant, because I worked so hard over the past year? Surely all those hours that I put into my soon-to-be-former full time job should get me some kind of tasty treat.
After all, if my company is willing to let me spend $150 for a meal, why the hell should we not?
What if we buy a bottle of wine, just because we can? Is this setting some kind of unrealistic expectation for what “nice” meals must include (for when WE are paying for the meal)? I mean, we sure as hell wouldn’t spend anywhere close to $150 if we were funding this meal. Even for a nicer meal, anything north of $50 would make me cringe these days.
I’ll be honest – part of me feels weird about spending $150 for our night out. It’s almost as if I’m convincing myself that this is okay. I worked hard over the past year and the company is rewarding that effort. This is all good, right? Stop overanalyzing and just enjoy it, yes?
I leave you with a question: Do you ever feel weird about spending other people’s money to live above your means? Of course, I’m not talking about maliciously taking advantage of someone or something in order to spend above your typical comfort zone. Assume everything is on the up-and-up. It’s all good in the neighborhood.
Even though you are justified in spending the money, would you feel weird?
P.S.: I’m totally having a cigar when we finish our meal, too. If we’re gonna live above our means, let’s do this shit right.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.