How we’re going out for a $150 dinner and not spending a dime

Published September 17, 2015   Posted in Having some fun

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.

WineAnd 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.

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12 responses to “How we’re going out for a $150 dinner and not spending a dime”

  1. Damn you, click bait! 😉 This is a great question, and one that hits close to home, because I travel a ton and have a lot of my meals and “city time” paid for. Though I am for sure the odd employee out in often staying in hotel rooms with a kitchen and expensing groceries instead of restaurant meals, I also for sure go out for meals that i wouldn’t be stoked to pay for if it was us paying for it! I also take cabs some of the time when I travel for work instead of mass transit or walking, and stay at nicer hotels than we’d be willing to pay for out of pocket. I don’t think of any of this as “above our means,” because it’s part of the job, and I expense less per trip than our company average. And we know this way of operating has an expiration date! So for now it’s just a perk that comes with a grueling job. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Touche – “it’s a perk that comes with a grueling job”, that’s a very nice way of putting it. I am really, really curious what you do for a living, so as soon as you guys retire and are okay with revealing more of who you guys are, expect a question or two coming from my direction! 🙂

      • All will be revealed then! Suffice to say that we are both consultants — which means dealing with our own companies’ BS and clients’ BS, lots of travel, and a million, overlapping, unrealistic deadlines!

        • Steve says:

          Regarding being a consultant, I feel your pain. As an IT consultant myself, there are a variety of B.S. layers that we have the distinct honor of wading through as we try to actually get our jobs done. 🙂

  2. Well your click bait worked ya jerk 🙂 I feel that I eat out enough when traveling for work that I don’t feel that need to go out to restaurants on my own dime. It’s definitely a nice bonus because sometimes I think “I could really go for a nice steak” and then a week later I’m traveling for work and that’s paid for. Because I can tell you one thing – I would never stay in the Ritz or buy expensive bottles of wine and huge slabs of meat on my personal credit card. Enjoy it while you can! And you better not fall a penny below that $150.

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Yeah, we won’t fall under that amount, even if that means I give an extra big tip to round out the bill to $150, exactly. But yeah, I generally agree with your sentiment – enjoy it while it lasts, cause it most definitely won’t! 🙂

  3. No reason to feel bad. I take advantage of every business lunch or dinner we go to and particularly enjoy it when sports tickets come our way.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Adam – I’ve never gotten sports tickets, but have been invited to attend a golf tournament a couple years ago. That was a pretty cool experience. 🙂

  4. Mr. SSC says:

    Gah!! Click bait, lol
    I totally take advantage of employer covered meals and more. Back in LA we got company tickets to events and had behind the bench seats for basketball, some football tickets, and even Mardis Gras balcony passes. Anytime I get to go out on the companies dime I’m down for it. However, like our next life, when we traveled for work pre-kids as a couple, we also did the grocery route and cooked in at times.
    Enjoy and congrats on earning the meal!

  5. Stockbeard says:

    I got totally clickbaited too! Oh well, you’re actually fine because the article turns out to raise a very interesting question.

    I think you could categorize it the same way as other perks from your company, including healthcare, discounts on gym membership, etc…

    Which ones will you *need* once you leave the job? That’s the math you need to do. For the other ones, enjoy them while they’re free, and just make sure to not get addicted to them. But really, the worst thing you could do is forget to include one of these perks into your ER calculation.

    Healthcare is pretty obvious, but I for one had totally forgotten to include my compulsory contributions to the national retirement funds (in Japan). Those were taken from my paycheck when I worked there, invisible to me. I later on learned that I have to pay those even though I don’t plan to actually receive any national pension when I retire. I thought I could get “out of the game” just by saying “I don’t want any national benefit, so I won’t pay the contributions” (yeah, very naive of me, of course)

    • Steve says:

      That sounds a lot like Social Security. I would absolutely LOVE the ability to opt-out of the system, but our political class naturally resists that because they rightly believe MOST PEOPLE WOULD. It’s a bad deal, and I could have made much, much more money over the years by handing my retirement myself.

      Once Social Security time rolls around, it’ll just be icing on the cake for us. 🙂

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