Save. Spend. Splurge.

I have to remind myself $100 is still a lot of money.

This definitely sounds like a #FirstWorldProblem but does anyone feel that money is not as valuable as it used to be when you were younger or more in debt like I was?

Case in point:

I was out to dinner the other night with colleagues out of town. I decided to be generous, ask them what they are doing for dinner (I feel bad for out of townies because NO ONE takes you out after or hangs with you, and you are all alone at night working on your laptop in your hotel room).

Anyway, I took them out to dinner, picked my favourite restaurant that wasn’t too far from their hotel, and then we ordered to share.

I ordered whatever I wanted, and at the end of the night with the FULL INTENTION of paying for them, the bill came, and I reached over to give my card.

They looked at me, and said they couldn’t let me do that because it would seem like a gift where I am buying their loyalty or something (some corporate policy) and insisted we split the bill 3-ways.

I complied, and handed over the bill for them to look at, and it was $350 before tip and after taxes.

Their faces turned white, looked at each other and said: Holy crap. There is no way the company will pass this.

So I shrugged and I said — Listen, let me cover the bill. I asked you here, I picked the place, I came here fully intending to pay, and it is fine. 

They very gallantly decided they COULD NOT LET ME do that, so I said — Fine, what is your per diem? You pay it for what you can expense to the company, and I’ll cover the rest.

We settled on $80 for the both of them, and I picked up the tab for the rest.

They thanked me after, but they were still in shock at the bill.

What shocked ME about the bill was not the amount but that I was actually pretty cool about it.

I went there, EXPECTING to pay about that amount, and totally fine with covering their share too.

They however, saw that the amount they would have covered as a once in a year special event treat and not a business outing sort of deal and certainly not $100+ per person.

..and in that moment, I realized that I did not see $100 as a lot of money any longer.

How did this happen?

Remember when you were a child and $20 was a fortune?

I guarded any $20 bill I manage to change my coins into, like it was precious.

If I managed to upgrade to a $50 bill, I was in heaven.

Then, I started working.

I brought home about $5000 a month, and just like that, $100 did not seem like a lot of money.

And it sort of makes me very uneasy and ashamed to not feel like it is a lot of money.

I actually have to remind myself that $100 is still a lot of money.

The funny thing is that I KNOW THIS, and I FEEL IT!

I know this at a base level — how ridiculous am I that I will wait and penny pinch down to $2 off a turtleneck? — and yet, I go to the optometrist, and pay a $300 bill without a blink.

$100 changes in regards to expectation and context

Maybe the thing is that $100 when you are not expecting it, is a lot of money.

If you went to a dinner expecting $30, and you saw it for $100, your face would drop too!

Or maybe, $100 in the grand scheme of a $250,000 home is not a lot of money, but $100 when you are in a store buying $1 widgets is.

Perspective definitely comes into play here, but it isn’t the only thing because in my heart, I can see that I have changed, and it bothers / scares me a little.

I don’t think I am the only one feeling like this even taking into account my level of income, because I know people who earn less than I do, who easily drop $100 on an outing (once in a while, mind you), without really blinking.

Can they afford it? Probably… but maybe not.

And I wonder if social media, blogs, television and “reality” shows have a lot to do with this mindset, where we shift out brains into accepting that a $50 lipstick sounds reasonable, and $100 for some face cream is a ‘necessity’.

What say you? How have your money attitudes changed?

At what amount do you consider to be ‘a lot of money’?


  • Lauren

    Yes! I’ve said this several times to people. $100 is the equivalent of what $20 used to be when I was younger. Yes, it IS a lot of money, but it’s also a seemingly common amount to spend. I will spend $100 without a blink if the value is there (if it’s a large item like furniture, or something techy, etc). If it’s not there (or if I know I can get it cheaper), I have more personal issues with spending that $100.

  • Mia

    I worked for one company that didn’t have ANY cap whatsoever on meal expenses on the company accounts while we were entertaining certain clients our team had. As a result, I’ve eaten at some of the best restaurants in America. People also billed all sorts of ridiculous stuff while traveling, like absolutely massive room service bills and hotel bar tabs directly to the company. I knew someone in accounting and they said they could tell which employees were cheating on their spouses by the bills they got.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    $100 is absolutely a lot of money still.

    BUT now that we have more means, there are times and places where we would choose to spend that, and we have that choice to do so without it breaking us. That’s a big deal. Compare that to when we weren’t wealthy and if we HAD to pay $100? Whew, that would have been a blow.

    I wouldn’t spend that kind of money for dinner with colleagues out of pocket because our finances are too tight to spend $100 on a meal at that level just for colleagues, we have to reserve that for the few friends and family we see once or twice a year, so I’d have reacted the same way. But the fact is that in your budget, you can choose to absorb it and it’s great that you can. And if it was a nice meal, what a nice treat for your colleagues.

  • Federica Pisani

    You say colleagues but I assume that if they work for the company you are contracting for then they are your customers. On the other hand if they consider you a colleague and wanted to share as a staff meal and if what they said was “There is no way the company will pass this.” it sounds like the amount was much higher than what’s normally allowed by their company policy. It may have been higher than what they would normally pay themselves but what they said was different.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yes you are absolutely right — they were looking at the company policy, but I was looking at my own personal policy where I was OK to pass the entire amount under me. But they were also, later on, remarking how they would personally not spend that for themselves.. and were used to $5 sandwiches. I didn’t mention that part 🙂

  • Sense

    I wait to buy anything more than about $50 until I know I want it for sure or it is absolutely necessary (unless it is for rent, groceries, or utilities). I don’t order anything above ~$25 on a menu (and that is almost everything here in NZ, unless it is takeaways). PhD salary…

  • Financial Orchid

    I know how u feel when I sprung for my first 3 LV bags at the same time.

    What’s a $1000 bag x 3 when it’s like the same as 3 trips to California for a weekend lol

    But ya it’s definitely reference. If u normally spend $100 for a purse a $1000 bag is like 10x what you’d spend.

    If u normally keep meals around $20. A $200 meal feels like a feast right?

    But I think in this situation it’s the relationship of this meal n co-workers don’t normally spring that much for each other +corporate policies.

    Those types of meal expenses might normally be reserved for dating or family outings.

    I picked up some donuts for my team a few weeks back. It was only $20 but the boss was shocked I spent so much out of pocket.

    All reference.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      True – I didn’t see it like that. But I am also used to more expensive colleague lunches, I am used to going out with other colleagues who make around what I make, and I actually completely spaced that they don’t make as much as I do, which I WAS AWARE OF but I didn’t realize they would be so insistent on paying their share.

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