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’.