One of my sisters recently turned 18 and wanted to celebrate the event at a pricey restaurant. She’s been known to have expensive taste, so I wasn’t surprised when she picked a super fancy place to dine at.
I have two other sisters, so the four of us decided to go together and I volunteered to pay for my youngest sister’s meal because I knew she probably wouldn’t be able to afford it since she’s still a teen and doesn’t work much.
The place where we ate had all the bells and whistles. There was comfortable seating, exotic drinks with smoke coming out of them, food and decadent desserts that looked too beautiful to eat, and a candy store connected to the restaurant.
We all talked and laughed as we ordered drinks and appetizers.
The bill came out to be $300 after taxes, and a mandatory 20 percent tip was added to our bill.
I was a little surprised at the bill – it was the most I’d ever spent on a meal – but I pretty much expected it to be expensive. It didn't shock me, and I don’t regret it. You know why?
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It Was a Memorable Experience
I consider myself a pretty frugal person for the most part, but I also don’t mind spending money on experiences I value. Values vary from person to person.
Blowing that much money may sound outrageous to some people, but I enjoyed the night out with my sisters.
The restaurant’s specialty was fogging drinks made with dry ice. It cost about $25 for a non-alcoholic goblet and $33 for one with alcohol. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of trying an exotic fogging drink garnished with extra sweets and poured right at our table, so of course, I ordered one for the experience.
The candy store located by the restaurant entrance had a red carpet area where you could take photos (kind of over the top, I know) and it was a nice addition to the restaurant because it reminded me of an old-fashioned confectionary with every possible candy you could think of piled high all the way up to the ceiling.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever go to a restaurant like that again, so it was a nice one-time outing.
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Prepare Ahead of Time
While I don’t mind spending money on unique experiences, I also like to prepare my finances ahead of time so that I don’t have any regrets later. When my sister told me which restaurant she wanted to go to, I went to their website and researched their prices.
I looked at reviews online and called their location to confirm pricing for certain items on their menu that didn’t have a price listed. I also looked at the fine print on their website so that I knew all about the mandatory 20 percent gratuity charge for all tables.
Doing my research ahead of time allowed me to prepare my finances for the experience so that I wouldn’t be spending any of my bill or debt repayment money at the restaurant.
I also committed to bringing lunch to work for a week and ate all my other meals at home so that I could save for the splurge. That way, when the evening came, I could enjoy the ambiance and the company of my sisters without constantly making calculations in the back of my head for how much was I going to be out-of-pocket that night.
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Pay for What You Value Most
While I like to live on a budget and I enjoy spending less, I’m not discounting the chance to do something that doesn’t fit in with my money personality. After the wonderful time I had at my sister’s birthday, I will not fault someone else if they want or go on a European holiday or buy an expensive front-row ticket to a Broadway hit.
If that’s what you value most, and you’re not doing it on an impulse, then paying for it is worth it. Just make sure that you’ve planned ahead for the big spend so that only the good memories last – not the unpaid bills.