Reasonably Priced?

What is overpriced?

I say this because last night, we went out to dinner (which is a rarity for us) with some old friends from Ducks’ work — actually, the friend and his fiancee.

I just kind of wonder what overpriced is – and if the definition will change as we get older/out of law school. Some people I know who are around the same age as we are go out all. the. time and they get the full meal from appetizer to dessert, along with accompanying drinks and such.

That is so not us.

Last night, I thought the meal was fairly priced. Each of our entrees were in the $15-20 range, then the other couple bought the first bottle of wine and we bought the second. (We also got a free dessert because the waitress got part of the order wrong) That’s definitely more than we would usually spend, especially since law school started, but I didn’t think it was an out-of-control spending amount, since it’s probably the first time we’ve been out to dinner in 2011 (okay, we did go out to celebrate my promotion….I forgot about that). However, my husband thought that it was too much, and this morning, his statement was, “If I’m going to spend that much money, it should be on something I liked more than what I had last night” (he had trout).

So, the question is, what’s reasonable? I think, as a girl who grew up in a town where Dairy Queen was pretty much the only restaurant and the steak finger basket was $2.99, I probably will never get used to spending a ton of money on food when there are so many other things in the world that money could be better used for. However, when we are done with law school and **  knock on wood ** have more money, will I think $16 is nothing to pay for a meal and just order a $16 martini with a haughty, snooty-woman laugh?

Doubt it, but who knows?

Thinking about it after the fact, I do agree that we paid too much money for dinner last night, but you know why I think that? Relativity. When I’m at the grocery store trying to calculate buying a week’s worth of food for $40, it doesn’t make sense to spend that much on one meal, right?

Maybe it also depends on your hobbies. Our big hobby is going to sporting events, it seems. So discretionary money goes to that. I don’t get pedicures anymore. I don’t go shopping a lot. Maybe if you’re a true epicurean, then eating out and sampling delicious meals (which last night’s was…for me, at least) is your hobby and that’s where you spend your discretionary income.

Even if the bonus of catching up with some long-lost friends is included, it would have been a lot cheaper to make a similar meal at home and buy a couple of bottles of wine at Spec’s to go with it. Or, is the atmosphere and the not-cooking thing worth it?


(Oh, as a final note, I feel the need to express how much I LOVE the couple we hung out with last night. We had a wonderful time – I LOVE the fiancee. She and I have really truly clicked, which is amazing. The first time that we met, we sat down on the couch at their house and literally talked non-stop, almost without taking a breath for three hours. THREE HOURS. So, the hanging out time was definitely worthwhile.)

2 responses to “Reasonably Priced?

  1. I am so glad you had a good dinner out. Those are always the best.

    And I think that you’re right that it does depend. Law school means very minimal discretionary income for us. We really like going out for a good dinner at some great restaurant. One of the best meals we’ve ever gotten was going to a Russian place for my birthday once. But if we go out, we’ll try to keep it to about $20 — $30 absolute max (and that’s not even every weekend). So since we don’t have the budget for going out for full-blown dinners, we’ll just stick to fabulous cocktails, pick up dessert, get appetizers or small plates.

    Yes, the budget is way different in law school, but eventually it comes to an end and we’ll get to be a two-income family (for once) and actually go out for a full meal again.

  2. Totally agree. I really don’t like going out to expensive dinners, or really eating out a lot at all. I worked really hard to learn to cook well and make things that we both like, and we do spend a bit on groceries relative to other people in our financial situation. I think when we do spend money on going out for food, we try to get things that I couldn’t make at home (sushi is the big one here… I took a class on making it but I will just never feel comfortable that I am making raw fish safely).

    We’re also big sporting event people. We also like to take day trips to little colonial towns in Virginia. Once or twice in the summer we will see concerts, and we like to sit in really good seats and generally have a fun night. We are both big tech people and have nice phones/computers/iPad/iPods. Those things cost a good deal of $ relative to our overall budget. So we see fewer movies, I don’t really “shop” anymore, and we politely decline as many dinner/drinks offers as we can. We also cut back on things that we can do at home- we use the gym in our apartment complex or work out outside, don’t subscribe to cable (no time to watch tv anyway), make coffee at home in the morning, pack lunches, spend more time “in” on weekends. We just don’t go over our budget- we lived in DC for 6 months without a toaster because we always spent that money in our monthly budget on other things. It’s stupid, but when it came down to it, we just don’t exceed our allotted $ for any reason, even for something small.

    I think someday this will change in that we will eventually have more income (*knocks furiously on wood*) so it will be a bigger scale, but at that point there will be kids, who will need a lot of stuff and money for college, so I think it will always be about balancing needs with desires and choosing to spend money on what is most important to us.

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