I Just Spent $3,000 in Three Weeks. Here’s How I’m Dealing With It.

I Just Spent $3,000 in Three Weeks. What I'm Doing About It.

Expensive things are happening at Chateau de Luxe. Let me count the ways: on November 2nd, at exactly 9am, my husband snagged us a coveted dinner reservation for $367. In late October, I bought two tickets to a money conference for $378. And if you’ve noticed I’ve been quiet on social media lately, it’s because I’ve been locking down logistics for my honeymoon, spending over $1,800 on lodging alone, plus over $500 on a car rental. There were so many large transactions at the same time, my credit card company kept pinging me, “Are you sure it was you who authorized this charge?”

Yes, credit card, it was me. I did it.

And let’s not forget the future expenses that go along with the above events:
I’ll need to pay an extra $800 on the hotel and plane tickets for the money conference, and also buy outdoor gear for our honeymoon. Because I guess hiking in Adidas NMD sneakers doesn’t cut it in New Zealand?


This $3,000 spending tornado happened in less than a month. A dinner with a stratospheric price tag, a money blogger going to a conference that costs money (how ironic), and a vacation to a far-flung place. Put it all together, and you might be thinking: “Wow, must be nice to be rich.”

I’ve thought that before.

In the intro of one of my earlier posts, I wrote about the seemingly endless display of wealth here in New York City. One example was logging onto Facebook and feeling a pang of jealousy at seeing my friends eating at Eleven Madison Park. Well, now it’s MY turn to be that friend, because I’ll be eating at that same place in a few weeks. Now I’M the one who’s displaying wealth that’s so out of touch for lots of people.

While I’ll never know how my Facebook friends can afford things, I’m an anonymous blogger with a unique opportunity. In a world where talking about money is taboo, I can try to set the record straight. Having money doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easier to spend. Some people really do spend a lot of money without a second thought…but I am not one of those people. I’m not going to lie–my husband and I make nice salaries, but if we spent without considering the consequences, well, our financial progress would be ruined.

And let’s not forget how easy it is to form judgments around other people’s spending. Look at the hundreds of comments on money diaries. People love to get mad about how other people spend their money. But what you rarely see, even in the money diaries, is the context–the decision making behind our choices.

You don’t see the trade offs.

The idea that every single purchase you make is an opportunity cost. If you buy a $25,000 car, that means you can’t use that money to travel the world for a year. If you buy a $4,000 engagement ring, it means you can’t use that money for the actual wedding itself. If you have a monthly cable package, it means you can’t use that money to buy a coffee every day.

Most of us can’t have it all. Well, at least, not all at once. In many cases, making trade offs is exactly how people afford the stuff they want.

I’m no exception. Today I wanted to walk through how I’m dealing with luxury purchases so our budget doesn’t get totally out of whack. Because you know I’m not just going to sit there and do nothing about it.

First up, the expensive dinner.

A Dinner for Two at Eleven Madison Park: $347

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In a few weeks my husband and I will be dining at Eleven Madison Park, which topped this year’s “World’s Best Restaurant” list. With a title like that, naturally there’s a price tag to match. Are you drinking coffee right now? If so, are you ready to spit it out? Because the 11-course tasting menu costs $295 per person. For both of us, plus tax, the total price was $647.

The cost was subsidized by a generous friend who gave us a $275 gift card as a wedding gift, earmarked specifically for this restaurant. Because you pay up front and don’t pay gratuity, the purchase is a done deal and our total out of pocket costs ended up being $347. Which is still a lot.

This transaction swiftly landed in Mint and triggered the appearance of the Red Bar of Hell.

Mint Restaurant Budget


I’m not a foodie on the regular, but I don’t mind spending money on a one-time dining experience that’s truly delightful and feels special.

What I’m Doing About It:

To keep our budget somewhat in line, my husband and I are reducing our regular restaurant visits through January. We’d rather trade 6 average dining experiences for 1 legendary one.

Two FinCon Tickets: $378

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If you’ve never heard of FinCon it’s basically like Anime Con or Comic Con, except it’s for money nerds. I missed this year’s conference because I used up all my vacation time for our honeymoon. But after reading my fellow bloggers’ recap posts, I got a serious case of FOMO. Once I saw tickets available for next year, I pulled the trigger at $189 per ticket (yes, my husband is coming as well!). Attending this conference would be an opportunity to network with other bloggers and gain some insights on how I can improve the site. To me, it’s a no brainer. Over a thousand people who like talking about money? YESSSS. Also, it’s taking place in Orlando next year, and I’ve never been to Disney World before, so obviously something needs to be done about that.

What I’m Doing About It:

FinCon was a one-off, unexpected expense that wasn’t part of the budget. My husband and I are what I’d call, “loose budgeters,” in that we set up a budget, but don’t live or die by it.

The first thing I did was buy the tickets right away to take advantage of early bird pricing. The later you wait, the higher the prices rise.

The hotel costs $159 per night, so the total would be about $600 or so. All in all, the total would be about $1,200 to attend this conference. I started looking at Airbnbs to see if there were cheaper options in the area, but they seem a bit far removed.

If worse comes to worse, I saw there is a Sheraton hotel a 15-minute drive away that I could redeem points for with my Starwood points.

But our biggest trade-off idea is simply swapping in this conference with a vacation from next year. Usually, we do about two trips a year, so next year we’d just do one. It’s that simple.

Two Weeks Worth of Lodging in New Zealand: $1,800

Next month, my husband and I will be exploring New Zealand’s South Island as our official “honeymoon.” Traveling across the world is already expensive, and doing so in premium classes is something I would never pay for out of pocket.

What I’m Doing About It:

I started looking at flights more than a year in advance, so the majority of our flights are covered by points–yay!

But there aren’t any hotel chains in New Zealand to use points on…

Anticipating high lodging costs, I had my husband sign up for the Capital One Venture card. I saw they were offering an elevated signup bonus. Usually, they offer 40k points after spending $3,000 within 3 months, but they upped it to 50k points. The 50k points equals about $560 that we can redeem as a statement credit for travel spending. We’ll use this to cover costs like taxis and hotel purchases.

I’ve also built up about $500 in cash back from my Discover It card I can redeem for a statement credit. I used my Discover card to buy $1,000 worth of Hotels.com and Airbnb gift cards from Amazon. Then I used those gift cards to book all the lodging. The reason? This quarter’s 5% cash back category is Amazon and Target, so I saw an opportunity to earn even more cash back on spending I’d be doing anyway.

With both credit card points, I’m planning on being able to shave off about $1,000 in travel costs.

And like I mentioned before, I’ll need gear for the trip: hiking boots, a warm jacket, and a waterproof jacket. I absolutely HATE buying clothes for vacation or for one-time use, so I’ve been trolling eBay for gently used North Face jackets and Merrell boots. If the purchase is a “necessary evil,” then I should try to get it as cheap as possible, right?

Final Thoughts

You never really know how someone else is able to afford things that seem out of reach. But the next time you see something expensive you want, think beyond just the price tag. What can you negotiate on, or compromise on to make it happen? Is there a way to make it cheaper? Can you trade something ordinary for the epic? Life is really about a bunch of trade offs. You have more choices than you think.

Would you spend over $600 for a dinner? If you’re a blogger, do the FinCon costs scare you away? Do you wonder how other people can afford vacations? What are the trade-offs you make in your own life to afford what you want?

Image: Unsplash

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  • Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at a place more than $100pp. I hope you really enjoy the experience!

    • My thought is, go big or go home. I’ve eaten at places that cost $100pp that were a total rip off, and some that aren’t. But what you’re really getting with a $300 price point is the service and charm, not just food alone.

  • I love how you described tradeoffs to get what you want. Most people don’t realize these behind-the-scenes stuff are going on.

    For example, the most expensive Michelin meals I ever had were paid for by clients (the tradeoff was being in a suit and talking shop instead of being off duty / hanging out with friends during the meal lol).

    And btw, as someone who’s in NZ right now, I see some light hikers in Adidas/Nikes. I think you can still swing it depending how extreme your hike’s going to be. My Uniqlo ultra light down jacket + pocketable parka are also serving me well. They’re not as high quality as North Face but they’re pretty good considering how much cheaper I got them for ($70 + $30 respectively). What also decided me on buying more budget options is that I won’t be using them enough in the long run, being from the tropics and all. Might be different for you though – your snowstorms over there get crazy!

    • Man, I’m jealous you get nice meals paid for by clients! Clearly, I’m in the wrong field…

      Thanks for the valuable info! You know, I live in NYC and I won’t even buy rain boots or snow boots. I just wear leather sneakers and layer up on socks. Now you’re convincing me that maybe I DON’T need the hikers. I was going to buy them because we were actually going hiking quite a lot, like, five times in two weeks, so I figured I’d reduce the likelihood of injury. How much would it suck to get hurt in a foreign country? BUT, the hikes we’re going on will be fairly casual day-hikes (no multi-day hikes or anything). What to do???

      I was thinking North Face because I thought they’d be easier to sell after the fact. I did see some jackets on eBay for around $30 or less, so didn’t see like a bad option!

      • Trawled the internets for you (and you know, cause I was curious) and seems sneakers/trainers are fine for short hikes on well-maintained routes (say, an hour long to less than a day) but hiking trainers / walking shoes (Columbia / Merrell Goretex) seem best with sneakers as a backup. The main reason to wear boots seems to be protecting from accidents on rough terrain and keeping water/dirt out of the shoe. This forum topic compares boots vs. walking shoes vs. trainers: https://tramper.nz/?view=topic&id=2405 And I got loads of help from http://herpackinglist.com (the NZ summer packing list).

        And lol, I work in sales! I find nice dinners are perks of that department.

        • Considering I’m only bringing a carry on, I don’t want to buy the hikers! You are the sweetest for doing Internet research for me–I’ll send you virtual cookies 🙂 Our hikes will be less than 5 hours roundtrip, so I think I may stick with the sneaks…

          • I just took a 3-hour hike yesterday on what they call “rough” terrain (including some rocky streams) with my Nike running sneakers on and the grip of my shoes was more than fine. Just have to be careful to put your weight on solid footing so you don’t meet accidents. That 2nd website I gave you was actually what convinced me to go in my sneaks. But like I said, I wasn’t planning to do any long hikes.

  • You had me a FinCon Tickets!!!! YAY!!!

    • You know I’m gonna be aggressive about meeting you there, right? Just a heads-up 😉

      • i will be walking around the entire conference with my arms wide open until they connect with The Luxe!

  • FinCon is in Orlando…I could bring the kids! haha…yea I’m not sure if I’ll be going since it’ll probably be during the school though it’s only kindergarten right?! We’ll see. Btw, JetBlue has a temporary 60,000 point bonus so that should cover 2 round trip tickets to Orlando with points to spare…and I’m a fan of JetBlue. I’ve read from other bloggers that it’s worth it to stay at the hotel where the conference is held as the best part is hanging out and networking with the other bloggers there. And NZ…I’ve heard it’s beautiful.

    • Yeah, these things are definitely hard working with kids’ schedules, so I can understand that. Although next time there’s a NYC PF meetup, just bring the kids! We can do it at a kid-friendly place, haha.

      I feel like the location in Orlando is kind of not that central, so even a 15-minute drive from another hotel could get old every day. Especially as you have to pay for parking, too. So, math needs to be done. I agree it’s so much easier to just say at the hotel where the conference is held. If I can just find a way to make it cheaper…I have several months to figure it out.

      Oooh, nice tip on the JetBlue card. I didn’t know they upped it to 60k, which makes it so much harder to resist…

  • alwaysconservative

    Hmm, thinking about the $4000 ring vs. spending that on the wedding. I’d take the ring any day. It is something I would wear for the rest of my life vs. the money put toward the event that lasted only one day.

    • That’s totally cool. The point is that I don’t think people think much about the trade offs when they are making decisions. Me, personally, I would have rather spent on the guest experience rather than a ring for myself.

  • Hey, at least you used the credit cards to get some return on spend!

    • Yeah, right? That is how the credit card game is played! Getting points on spending you’re already doing instead of making up reasons to spend. I also do have several months to figure out how to hack that hotel cost. See you at FinCon next year?

  • GYM

    Did teddy Luxband notice you check mint more often than usual? I know that when I buy more I tend to check it more compulsively lol.

    All jokes aside sounds like epic experiences! Please Instagram pics of the food at this restaurant!! Is it a Michelin restaurant?

    I have dropped $5000 pp on a trip before and haven’t regretted it :). Also sounds like you’re getting a lot of money back from points.

    Are there any sports consignment stores in NYC for the shoes/boots? You might want to make sure they are comfy if you’re hiking a lot. Blisters on a hike suck- but you can try and prevent it with duct tape on your sole, it works!

    • Teddy has learned that when his wife is checking Mint that a cross examination will surely follow. But yeah, when I buy more I tend to look to see what I can cut, transfer or negotiate. Instead of just living and dying the budget, I see how I can tweak it to make it work for me.

      Yeah, it’s 3 Michelin Stars. LOL, I’m already cringing at how obnoxious I will be on social media. But if you insist…My friend also told me she’ll hate me if I don’t post pics of the new business class on United.

      I don’t think I’ve ever spent $5k per trip (due to points), but if ppl can afford it, I don’t see the prob! But I do love to see how I can get things cheaper, because it’s like a puzzle that stimulates my brain. We are getting points back to actually fund the same trip, so that’s good. I absolutely hate spending money when I don’t get points!

      Not sure about sports consignment stores, but I see what you’re saying about making sure boots are comfortable. I’m now starting to think trainers are a much more practical choice for me. I also refuse to pack more than in a carry-on, so there’s that, too…

  • Debts to Riches

    I spoke to a couple who spent €2,000 on a single dinner once. I don’t have the stomach, or bank account, for that! Yours seems reasonable in comparison.

    I’d love to go to FinCon but I promised myself no major vacations until I’m debt free. I’m aiming to go in 2020 or maybe 2019!

    • Oh, wow, $2k would be way out of my price range, but I can see a spend like that for a truly once-in-a life time place. Like, maybe that restaurant in Jiro Dreams of Sushi. For my dinner, the price was a lot more palatable since we had the wedding gift. Otherwise, I doubt we’d actually pay the full price ourselves, just because we aren’t huge foodies.

      Well, you will be sorely missed at FinCon! But I’m not mad at you focusing on getting out of debt. But yeah, hope you will be lighting up dollar bills after you’re debt free!

  • Done by Forty

    I kind of love all the things you splurged on: a once in a lifetime restaurant meal, a fun financial conference (or so I hear) and a honeymoon.

    Spending on things that you value is no sign of failure: quite the opposite! Spend big on the things that are justified!

    • Thanks! I just wanted to show what happens when expenses come up that are NOT part of the budget. Do you just spend it and not have any consequences? Or do you find a way to make it work?

      I actually just asked my husband if we should look up restaurants in NZ, and he was like, “Nah, we’re not there for the food; we’re there for the scenery!” So yeah, it’s just reminding yourself of your priorities and spending accordingly.

  • Erin @ Reaching for FI

    I love everything about this, Luxe! I don’t know if I’d personally be able to spend that much at a restaurant (also I can’t afford it at the moment), but that’s the thing about money-we don’t all have to spend it the same way!

    Although spending for FinCon and NZ? Sign me up!

    • I wouldn’t be able to spend that much, either, unless I had the wedding gift! But I would rather spend that much for a place that has impeccable service and will personalize the experience, rather than $100 for just great food in tiny portions with no service.

      Will I see you at FinCon?

      • Erin @ Reaching for FI

        That’s a good point about the experience-I guess I’ve never been somewhere that’ll put that much effort into personalizing your meal so that’s not what I think of when I think of such an expensive meal. That would definitely make it more worth it!

        I hope so! I haven’t bought a ticket yet but I’m definitely planning on making it work somehow. Also I have a friend that lives in NYC so I’m sure I’ll make it up there for a weekend at some point. 🙂

        • If you come to NYC let me know in advance! We’ll plan a meetup around it 🙂

  • Sounds like you’re making plans for a lot of fun experiences! I’ve heard great things about Eleven Madison Park, more consistently than for any of the other super-fancy places in NYC, and even from some people who are otherwise very skeptical about fine dining. K and I do three really fancy dinners a year (We each gift the other a special meal for birthdays, and split costs on a special dinner for our anniversary), though never anything quite as fancy as EMP yet. I thought about EMP for our next anniversary in the next few months, but as we’re otherwise a bit spendy on eating out most of the time and well, I’m still deeper in my student loans and only recently went back to a private sector salary, it didn’t feel right for us at this time. We could certainly afford it (and I could cut spending a little in other categories to make it comfortable for me), but that much for a restaurant meal at this time may still cross my personal “too much money” threshold, of the kind you mentioned in your last post, at this time.

    It’s a good point you’re making about how all/most of people’s seemingly really big expenses involve trade offs. The average person in law (and I assume medicine or dentistry, as the other really big student loan professions) will be making a lot of trade offs for years and years to pay off their six-figure student loans while still moving on with their lives, particularly if they’re buying property or planning for kids.

    • Fun experiences, indeed! We actually don’t eat out at super fancy places much at all! I just checked, and the last time we went to a “nice” place it cost $70 pp (Lilia), and I found it overpriced. And there was another place in the West Village that made me seethe in rage. I can’t remember the name, but you had to order three dishes to count as a full meal. We left $100 poorer, and still hungry. Any way, what I’m trying to get it is that I’m happy to skip those mid-range places to save up for one of the best. And yeah, like you, $300 pp would be a “too much” price, so that the cost is being subsidized by a gift makes it all possible for me.

      I’m glad sites like yours exist because I think people often (like me) assume that lawyers, doctors and dentists end up making six-figureafter school, so can’t they knock out those student loans in a year or two? Clearly, it’s not that simple!

      • I think (though don’t know for sure) that doctors do have to do more of that complicated planning. It seems like it’s fairly common for their low-earning periods (residency, med school even) to coincide with having children, and I gather that they don’t start really earning until after residency and fellowships/they’re basically 30?

        For lawyers, I think it’s more feasible for more people to pay off their loans as fast as possible, though I think normally it may take at least 3 calendar years. I haven’t heard of anyone who took out almost the full amount (150k+) who was able to do it much faster than that, unless they were able to live with their parents for a while.

        • True, with the medical fields, there’s that residency period, so money can be tight, even after school. But hopefully after that, things can start to snowball! But of course, it all depends on lifestyle. It’s pretty common to spend a lot when you’re making a lot of money.

  • Eddie

    Hey Luxe, this post epitomizes the “niche” of your blog. Living a frugal life is an adventure in itself and getting to reap the rewards meticulously and lavishly makes life even more exciting !

    • Hey Eddie, funny I had the same thought if you read the newsletter! Yep, my true colors came out in this post, no doubt. It always bothered me that people assume you’re rich to have nice things, and it’s like, nope, being frugal can get you there, too!

      • Eddie

        Lol I totally read the newsletter after the post. I agree, my mates and I can be quite grungy but I like to treat myself here and there and they call me out for it. I remind them that I’m not the one getting ubers willy nilly and buying multiple $400 full-priced wet suits. Yes, like you, it makes my blood boil. Have a lovely Thanksgiving Luxe !

        • I know. Even when I made $11/hour I still bought $300 shoes. Meanwhile, I lived in a 2 bedroom apt with 2 guys (one lived in the living room to save money). It’s all about your priorities.

          You have a nice Thanksgiving, too, Eddie!

  • LOVE this post. Nailed it 100%, life is all about choices.

    Congrats on all the exciting things to look forward to! I DEFINITELY expect a full write up of that dinner… as a foodie I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of this place… but TBH I have not had any dining experiences (and I’ve had a LOT, some very swanky) that stick out enough to be worth a $300 price tag. >.< But if you say it's worth I'd look into it.

    And yes, even though my heart was breaking all throughout FinCon and for days afterwards (I legitimately refused to read a singe write-up post about it… #pouting) I can still not convince myself its worth it to go next year. "The year after that" I keep telling myself… maybe magically they will choose Raleigh and I can go! A girl can dream.

    • Thanks, BE! I’m on the fence about a full-on post about the dinner, but it will be on Instagram for sure. I’ve actually found that anything mid-range ($70-$80pp) in price hasn’t been worth it to me. At EMP, they do things like Google you beforehand so they can customize the experience, give you a tour of the kitchen, etc. So it’s more than just “good food”. I find that people forget that luxury is much more than a physical product. It’s supposed to a fun experience!

      I was hoping that FinCon would be on the East Coast this year, but I’ll make the best of Orlando. I’m actually excited about going to Disney, heh. I feel like FinCon is worth it to forge relationships with other bloggers. For that reason, I’m happy to figure out how to make it work in the budget. Do you ever do meetups where you live? I’ve found that’s a nice compromise, too. If there aren’t any meetups, then start one!

  • I still remember our anniversary dinner at Chez Panisse, though I can’t remember the price tag now. That broth! Absolute heaven. I do remember trying to calculate how many other things I could give up to trade for another one of those meals, though 😉

    Now that we have JuggerBaby rampaging around our lives, $600 meals are off the rotation but hey, if you make it happen in your budget, go you. We, unlike some of our rich surgeon friends, have to pick and choose the luxuries we enjoy like a home in the Bay Area vs some combination of 3 international vacations a year, nice new cars, a new wardrobe, sporting gear for both of us, a 2nd and 3rd dog for our pack, etc. That’s fine. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I can and do indulge so much that I can’t appreciate simple things like being wrapped up in a warm fuzzy blanket on a cold day or being able to sit up and do crafts with my kid, or giving Seamus a relaxed belly rub.

    Depending on how well I manage costs and income this year, and next, FinCon 18 is still a question mark. I bought my ticket but the combination of things I’d need to make that happen is a lot of effort and I can’t decide if it makes sense to bring all the energy to bear on it or not. It was awesome last year in San Diego and this year was fun too, but it might be growing too much for me to love it. So many people! 🙂 (Says the person who is fine going to SDCC with 200K people)

    • I love that you still remember your anniversary dinner experience! I mean, isn’t that what it’s all about? We had a pre-fixe meal in Paris two years ago that I still remember quite clearly: from having to read French to make the reservation, to how every dish looked impeccable, to the chef coming over to chat with us.

      I think part of my rush to do these things is to prepare for a different lifestyle if kids come into play. Obviously, it’s worth it, but you just have different priorities. I’m fully prepared for no more vacations once a baby arrives! I love your list of things you give up to have a home in SF. For me, I haven’t been able to justify buying in NYC quite yet, but I know I could make the trade-offs happen if I really put my mind to it. And agree about the simple pleasures. Sometimes I get so excited that I’m warm and cozy in my bed. That’s the beauty of limiting luxuries so that you can actually appreciate them.

      Yeah, I’ve run the numbers again, and with us wanting to go to Disney, costs have increased. However, I’m sure I will find a way to hack the cost even more. If not, we will simply just cut out one vacation. Total first world problem, I know. Anyway, would love to see you there! Although I can understand your reasonings for not making it.

  • Frugal Asian Finance

    Wow this is such a great post! The most Mr. FAF and I’ve spent on a dinner for ourselves was $60 I think, and I thought it was expensive! @_@

    Reading about how FOMO made you buy early bird tickets for FinCon caused me to develop FOMO. Ahhhh. I’m so tempted to just take out my credit card, but the cheap of me keeps saying no -> constant internal conflict. But my cheapness always wins ehhh.

    • Thanks, FAF! Hey, most of our dinners are $60, too! But we try to save up for nice experiences by cutting down on other things.

      You should definitely come to FinCon. I think a lot of ppl would love to meet you (including me!). Find a roommate to stay with at FinCon to split the cost. Pick up the Capital One Venture card to hack the hotel and flight cost. You should be able to shave off $560 in costs. DO IT.

  • I love eating out, but the most I’ve ever spent on a meal was about $300 for two people at Jardiniere in San Francisco. It was a lovely meal, but I find that I don’t enjoy really expensive meals because I think about how many much less expensive meals I could have for the same price! Maybe when I’ve built up a bit more wealth I’ll be okay with bigger food bills.

    • We actually don’t eat out that much, but for us, this is a one-time experience that won’t be repeated most likely. I have read how the whole experience is just delightful, and not simply just being served good food. For the price, it better be amazing! We will see! I actually find many mid-range restaurants to be a total rip-off. So, either go cheap or go big.

  • Dr. Curious

    My wife and I have dropped similar cash at The Ledbury on a recent trip to London. We could not pass up grandma’s babysitting offer. It was worth it.

    Have fun in NZ! Make sure to break in those boots before you go!

    • I love how you still seem to make the time and effort to enjoy life, even with kids. I think part of why I do the things I do now is because I think they will be too hard to do once kids arrive, so I’m trying to “live it up” while my life is less complicated. So I truly admire those who can figure out a way to do both!

      Thanks! I’m still on the fence about getting hiking boots, but we’ll see.

  • I really don’t think any of this is bad. Necessary evil or not, I would go crazy if I didn’t spoil myself once in a while. We don’t have any restaurants near us that’s fancy since I like greasy spoons (that is my nature I guess) so we never made a trip to somewhere expensive.

    My ex, Mr. Executive, had a longgggg hold on a reservation for us at French Laundry (I think?) but we broke up before the reservation haha. He said it was $1,000 a meal without wine – yikes. The most I’ve ever eaten was $60 just for myself and my husband said “let’s not do that often…”

    I found substitutes for sushi by buying sashimi grade or ahi tuna and making it myself. I just came back from the grocer with $18 worth of fish for donburi tonight. I was thinking about buying a wasabi plant so I can make myself some real wasabi.

    The plant is $12 on Amazon…that’s one reason I want to get rid of our rental. It’s too much hassle and I always think “oh this could go to the mortgage instead” when I should be thinking “you did well, can afford it, so go for it.” I’m essentially selling just to eat ^_^. Gotta free up some cash!!

    • Wow, what a bad time to break up with Mr. Executive.

      It sounds like you can really DIY a lot of gourmet experiences at home–that’s awesome! Can I come over now?

      But yeah, I totally agree that money is meant to be used, just as much as it’s meant to be saved. You just gotta find that balance.

  • Lynda

    I don’t think I could spend that much. I would constantly be calculating how much each bite cost. My sister is a chef and I’m so impressed by what she can whip up out of my fridge when I think I have nothing. That’s the kind of eating I like. I spurge on a good bottle of wine ($25-30) and the great conversation makes it a fun night staying in.

    • To each his own. My husband is a great chef as well. He can bust out restaurant-quality meals, imho, but dining out is of course, much more than eating food that tastes good. Although I agree that you can have amazing at-home meals spending much less.

  • I agree with you that there definitely a point of diminishing returns when it comes to food and clothing. But I don’t know too many restaurants that will give you a tour of the kitchen and maybe leave you a signed cookbook at your table if you mention you like cooking. As long as it’s not a regular expense, then I’m cool with it. Otherwise, we hardly eat out at “nice” places. Because again, I’d rather trade mediocre, unmemorable things for the epic.

    In terms of clothes, there’s a huge difference between a $50 pair of shoes and a $300 pair of shoes. You can’t make a pair of real, quality leather shoes for that cheap. It just can’t be done. But much higher than $300 and there’s little difference in price points.

  • Wow, that is an amazing piece, and it sounds like you had a perfect plan to purchase it: saved up for it specifically and reduced spending in other categories to make it happen. I also love that it has resale value. I find that anything physical that I buy HAS to have resale value, or it’s a no go.

    I actually want a Cartier watch (I wear a watch every day without fail, until mine died on me), and I’m trying to figure out a plan on how to get it. I could save up like you, but it will take quite some time!

    I’m glad you got points out of the purchase. Strategically spending (on weddings, big-ticket items, taxes, etc.) is super smart! It always makes me sad when I hear someone buying $5k worth of furniture, and not using that as an opportunity to earn points.

    Yes, I’m excited for the dinner! I hope they will give us a tour of the kitchen and I’ll get super dorky pics 🙂

  • Omg so exciting that you’re going to EMP! We were going to go for my husband’s 30th birthday but we decided to go to Montreal instead. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Have you seen Chef’s table, the Netflix show? If not, it’s so good! I think one-off amazing dining experiences are totally worth it but sometimes other things just outweigh it.

    I’m going to let me husband read this and see what we can tradeoff so we can finally get that RUMBA haha … if Santa was real…I’d want that for Christmas this year.

    Your planning game is so on point that I wish I had read this before I planned our trip to Bali–premium seats would have made the 20+ hr flying experience so much more pleasant.

    I’ve never been to Disney World or Disney Land either, I would definitely go to Harry Potter world though.

    I think spending consciously and making tradeoffs where you can is definitely the way to go–such a different way of thinking about money…where were you in my early 20s haha

    • Hey Sophie,

      Yes! I’ve seen Chef’s table, but I think the one I saw wasn’t particularly exciting, because I started falling asleep. I’ll have to give it another go. I’ll def let you know if I think EMP is worth it. I liked Lilia and all, but I don’t think it was worth a one-month wait, you know?

      I have to say that I have a high Reader Husband conversion rate. Lots of women have emailed me saying they showed my blog posts to their husbands to get them to change their ways. So, watch out, Vadim!

      Oh man, a premium seat for Bali would have been ESSENTIAL for me. Our flight from SF to NZ is about 12 hours, but still, my husband is a fussy sleeper, and I’d be much happier if he arrive well rested. Not to make my husband sound like a toddler or anything, ha! But yes, I’m almost just as excited about the flight as I am about the actuall sightseeing!

      I always felt like I was missing on some childhood experience not getting to go to Disney World. We didn’t go on any vacations when I was little, and I never knew what I was missing.

      Yes, making tradeoffs is exactly how you can afford all the fancy stuff! When you were in your early 20s I was still a mess, so…

  • Aw man, Eleven Madison Park has been on our wish-list whenever we go to New York. Unfortunately there’s like 20 places on that wish-list, so it’s matter of whatever we can get into. In a city with so many amazing options (likely with other incredible restaurants you also haven’t tried), what drew you to EMP?

    We have some relatives up in NYC area, and when we visit we’ll splurge on one or two meals while we’re up there. Last time was a tasty dinner at Momofuku Ko. We’ll hit up whatever unique places we can find regardless of location. Flying and staying in hotels on points (when possible), then eating at crazy expensive restaurants is our style.

    Speaking of luxuries and food. There’s this thing happening the same time at FinCon at Epcot called “Food and Wine” festival. It’s a fun way to see Disney, drink and explore.

    I booked my tickets (back to) Orlando next year. See you there!

    • Hey Adam,

      My husband and I have pretty “refined palates” but we don’t actually prioritize fine dining experiences all that much. We’ve been to Momofuku and Aldea here, but nothing really above that. The main reason is that there are sooo many tasty places that don’t cost that much. Plus, there are lots of places that I think are a total rip off, and we’ve been burned by them too many times. What drew us to EMP, was that it really seemed like a fun and charming experience that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Like, it’s not quite as serious as other fine dining places. It starts with how they Google you beforehand and try to find ways to personalize the experience for you. I’m also looking forward to a tour of the kitchen!

      I like your spending style. Save a ton, but also live it up. Just my speed! I’ll need to scope this Food and Wine festival! And I’ll look out for you at the next FinCon!

      Question: any tips on how to get Disney tickets for cheaper? I just looked at them last night and was not prepared to see that price…

      • Not really :/ The day passes at Disney are going to cost what they cost. There’s not really deals out there for cheaper passes that I’ve seen – other than potentially scammy ones. Sometimes people will buy a “5-day” pass, but only use 4 days of it, then resell the last day for cheap. Unfortunately there’s no good way to test to see if one of these passes really has anything on it, so buyer beware.

        • I actually listened to the Choose FI podcast where they talk about Disney. I guess there’s one retailer where you can buy the passes and it counts as ‘travel’. So that way you could use a travel rewards card like Barclays Arrival or Capital One Venture to get a statement credit on the passes.

  • PalePinkBeauty

    Have fun in New Zealand! You’re so right about the behind the scenes trade-offs! As a foodie, I eat like a peasant most of the time to occasionally eat like a king 😉

    • Sounds like you and I have the same spending philosophy! And thanks for the well wishes, I’m truly looking forward to NZ.

  • Wow Eleven Madison Park looks/sounds amazing!

    I think the important thing is to enjoy those special moments without the guilt. I personally don’t feel guilty splurging on special life experiences, but if I spent $600 on clothing or other material items (or if I spent even $300 at a mediocre restaurant), I would be racked with guilt.

  • Agree that hoarding just to hoard money is not the way to go–it’s about the balance.

    I was planning on getting TNF because they were pretty cheap on eBay and I saw some reselling opportunities. If I was looking to invest in activewear then I’d probably go with the other brands you suggested. But yeah, I always felt like TNF seemed very overrated and overpriced. $400 for a parka that’s made out of cheap materials and in a sweatshop?

    • Breamons

      As a native Oregonian who has a lot of rain/winter gear, I would buy a new Columbia Sportswear jacket and resell it, instead of a second-hand one. The rain repellent quality of a good coat (of whatever brand) can be ruined if it has been washed in a washing machine with detergent which deactivates the repellency of the waterproofing, making them big plastic sieves – which many do before selling it- and that can turn your experience outside from a dry toasty one – to a soggy miserable one. Once your outerlayer is permeable, whatever you wear under it can get soaked and you can lose heat fast- especially if you’re at elevation or in windy conditions.
      Columbia sportswear isn’t as well known and usually has good sales through the holidays. Eddie Bauer is another one that is good quality for a reasonable price. For resale though- Patagonia and TNF are king. Patagonia has kept its quality high over the years, while TNF has become more trendy…. so read reviews to see which would work best.
      If you have to go second hand- plan on buying gortex water re-repellant (which works 75% of the time), otherwise i would strongly advise buying a new one if possible.
      Boots are more lenient – easier to re-waterproof, you can break them in- , but coats can be ruined and there’s no way to tell online just by looking at them.
      Just a word of warning from someone who has been there!! Good luck and have a great time!

      • Hi! Thank you for such a helpful, informed comment! I didn’t think about the rain repellent getting compromised with a washing. If I end up buying used, then I’ll make sure to ask beforehand if the coat has been washed. I talked it over with my husband, and we agreed that our hikes won’t be super extensive, so I’m hoping we can get away with less hardcore digs 🙂

        I’ve been looking at Patagonia actually! I didn’t think of Columbia, but I’ll take a look. Boots–I might just give it a go in trainers. We live in a city, and very rarely go on super extensive hikes!

        Appreciate the advice!

  • Freddie

    Really inspiring post!! Your blog is one of the inspirations for the journey I am currently setting out on; 7 years to Financial Independence and to add some challenge to it I am living in one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world: Sweden. I started http://www.thefireviking.com after having read yours and gotten very intrigued by it, now setting a similar goal for myself.
    Thank you!

    • Hey Freddie,

      Good to hear that I may have inspired you in some way! I’ll def check out your site once you’ve got some content up!