Yesterday my sister called to see if we wanted to go for lunch at our favorite all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, and I paused for a second thinking about this frugal challenge. I ran the math in my head, looked at the boys, and told her "Absolutely! Let's go!"
(photo from a trip last year)
Even without the math, I probably still would have gone. Eating out is an important ritual for my family, and it's our only real luxury. We just don't buy fancy clothes, new books, music, or gadgets; the only thing we could really cut back on is eating out. Everything else we spend money on is pretty necessary; health insurance, bills, and groceries.
(Jack taking full advantage of all-you-can-eat)
With the math, it was even more appealing. Stewart could take the opportunity to work out and do a few things at home that he wanted to do, and Deborah and I would take the boys alone. With tax and a nice tip, my share of the bill would be $20, and they don't mind if the boys eat as much as they want. For three of us, that's a great deal and would fill us up for most of the day.
(Nate and Deborah on our last sushi trip)
We went, we ate, we had a great time.
Being frugal isn't the only goal in our lives. Somtimes we'll spend money that others would choose to save; for us, these are experiences we don't want to miss out on together. Walking that balance beam is hard, but necessary, and so far I think we're doing a pretty good job.
I'm curious to hear about other people's "non-frugal" choices. What are your luxuries? How do you walk that line between keeping the larger goal of a happy, healthy family in mind, while still working to be smart with your money?