Friday, December 30, 2011

Backdoor Mustachianism

I'll start off by saying that my girlfriend remains skeptical of Mustachianism. She doesn't view frugality as a virtue, more as a side-effect of being a cheapskate, I think. (Discussed this with her some more. She views frugality as being efficient with one's money.) One of my medium-term goals is to convert her to the cause. I'd like her to eventually believe that spending less money is a path to achieving her — and our — long-term goals.

As I was reviewing our food budget, I had an idea. Could it possibly be Mustachian to spend more money in the short term? If you recall, in November we instituted a grocery budget that's saving us hundreds of dollars per month. But there's another half of the food equation. I neglected to mention restaurant spending.

Let's look at both items together:
  • June
    • Restaurant - $145
    • Groceries - $684
    • Total - $829
  • July
    • Restaurant - $153
    • Groceries - $606
    • Total - $759
  • August
    • Restaurant - $665
    • Groceries - $628
    • Total - $1293
  • September
    • Restaurant - $132
    • Groceries - $807
    • Total - $939
  • October
    • Restaurant - $86
    • Groceries - $831
    • Total - $917
  • November
    • Restaurant - $0
    • Groceries - $372
    • Total - $372
What I interpret from these numbers is how little we used to go out to eat compared to the number of grocery trips we were making. The clear blip in restaurant spending is August, which contained restaurant week. Other than that we were going out maybe two or three times a month.

Aside from the numbers being high, here's what I think is really anti-Mustachian about the above spending distribution: our spending was massively inefficient. In terms of getting the most out of my money, I was failing spectacularly.

My girlfriend likes it when I take her out. It's one of those showing-that-I'm-thinking-of-her things. And until I get better at doing that without spending money, I think going out on dates is an okay arrangement.

Here's why November's restaurant spending was zero: my frugality kick was in full swing, and my girlfriend felt like we couldn't go out. She felt like, "Great, he's scrutinizing every purchase. Now I feel both restricted and poor." I'll tell you, for someone who isn't accustomed to squeezing every penny, and who has Mustachianism forced upon her — the above arrangement is not a recipe for domestic bliss.

So, I came up with a plan. Why not build a little good will and show her that, no, we aren't poor, just prioritizing our spending. Going forward, we'll have a food budget as follows: $300/month on groceries, $200/month restaurants. This is an increase in our typical restaurant spending. And by keeping this budget, we'll still spend $351 less per month than our June-October average of $851/month.

This is my idea for backdoor Mustachianism. By giving myself an explicit restaurant budget, we'll go out on more dates which will make my girlfriend happy. I'll be as cost-efficient as possible. In the future I'd like to get more creative with dates, find special things to do without spending money. It will take some getting used to, but I'd like to move toward an equilibrium where we spend little to no money on doing leisure activities together, while still maximizing our collective enjoyment.

Baby steps.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you can learn to cook for her. Talk about romantic!