It’s a warm, breezy Saturday afternoon, so I took a trip to one of the nearby pizza joints for lunch. It had been several years since I had gone there, so I had forgotten that it was more of a sit-down restaurant than a grab-a-slice-and-go restaurant.
I’ve set myself a monthly food budget of $200. I have a separate budget for food with friends, but since I have a pretty terrible track record with my grocery and person food money, I decided I could shoot for $50 per week. I’m sure more frugal people can do much better than that, but you have to crawl before you can walk, and I just need to get that food budget under control.
My first thought was to get the old special, a slice with some breadsticks and a drink. But when they sat me down and gave me a menu, I was tempted by all sorts of delicious meals, almost all of which cost more. I don’t like dropping money on solo meals like this, unless I’m exploring new restaurants and don’t want the hassle of getting other people on board, so my waistline thanked me when I ordered the $5 special.
Then it hit me: this is going to cost more than $5 because I have to leave a tip! That was a real bummer because I was excited to get a small but delicious meal for cheap. “Well, at least the tip won’t be as much this way than with a larger meal,” I thought. Sure, but who wants to be the tool who leaves a $1 tip?
My waitress was actually very friendly, and made sure to refill my green tea. I thought about my job, and the inroads God gave me for software development, and how so much of this I could never have done on my own. I had several days at work this past week where I was between projects and was basically being paid to study. And what I make in one day is a lot. So I thought of this waitress probably making minimum wage and hoping for decent tips, in this expensive city, while I spend a decent amount of time plotting my route to Financial Independence.
So I paid $10 and left the extra as a tip. There is a price to spending money on food, but what is the price of being cheap toward your fellow humans? I still have money left in my budget for the rest of this week.
This will probably be an ongoing theme on this blog, too. How can we, as Christians, pursue financial independence while still being rich toward God? Scaling back on my personal expenditures seems the best option, but scaling back on my giving is probably the wrong direction to take. One of these days I’d love to leave a $100 tip to a good waiter/waitress and make somebody’s day.