Thursday, January 04, 2007

Eating up my salary - and me being a party pooper

The first day at my new job, I went to lunch with some of the ladies, and I thought that was nice - they wanted to do something special and get out of the office so they could get to know me. However, it actually seems like they eat out every single day. Yesterday we went to an actual sit-down diner, and today we went back to the expensive cafeteria. (There are two cafeterias at the hospital - one is pretty low key, with sandwiches, soup, entrees of the day, salad bar, etc. I can usually get whatever I want for five bucks or less, including fries. The other one is actually several retail food shops, sort of like a mini food court - we have a Wall Street Deli, Mark Pi's, some Italian place that serves pasta and pizza, and a coffee bar/smoothies place.) No one has mentioned going to the regular cafeteria (although they have just as much variety, are somewhat closer, and are cheaper - and the ladies seemed to know an awful lot about the menu at Nick's Diner. (One of them had a fully punched buy-nine-get-tenth-free card, and said it was her second one. She's only been here a year and a half.)

So I am wondering what I should do. On the one hand, one of the ladies is basically going to be my mentor and I will be with her all the time, and I do like her so I don't want to miss out on lunching with her. Plus, I hardly know anyone else. And two, I don't really want to sit at my desk and eat like I did at my old job. That was very sad. But on the other hand, I don't want to drop six or seven dollars a day on lunch. Previously I usually brought in frozen dinners or Chunky soup, but there is no microwave at these locations (although there is in the cheaper cafeteria!) - so maybe I will start packing sandwiches or something that can be eaten cold? I gotta figure this out before I hemorrhage lunch money!! I've been paying for lunch with a $25 Visa gift card I got for Christmas from a family friend so I'm not hurting yet.

One thing that I think is interesting however is that my mentor lady was talking about how she's basically perennially on the edge of bankruptcy ever since adopting her children - the adoption cost $50,000 for both children, and they haven't had much extra money since. But, and this is a big but, she then went on to describe the lavish birthday parties she throws for them. Her kids just turned four, and she didn't do anything for their first birthdays, but each birthday since then they have each had a huge to-do with tents, decorations, full costumes for everyone, etc, to the tune of about $2,000 each. So two children, three birthdays each at $2,000, that's twelve thousand dollars! She also admitted to being a huge shopper - so between the shopping, the huge parties, and the eating out every day, I am not surprised she has money problems. On the way back from the diner I had to go to the bank and deposit some checks, since they are now open only while I am at work (as I am now working real hours) and my mentor lady asked jokingly if I was in the zero-money club too. I just kind of laughed and didn't say anything, I did not want to say that I was in there depositing six checks for a total of $2500, most of which came from CashDuck, and was going to my Roth IRA. I don't think they would have been laughing much after that.

Question for the rest of you - Do you feel like you are a big stick in the mud because you are financially responsible? How do you keep from raining on others' parades (even when that parade is running them into bankruptcy?)


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Gaming the Credit System said...

Hmm, this is a tough one. It can definitely be hard to be a stick in the mud. Your best bet is to lay the law down early. Let them all know that you really enjoy their company, but you're trying to be frugal (again, gloss over your financial situation or even make it seem like you're in a big pile o' debt) and simply can't afford to eat out every day.

But you don't want to cut yourself off from them too much; set a day of the week to go to lunch with them (just suck it up and buy your lunch once a week), and also make an effort on other days (maybe 1-2 days out of the week) to bring a sack lunch that you can take to the nice cafeteria or other places where it's not a problem (I don't think most restaurants take too kindly to sack lunches!). So, in summary:

-Once a week: Eat out with them
-Once or twice a week: Eat a sack lunch in the cafeteria with them
-Other days: Eat by yourself at your desk, and use e-mail.

I like your blog, and I'm going to check out CashDuck when I get the chance. :) said...

If it wasn't hard to save money nearly everyone would be rich!

I agree with gamining that the best compromise would be to arrange to eat out one day per week with your "mentor" - if you make it "1 on 1" you're more likely to benefit from this than just going out for a group lunch.

If there's somewhere suitable nearby you could also arrange for everyone to bring in lunch one day per week to have a "picnic" lunch in the fresh air (in good weather).

For the other three days a week just make your apologies and explain that saving your lunch money is part of your retirement plan. If you mention that "brown bagging" lunch will save you $21 per week ($1000 a year!) your co-workers are more likely to admire your financial savvy than consider you a stick in the mud.

BTW there's nothing wrong with being a "stick in the mud".

Kenric said...

I agree with the others. Got once a week with them... however, I'd say that you should go to lunch with them more often right now until you get to know them better. Maybe do 3 times a week now and then cut it down. You can always say that you have no money or you're on a diet. :)

ntbeachnc said...

I concur. I was lucky in that my last job, the cafeteria's eating area was a little separate from the food buying area, so a lot of us just brought our lunch every day, and those that did buy their lunch, went through the line and then joined us.

Would your job allow you to bring a microwave in that you kept in or near your work station? For the money you'd spend up-front, you'd earn it back over time and you'd have more options for what to bring in.

fdffgf said...

Hi Kira,
$2500 from cashduck? How long did this take you in terms of days/weeks/months and also hours of time put in? I did a search, but didn't find any posts directly regarding cashduck. I'd like to give it a try, but I'm skeptical about anything that sounds/seems gimmicky.


Ms. MiniDucky said...

Yikes, this is exactly why I blog financial - it can be difficult to talk financial without somehow offending others. I'm happy that I'm fiscally responsible but a lot of times I simply say I'm poor/not rich so that's why I do what I do. Whoever I'm talking to doesn't need to know that I'm on my way OUT of the poorness and that I'm determined never to be in the zero-money club. I figure that if they too are responsible then they'll understand my habits. If they're not, well, everyone can agree that being poor is not good and means having no money to spend, right?

As for the lunch thing, if you don't mind cold lunches then I'm sure you're fine just packing lunch and eating with them in the nicer cafeteria. Who knows, maybe the comment that you're trying to keep the spending down will make it seem more ok for the other ladies to consider bringing lunch occasionally! You could start another trend.

Anonymous said...

Cash Duck is definitely not gimmicky. I've been a member of the site since October 13th and I've made $600-700 so far. Pretty much you just fill out surveys with your information and they pay you money to do it once they get confirmation that you successfully did the offer correctly. You can also do trial offers (which require a credit card) but they pay out soooo much better.

Anyways, I don't think it is a bad thing to be a stick in the mud. If you don't, then you are just going to end up like those ladies. Not everyone can afford luxuries and eating out is a definite luxury. Save your money and be smart, but go out to lunch every once in a while with them!


P.S - I love reading your blog.

Cash Money Brother said...

My mom told me that if I brought lunch to work instead of eating out, I'd have a house after 20 years. It's pretty much true, the $5 to $10 adds up over time.

This guy
actually has a calculator that does all the calculations between bring and buying lunch over time. Then applies interest to the amount, so you can see what you would be saving.

Love your blog, Happy New year.

In For a Penny said...

I feel like that sometimes, as I'm in college living in the dorm, and a lot of my friends would rather go out to eat or order in at night as opposed to going down to the cafeteria to eat. Going to the cafeteria takes less effort than going out! And it's "cheaper" since I've already paid for the meal, and I pay for it whether or not I eat it.

I don't have any suggestions, but I look forward to reading the ones other people have posted.

HC said...

If you get a decent insulated lunch sack and some gel packs, you should be able to keep things cool at your desk, although a fridge/freezer would be better. And you should have NO qualms about using the microwave in the cafeteria. It's there for your use.

Other than that, I agree with the suggestions above. One lunch a week won't kill your budget, and then you can make use of the cafeteria on other days.

Kira said...

I think I am going to be bringing sandwiches and cold items and leaving them in my desk - I ate half a leftover sandwich from yesterday at my desk today as one lady is not there on Fridays and one was out doing something and it was lonely. =( What I've noticed one of the ladies doing is bringing a sandwich and then getting a salad or some soup to go with it, which is $1.50 or so and that seems like a pretty good deal.

As for CashDuck, remember that I am the owner, not a user. =) But I did actually make about $2000 in about a month using similar sites back when I was a user. I've paid out some pretty fat checks despite my site not having as many offers as others (since I have limits on the cost of the offers, etc.)

Kira said...

Oh, and I do have a full kitchen available to me at work - we just hadn't been eating in our work space. So I can take cold things with me, but I don't have microwave access unless we are at "home".

D said...

I have encountered this problem. Not because I was wiser with money, but because I had none and corporate workers all loved to eat out.

So, I started slowly, picked 1 out of the group and suggested

that money was tight for me and in order to cut exenses - why not have a theme day and eat in. This particular gal, took it to everyone else and they loved it. We would have Pasta Salad Days, or Mexican Days, etc. Everyone made something different and we had like a buffett.

Once this took on, I pushed farther. Taking one day a week for sandwiches. What was amazing, others needed to scale back, but weren't pushing it. When I took the lead, many joined in.

We then began a savings competition. I of course, used my dollars saved to pay off debt. Which, I believe most did. But one guy did "save" the money.

My point is, you can help yourself and maybe others if they are receptive. Don't want to lead, find the one in the group with the power and put a bug (or duck in your case) in her ear.

MoneyDummy said...

Maybe Mr. MoneyDummy and I were a little odd. We were just ourselves, and if people thought we were "weird" about money, which they do, that was okay. (Of course, I should add that Mr. MoneyDummy can get away with being "weird" because he constantly has people in his office laughing hysterically.)

In a way, I kind of enjoy our reputation as tightwads and smart money folk. It felt really good when my parents sat us down and said that they'd selected us as the beneficiaries in case of their deaths. They told us what they wanted done with their money, and said they'd chosen us because they were confident that both our financial ethics and our financial sense would ensure that we did what they wanted us to do.

MoneyDummy said...


And how's that working out with tax time? Are taking deductions for the money you paid out for the trials, or are you being taxed on the entire PAYOUT amount?

Kira said...

Um.. this is part of the reason that I have not previously stated anything about how much I make off CashDuck. If anyone has questions they can email me but I don't want to spend all my time on this blog telling people about how my business works.

MoneyDummy said...

Gotcha. I may e-mail you with some of the tax questions. Hope the question wasn't too intrusive or nosy! *Grin*

Karen said...

Kira, I hope you don't mind if I put my two cents in. You are facing a situation that is quite common. By not just going along with the crowd, you are showing great leadership qualities. I would guess that many in the group don't want or can't afford to eat out like that everyday but are afraid to speak up. I agree with the recommendations that suggest you try the once a week route. You might also suggest that you want to eat elsewhere or a packed lunch because you are watching what you eat and just don't always want to be eating hugh lunches. Without revealing your financial situation, you could start talking about the benefits of saving money on lunch and using it for other things. You don't need to preach, just show that this is an interest of yours. You might find that some of the ladies might be very interested and appreciate that you brought it up. Keep fighting (in a nice way) the peer pressure and you are well on your way to becoming financially independent!

Anonymous said...
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WH said...

I've found that telling my meal partners that I'm watching my spending makes them more conscious/considerate of where we eat out. This is esp. true at work, where I'm usually the youngest, and I never get the impression that they think I'm a stick in the mud. Please post a follow-up to let us know how it turns out!

Anonymous said...

try using your lunch hour for something else. it's much easier to play off the brown bag lunch if it comes along with a regular commitment to, for instance, exercise 3 days a week. Spend 15 minutes with sandwich, 45 minutes walking. You might find another from your group who would want to walk with you, and so you would still get in the face time with your co-workers without breaking the bank.

I run errands one day a week on my lunch hour, and two days a week when necessary.

Eating out with your co-workers can be the cost of doing business sometimes though, so don't count it out as money lost. Try thinking of it as in investment in your career.