I’m constantly thinking about how to cut back on bills, how to save more at the grocery store, minimizing my monthly commuting costs, etc. The list of things one can save money on is as long as the list of things one spends money on.
Dining out, however, has yet to fall victim to budget cuts in our family, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a source of entertainment, where Mrs. Benjamins and I might enjoy an evening out without the kids, either alone or with friends. Sometimes we get home and don’t feel like cooking, deciding instead that all four of us should pile in the car and let someone else make our dinner.
And on some (luckily somewhat rare) occasions, we enjoy the experience of fine dining.
Happy Anniversary to Us
Our anniversary is this week, so we decided to celebrate with an evening in New York City, dining at Chef Eric Ripert’s amazing establishment Le Bernadin. There are a mere 13 3-star Michelin rated restaurants, with Le Bernadin being one of them. Often in the conversation of one of the top restaurants in the world, it’s been on Mrs Benjamins bucket list for some time.
Reservations are not easy. Neither is stomaching the bill.
We splurged and went all out, knowing this was not an everyday opportunity for us. We got the full tasting menu, added the wine pairing, had a pre-meal cocktail and a post-meal coffee. I don’t think there was a section of the menu we didn’t order from.
How much did it all cost? $863 + tip. That’s right, one dinner for two came to over $1,000. Wowzers.
I’ve never spent anywhere near that much for one dinner, and likely never will again.
We choose to spend money on experiences, traveling, etc. and of course dining out. One could certainly argue that no dinner is worth that kind of money, but it’s an experience that we’ll remember long after the food has been ingested and digested.
What do Americans spend on dining?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the average American household spent $3,154 on restaurant meals and takeout. We’re certainly doing our part to drive those average numbers upward every year, having spent more than 3x that in 2017.
That includes dinners out, some fast food, the occasional work lunch, etc. Would I like to save and invest some of that? Of course I would, but it’s something we have decided to spend our money on, enjoying life right now.
Always look on the bright side
If you look around the blogosphere long enough, you’ll see a bunch of similar articles , “Your Car Costs You One Million Dollars,” or “How Your Avocado Toast Keeps You From Retirement,” or everyone’s favorite “Stop Your Daily Starbucks and Retire By 30”.
I could write the same article and give you some math about what this $1,000 could turn into in five, ten, twenty years down the road, but who wants to read that again?
Instead, I’m going to tell you all about what that $1,000 can turn into right now. Who wants to wait five, ten or twenty years?
I’m a big fan of using credit card rewards to your advantage. If you’re going to spend money, you might as well get something back for it. I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve card because it gives me 3x points on dining and travel and that it gives me flexibility in how to redeem my points.
What can I get in exchange for Mrs Benjamins and I’s fancy dinner? Let me count the ways! $1,000 on dinner = 3,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. Here’s what you can do with them:
- Cash them in for $30 cash (snooooooze).
- Transfer to Southwest Airlines and buy a one way ticket from DC to Columbus, OH
- Shop at Amazon.com and buy a Pup-A-Razzi Silver Screen Scarlet Dog Costume
- Transfer to Hyatt and upgrade your standard room to a Regency/Grand Club room
- Rent a full size auto from Alamo for one day in Duluth, MN through the Chase travel portal
- Transfer to United Airlines and use 60 miles per gallon for $0.50 per gallon savings
- Transfer to Virgin Atlantic and subsequently donate them to WE.
With cash back and gift cards always an option, the possibilities on how you spend your points are virtually endless!
How would you spend 3,000 new found Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?