The Cost of Having a Social Life: $200 and a High Tea Weekend

Four separate checks were brought to our table, with four separate pens with the elegant Neiman Marcus logo scripted on their sides in gold ink. Two hours of quality social interaction was ready to be swiped on my credit card bill for $44 plus tip.

The $44 wasn’t about to put me in debt, but the cost of my social weekend was adding up. Most of my weekends are spent hibernating in my apartment and being a couch potato, which is probably for the better, because once I get out I end up spending way too much money.

My expensive weekend started on Saturday night, when I had dinner with my aunt. We split a bottle of wine and each had an entree. The cost of that meal was split, and put a $50 something charge on my account.

The next morning, I drove to the city, and borrowed $20 from my aunt for a $6 bridge toll (which ended up costing me a lot more than $20 in repayment… I’ll explain in a minute.) I spent $12 on breakfast meeting with a friend, and then went to a coffee shop to get some work done and waste a few hours before another dinner with my aunt, along with my cousin and their friend. But a good friend saw a Facebook update of mine that mentioned I was in the city and called me with an invite to high tea at Neiman Marcus. A fan of tea, high tea, and friends, not to mention jealous of all the women who were at the coffee shop with their own Sex & the City cliques, I immediately accepted the invite, not thinking of the expense.

So I drove across the city and found a free spot on the street about a half mile from Union Square. I felt giddy on the walk down to the restaurant, excited for this random invite to high tea with my friend that I hadn’t seen in ages and two women who I hadn’t met yet.

The tea menu had three options, starting at $37. Then there were two more expensive options with champagne. I didn’t need champagne, but as the other women decided on it (the mid priced option) I figured we’d end up splitting the bill anyway, so I might as well indulge. And the entire experience was so worth it — the conversation, the tiny tea sandwiches (which I scarfed down despite not being hungry), the champagne, the delicious fruity black tea… and at that point my weekend had added up to about $110 for dinner, breakfast and lunch, not counting the cost of gas. And the women I had tea with weren’t about to spend that much on tea the next weekend — we all discussed making this a seasonal thing, with our next high tea at another restaurant tentatively scheduled for June.

After tea, I went straight to dinner at a sushi place. I wasn’t hungry at all at that point, but everyone decided it would be best to share a few rolls. They were really good, so I had some of the sushi, when I shouldn’t have even eaten anything more at that point. Dinner was enjoyable, and I was so happy to be having one great social experience after another… when normally I’m depressed due to being a hermit or nervous due to being in awkward large social experiences where I don’t know how to interact with people. That dinner, however, ended up costing me something like $70. My aunt brought up that I owe her $20… which I did… and I paid the bill plus tip, which came out to something around $84. She gave me $13 cash.

So my social life this weekend cost me $200. One thing I’ve been thinking is how much more money I would spend if I move to the city… not just on an apartment, but on all the things I will do (and eat.) At least living in the burbs makes it impossible for me to have the opportunities to spend a lot on being social… well, mostly because my friends all live in the city. But then… what’s life without these experiences? I’m making $90k a year and I feel guilty for spending money… I’ve become such a miser. And despite not exactly saving as much as I could, I’m also greatly limiting my life experiences right now so I may have enough money to live in retirement. It’s a major trade off.. and I’m starting to think a social life today… and my happiness today… may be more valuable than an extra couple thousand dollars down the road. What do you think? How much money do you spend on your social life?

6 thoughts on “The Cost of Having a Social Life: $200 and a High Tea Weekend

  1. I absolutely believe that a social life today is a high priority. Our friends, and the people with whom we socialize, give us meaning in life. So I don't hesistate to spend money to go out. It would be awful if I sacrificed friendships today, and spent that money on furniture or other "objects" in the future.

    That said, you can go out more cheaply (e.g. eating beforehand, so that instead of ordering dinner you just get an appetizer or just get a beer.) This way to get the social experience but can trim the costs.

  2. I'm amazed by how much high tea costs. So much money for such tiny sandwiches.

    I thought my social life would cost more when I moved to the city, but it was the exact opposite. I stopped paying for gas and parking to get to the city, and there's a lot more free activities than the burbs.

  3. I've been to high tea once at the Fairmont Empress. I think it was around $70 each, but it was totally worth it. What an experience! I'd love to go again, as the one and only time I've been was about 6 years ago.

    Also when moving from a mid-sized city to a big city, I also thought my expenses would go way up. Instead, they've probably stayed about the same. But I tend to blend my social activities into what I would do on a regular basis anyway, so that saves a lot of money. For example, I go with friends to the gym or to fitness classes, and I play field hockey on a team of really great girls.

  4. I don't really have much of a social life at all…my work schedule + the fact that my friends have decided to move WAY out into the far burbs while I'm closer to the city makes it hard to get together. And that's why I'm willing to spend a bit of money on socialising. I also am spending a bit more time with people from work, which also always involves spending a bit of money (drinks etc).

  5. I suspect that if you lived in the city, your expenses wouldn't be nearly so high on a regular basis. It's easy to justify $70 teas and eating out 3x a day when you never get into the city. When you live there, you wouldn't be paying the cost of bridge tolls, parking, driving, etc. You'd probably have a better knowledge of the less expensive but still nice places to eat. And you wouldn't feel like you needed to make a day in the city into a splurge. :)

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