Recently my wife and I dined out a few times. While no particular meal was expensive, the aggregate of the three meals equaled 2 weeks worth of groceries. I didn’t think about it too much at the time. Everything changed with an e-mail my wife received on Sunday. In her words, “The color drained from [her] face.”
The e-mail was from her friend from Spain. She is getting married and would like for us to join them in celebrating their union. The wedding is less than 45 days away.
I immediately went into shock. This couple came from Spain to our wedding. It seems only fair that we should go to their’s. Beyond what seems “fair”, my wife’s culture considers not going a huge slap in the face. Our situation is very different to the other couple’s for the following reasons:
- My wife’s friend is a flight attendant – This means that she flew to our wedding for free.
- We gave guests 10 months of notice – With the short notice, finding cheap hotels is difficult. There is a cheap flight, but that might be filled by the time we find cheap hotel.
- Our wedding was on the east coast – This may seem like small detail, but flying from California to Spain is different than flying from Spain to Boston
- The Dollar Hates Us – With the US dollar continuing it’s drop, it doesn’t go very far. On the other hand, the strong Euro created a situation where the couple could go to New York after our wedding and do some discount shopping
The last monkey wrench is that I don’t fully understand the friendship of my wife and this friend. This friend met my wife through a foreign exchange program 15 years ago. They stay in touch with an occasional e-mail. I don’t know how often, but I’d guess it’s a status update once every couple of months. And since the friend is a native speaker of Spanish, my wife used an online translator to make sure this e-mail said what she thought it did. In the past 10 years they’ve only met a few times in person. I don’t mean to make any judgments, but I have trouble comprehending how deep this friendship goes.
I did some of the math and the cost of this trip would exceed $1800 – for just lodging and air fare. With my income dropping drastically, that’s close to what I bring in for a month after taxes. I immediately thought about our dinners earlier this week and their expenses in addition to this potential one.
This has lead to some interesting discussions. While these discussions are still on-going, I am convinced they could completely change how we feel about money. Read the about those discussions here.