I recently signed up to be a mentor to recent college grads from my alma mater. While I’m happy to be paying it forward, I realized this would put a small damper on my savings project this week.
My new mentee just moved to Los Angeles and asked if I could give her any advice on how to get into the entertainment industry, which is the industry that I’ve been working in since I got my first internship in 2010. I was super eager to share with her what I wish someone told me when I was first starting out and invited her to our studio lot for lunch. I had already hit “sent” when I realized my perfectly laid out lunch plans for the week would be foiled. My partner had cooked healthy, delicious, and cheap meals to last us Sunday-Friday and I was so excited to not have to eat out once. However, I would now have to buy my lunch this day because it would be way too weird to bring my own lunch to a lunch meeting with someone I’ve never met before, right? And on top of it, it would be rude to not buy my new mentee lunch, right?
Before I break it down with my happiness/practical scale, I want to say that I kind of hate how torn I was for a moment after already inviting her to lunch. I don’t want to become that cheap person who never offers to pay for someone else or who always brings food to meetings/outings when other people are ordering food somewhere. But I also don’t want to constantly spend all my hard-earned money on food that I can definitely make cheaper myself. However, I think this situation had a clear choice. Here were my thoughts:
Happiness: I like meeting new people, especially those who went to the same college as me, so I was excited to meet up with my mentee. I also really enjoy talking to recent grads so I can tell them about where I went wrong (and I guess a few areas where I went right) when I first graduated. And of course, I like helping people out when I’m able to. My mentee is unemployed right now so it would feel good to treat her to lunch. So, happiness is probably 9 out of 10.
Practical: The lunch meeting would be on our studio lot, which is definitely the most practical place to have lunch. Firstly, I don’t have to drive anywhere, so it’s convenient for me. Secondly, it would give me an opportunity to show her around the lot and get an idea of what it would be like to work here. And thirdly, it’s A LOT cheaper than any other place I could take someone for lunch. So, the practical score is probably also a 9 out of 10.
With both scores being a 9 out of 10, that means I can feel good about spending some money on this. So, no money is going into my savings for this day, but I’m glad I’m at least holding myself accountable. And, I’m also glad I didn’t cheap out on my new mentee and miss out on this opportunity just to save a little bit of money — the overall amount for both of our lunches was only $13.14. The only way I probably could have saved a bit of money would be to invite her to coffee instead of lunch, but I think lunch was still the best choice.
Well, thanks for reading about my neurotic thought processes! I guess it’s good to at least write them down so I can remember when it feels good to spend versus when it doesn’t. And I’d love to hear how others deal with wanting to save money, but also wanting to pay it forward…so leave a comment if you have any ideas or experiences to share!