Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

When Is a Splurge a Good Thing?

Not, one could argue, when the Splurger is supposed to be pinching pennies to get through a ridiculously tight time.

That bit of logic notwithstanding, today I blew $400 out of my monthly diddle-it-away fund, reducing the balance to just over a thousand bucks. After the glasses and the clothes episodes, this might (one could argue), just might not represent the highest pinnacle of wisdom to which I have ever aspired.

But it’s not bothering me. Here’s why:

Today’s purchase is a new gas grill, a Weber Spirit E-210, which sells here, there, and everywhere for $399. It’s small—only two burners—but it comes highly recommended by reviewers on several sites.

I love my charcoal grill, which replaced the last gas grill. But…it’s just enough extra work to make me not want to fire it up for dinner. Even when I feel like hassling with it and then scrubbing charcoal dust out from under my fingernails, at this time of year it feels unsafe. During monsoon, a stiff wind can come up with no warning; the hardwood charcoal I favor shoots out hot sparks and cinders with the élan of a magnesium sparkler. In a stiff breeze, they blow into the shrubbery and trees, and frankly I’m concerned about starting a fire in these hot, dry conditions.

Meanwhile, cooking in the kitchen also creates a hassle. Every time I get that darn stove clean, I end up splattering more grease all over it. Last night I cooked a piece of steak and, craving a little enhancement, poured in a few drops of wine to deglaze the pan. Even though I’d turned the heat off under the pan, the wine and hot grease exploded all over the kitchen!

So with dinner congealing on the plate, I got to break out the de-greasers and scrub down the walls, counters, floor, and even the counter all the way across the kitchen from the stove. That was fun.

When I’m tired, which is most of the time, I just don’t feel like making another mess to have to clean up, like having to scrub a frying pan and at least one or two other pans if I make side dishes.

The result is, I’m not eating well. Sometimes I’m not eating at all. I just don’t want to be bothered with the mess.

Half the time I snack on cheese and crackers, often washed down with a beer or two. If I feel energetic enough to cook, it’ll be a pot of pasta, because I can prepare the pasta and a quick sauce in the same pan. As a result, despite not eating much, I’m getting even fatter than I was.

This isn’t healthy.

When I had the gas grill, I usually tossed meat and vegetables onto the grill to cook. All that had to be washed was a dinner plate, a glass, a knife, and a fork. The stove never needed to be scrubbed more than once a month, if that often. I ate well because it was easy to eat well.

Now I’m eating badly—when I eat at all—and I’m getting fatter and fatter.

You see where this is going? I regard that $400 as an investment in my health, not an extravagance. I have got to get back to eating properly!

This little grill, which actually cost a bit more than I planned, is just about the right size to cook one or two portions. The big charcoal grill can be reserved for when guests come over or when I have enough ambition to cook up something that tastes smokey and good.

I think I got a pretty good deal on it: commenters at Amazon revealed that the version sold at Home Depot comes with cast-iron grates; most Weber Spirit models have sheet metal grills, far less desirable. Went over to Lowe’s and found the Weber Spirit there, and sure enough, theirs had the chintzy grates. Lowe’s was having a sale on a larger, fancier model, but the $500 asking price was more than I could afford. On to Home Depot: yea verily, for the same price, their Weber Spirit 210 has nice, heavy cast-iron grates. Not only that, but the Depot will assemble the thing for free.

So I think this is a case where a splurge is not a splurge.

Did I already have a charcoal grill? Yes. But because it’s charcoal and not gas, I use it less and less.
Did I need a gas grill? Probably not, given that a perfectly fine charcoal grill is standing out there in the backyard.
But really, do I need a gas grill? Sure, if I’m going to get back to eating healthy again. Or eating at all.

Cheese & crackers vs. meat and veggies? No contest. I really do think this is not a splurge but a wise move, in spite of the bad timing.

Have you ever had a splurge that was not a splurge? What did you not-a-splurge on?

Author: funny

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6 Comments

  1. Our biggest splurge was our pretty old house, somewhat overpriced and a bit too expensive for our income. No regrets.

  2. You definitely make a compelling argument for the purchase and I agree with it for the reasons you’ve mentioned. I also think that Weber makes a pretty good grill. My parents just gave us their old Weber grill because they wanted one that matched their new backyard set. The old grill is over twenty five years old and still works great. Compare that to the grill it replaces in our backyard, which was one that we picked up at Big Lots and lasted exactly three years before everything inside started breaking down and became unusable.

    One additional advantage that I’m surprised you didn’t mention is that grilling outdoors will move the heat from cooking out of your house, thus helping in your constant battle with the A/C bill.

  3. I actually find it detestable to grill outdoors in the summer because it’s like standing in an oven in front of the grill… that said, I usually see if I can convince my husband to do any grilling in the burning hot Arizona summer heat. That pretty much guarantees that the meat will come in charred and rare. 😉 You have the benefit of a nice backyard with some shaded areas, and your swimming pool. I’m sure that would make it a lot easier for me if I could jump into the pool and then grill in a shaded area. I think it was a good purchase and I hope it lasts you for many years to come.

  4. Mrs. Accountability, you missed the key ingredient in grilling outside in the heat, and that’s to have a drink in hand. That always seems to make the whole process a little easier 🙂

  5. You crack me up! I read the first couple of paragraphs and then saw the picture and just started laughing. Not in a bad way, of course. It was an affirmative, good for you sort of laugh.

    And I like it when you said, “When I had the gas grill, I usually tossed meat and vegetables onto the grill to cook. All that had to be washed was a dinner plate, a glass, a knife, and a fork.” That sounds like a lifestyle I want to adopt.

    Those new sexy Weber TV commercials are one of my favorites. I hope you feel just as sexy and in a dancing mood in front of your new Weber grill. Now that’s real nice!

  6. @ frugalscholar: Welcome back! Nothing like a house to count as a splurge, eh?

    @ Money Beagle: Consumer reviews for the Weber were almost consistently high. Several people remarked that they had purchased cheaper grills before and found they crapped out after a year or two. Professional and quasi-professional reviews explicitly stated that cheaper grills can be expected to last a max of three years, and so it’s more cost-effective to spend a little more for something that will survive longer than that.

    @ Mrs. Accountability (and Money Beagle): I usually end up cooking after dark. Often dinner happens around 9:00 p.m. It’s still hot, but at least you don’t have the sun pounding down on you! The “drink in hand” part is important.

    @ Victoria: The simpler the better! You know, I used to have a wonderful little hibachi grill. It folded up and you could carry it around with a handle. You did have to fire up some charcoal to operate it…but that could be the answer for your peripatetic lifestyle. Amazon has one for $26. And for under $40, you can get a propane tabletop grill and hibachi (use outdoors, o’course). I think my son had one of these when he was living in his various serial apartments and liked it. For $54 on Amazon, Weber has a propane “go anywhere” grill that looks about the same but purports to give you the Weber quality — 4 1/2 stars from 161 reviews.

    Hmmmm…. Matter of fact, I wonder if I want one of THOSE instead of another piece of flaming outdoor furniture…