By Brandi Savitt – October 27, 2011
Paying More than Your Fair Share
Last week, after finishing a major project at the office, our dear friend Jo went out with a few work buddies to celebrate. Everyone ordered a cocktail and began chatting about how thrilled they all were with the outcome of the project. Jo, who was enjoying her time unwinding, was nursing a cold and decided to sit the next round of drinks out. As these things go, round two progressed to round three, and after a couple of bottles of wine and multiple tapas for the table, the gang finally called it quits for the night.
When the bill came the cards came out, and before Jo knew it, the waitress had split the bill equally on all of the cards. Embarrassed to speak up that she only had one drink and no food, yet upset she had to pay 4x what she owed, Jo didn’t want to complicate the situation. So, she did what so many of us do – she said nothing – and then called me the next day to complain….
Been There, Done That
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been in awkward money situation with friends at one point or another. Whether it’s splitting the bill or getting reimbursed for fronting the money for something, it’s always tough to be the one asking to be paid back or having to announce you want to pay less than everyone else. Let’s face it, who wants to seem cheap? But on the other hand, the only person who can control your budget is you… So, how should you handle it?
Communication and managing expectations (yours and your friends) are key. In casual situations with friends, there is nothing wrong with letting your pals know that you would prefer to pay for your share only. This is true if someone owes you money as well. Whether we like it or not, people are not always as observant or mindful as we would hope. We all can be forgetful, and most of us actually appreciate a gentle reminder. In most cases, your friends are not looking to screw you, and if they are — they’re obviously not really your friends!
Own Your Silence
Sure, it sounds easy to just speak up, but we all know that there are those times when it’s not appropriate, or you’d still rather not say anything and just cough up the cash. And that’s fine, but that’s also your choice. You can’t expect other people to take the lead for you, and you can’t get upset in awkward money situations if they don’t. That’s not fair, either. The only person’s actions you can be responsible for are your own. So, if you choose to let things slide, you also need to accept that choice. Suck it up and don’t go talking about the situation to your other friends as if someone wronged you. Your only enemy is you….
Take Control of Your Wallet
The truth is, you will likely have to face many more awkward money moments in the years to come, and good communication can only go so far. You are the only one who really knows what’s in your bank account. If you can’t afford to take the risk that you might have to pay more than you planned, avoid putting yourself in that position in the first place. If you feel certain friends constantly take advantage of money situations, avoid big ticket nights with those friends. Choose activities that you can afford and enjoy doing. Finding that balance is not easy, but it’s absolutely worth it to your friendships – and your wallet – in the end!