Spotting Friends

July 23, 2008 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

I’ve been reading about splitting checks. I recently had my own variation on this that I’ve been noticing.

A few times recently I have lent someone five dollars when needed, paid for a meal when someone was short on cash, etc. They’ve all been small expenditures but all of us money-watchers know that five or ten dollars here and there still count. I’ve noticed people usually offer to repay these debts by getting my lunch next time or a similar offer. This was fine back when I used to get lunch several times a week, and I have never been so worried about the money that I would count the exact amount spent on a friend. With certain friends where we still do go out to eat together regularly this method still works fine. Now that I am trying not to buy lunch, though, this method pretty much sucks.

A couple months ago I spent about $10 on a friend that never got returned because instead of buying lunch I’ve been bringing it, and I haven’t been going out to drink. It’s on my expense spreadsheet (yes, I am a big dork about my expense spreadsheet) as money spent, with the assumption it’s just gone. Recently I bought a friend food and he offered to just get me next time for lunch, and I decided to say no. I felt weird about it, but I explained that I was trying not to spend money on lunch, and that if I hadn’t spent the money on him I would have saved it. He said okay, but it made what should have been a casual and friendly exchange feel stiff and weird.

I’ve read tons of articles on money and friends but can’t think of a better way to have handled this. He’ll know for the future, but that’s just one person. I suppose I could just count it as money lost but that’s hard when I am trying to save every dollar. Or I could refuse to spend money on friends, but that’s never been my style. Maybe if I had a few more social skills.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ali  |  July 28, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I hope someone reveals a brilliant way of sidestepping this problem because, like you, I’ve generally eaten the cost rather than creating an awkward social situation.

    One of Eric’s old bandmates had a running tab, down to the cent, of how much money he had ever laid out for each of his friends (including things like cost of gas during trips HE had orchestrated). I shudder at the thought of being on that side of the spectrum.

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