It’s hard to strike the balance between saving for the future and living in the now. Thrifty choices that seem easy when you’re alone become complicated in social situations. There are a lot of social traps when going out to bars and restaurants with friends. Do you split the bill evenly? Do you share the appetizer that isn’t your choice? Do you drink alcohol when you otherwise wouldn’t? We have a friend – the Weasel – who never quite pays for his complete share when the bills arrives.
What is a Weasel exactly? Well, according to the dictionary it is:
- Anyof various carnivorous mammals of the genus Mustela, having a long slender body, a long tail, short legs, andbrownish fur that in many species turns white in winter.
- A person regarded as sneaky or treacherous . . .
To back out of a situation or commitment in a sneaky or cowardly manner.
Yep, that’s a weasel.
To be fair, yes, you can always assert your own choice, but at some point it may become socially uncomfortable. There’s a certain understanding that you should pay less if you ordered only an appetizer and everyone else ordered an entrée. But what if your entrée was $12.95 and everyone else’s was $15? Do you calculate to the penny when the bill comes? Weasel much?
It’s the situations in between these extremes that provide more of a gray area. Below are a few guidelines to help keep your financial goals on track while still socializing with your friends in a non-weasellike manner.
- Arrive Late/Leave Early
If you are on a somewhat different timeline, it’s easier to order differently than the others without a lot of questions. Say you have a prior commitment so that you are unable meet until later in the night, or blame an early departure on a work meeting. Either way, you likely won’t be expected to share the bill equally.
- Order Differently
If you order a soup and everyone else gets steak, you won’t be expected to share the bill equally. The other night my friends and I went out for drinks. I like wine and would normally go with the flow, but I prefer beer so that’s what I ordered. In the end, my beers were cheaper, I enjoyed them more, and I didn’t have to split the insanely expensive bottle of wine they chose. Win. Had I gone the easy route of splitting the open bottle, I would have been out a lot more dough.
- Don’t drink or eat
It should go without saying that if you’re not drinking or eating, you are certainly not required to pay. To alleviate any weirdness, be sure to make up an excuse for why you ate before you came or why you aren’t drinking. Practice your excuse. Your friends may try to break you down (and sometimes they might!), but go in with good intentions and you may come back with a fatter wallet.
These are some tips that I’ve found to be helpful. What other strategies can be used to avoid being a social weirdo while still defending your wallet?