It’s a Friday night, everyone has had a long week, and you and a few friends decide to go out to have some drinks and to get a bite to eat. Two hours pass, everyone is having a good time, and then the bill comes and it sits in the middle of the table. It is likely one of the following will occur:
- One person reaches for the check and does the math for everyone.
- Everyone passes the check around and calculates their own food and drink cost.
- Someone says let’s just split the bill equally among everyone.
There are other options that can occur but those above tend to be three typical responses. Issues can arise with any of the responses. For example, if one person calculates the cost for everyone, maybe someone is uncomfortable not seeing the bill but doesn’t want to say anything. Or when everyone calculates their own cost, there isn’t enough money to pay the bill in full and leave a nice tip. Then who puts in more money? Is it fair to split the bill equally when some people don’t drink alcohol or someone only had an appetizer and everyone else ate meals? Or one person drank substantially more than anyone else at the table. Or one person showed up late and only had one drink? The point behind this whole exercise is if dividing up the bill gets frustrating or dampens the evening- then money has interfered with friendship and with fun. So what’s the solution? It is being comfortable talking about money with your friends. Money is not a taboo subject and it should not be treated like one. Get comfortable talking about money even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. If money gets in the way of a friendship, we are giving the money-related issue a negative charge and not keeping money neutral.
Not everyone, even among friends, is in the same financial situation at any given time. If friends are comfortable talking about money with each other, and there is no judgment attached, then if one friend needs to bow out of a group activity or can go but can only afford a drink and an appetizer- that can be said upfront. Then not only is there not a concern when the bill arrives- there is no worry during the night out, as the money situation has already been addressed. Then we can get on with the business of fun and enjoying each other’s company. My friends and I (those are seven of my incredible friends in the blog photo) are very comfortable speaking our minds with each other when it comes to money. We all love and respect each other and get it when although someone may want to join us- it is currently not in that friend’s budget. We often actually say the words, I want to go but, “It’s not in my budget.” We get it and we get each other. And we have fun! We also have a lot of house parties where everyone brings a dish and a drink and we somehow often end up dancing in the living room- fun and cost effective!
Also, when you get comfortable talking about money with your friends, you can plan trips together and have amazing adventures that everyone can afford- through budgeting and pre-planning. As my friend Lisa pictured above says, “Budgeting doesn’t tell you what you can’t spend- it tells you what you can spend.” In the photo above we were in Nashville. Eight of us traveled to the Music City together to celebrate Lisa’s birthday- that’s an example of the Joy of Money and what budgeting can do! It is shifting how we look at and deal with money in our life, including how we deal with it in our relationships. Money is a part of all our relationships in one form or another. We can neutralize the charge of money in our relationships by talking about it openly and honestly with no judgment attached.
Susan, The MoneyMaestra