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When you are poorer than your friends...

(28 Posts)
Notcontent Sun 17-Nov-13 21:49:17

Just wondered what your thoughts are on this.

I work in a professional job and so I am ok financially but I am also a lone parent which means that I have to be a bit careful with finances. I have some friends I sometimes go out with who earn more than I do and also they are single, so they have a much larger disposable income.

I would never want to be treated as the "poor" friend but recently I felt that they were being a bit inconsiderate towards me. Friend A organised a dinner for her birthday. We first met for a drink. I turned up with a present. Friend B insisted that we must pay for friend A's drinks as it was her birthday. Fair enough. But then we had dinner at a fairly expensive restaurant and once again friend b declared that we must pay for friend A's dinner. She meant well but to be honest I really can't afford to be so generous but of course could not say anything.

BeigeBuffet Mon 18-Nov-13 14:46:29

I have complete sympathy for you OP, you shouldn't have been made to pay and if I were your friend I would have insisted that you didn't pay for me.

My friends and I are all in very different financial positions so we have found a local restaurant that does great food and we eat from the early bird menu which is £10 for a starter and a main. It's manageable and we all know how much to budget that way. Maybe you could suggest something similar

TheRobberBride Mon 18-Nov-13 14:30:52

I am in this position with my NCT friends. The rest of the group are lovely but much wealthier than me.

When arranging a meal out or whatever, I always said straight away that it sounded lovely but it would need to be Pizza Express or similar as I was on a budget. I refused to feel embarrassed because I earned less than them and, to their credit, they were always very tactful about it.

In your situation OP, I think B was very insensitive. But equally, you should have said something at the time. I understand why you didn't but you do need to make it clear sometimes that you simply can't afford X. If they are really your friends they will understand.

forevercosy Mon 18-Nov-13 14:13:21

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Yes I've noticed that too at times. Few years ago I went out in a big group to a restaurant. Most of the people were drinking wine, some of us (including me) weren't as we were driving.

All the wine drinkers announced that the bill should be split between us all, including the £135 drinks bill.

All in all, they'd drunk 9 bottles of £14.99 per bottle wine and expected to split it between everyone angry

We spoke up and it caused a right rift (in front of the poor waiter who had come with the bill). There were ill feelings for a few weeks afterwards (as we'd refused to split the drinks bill). We never went out again after that! thank god

Bubbles1066 Mon 18-Nov-13 12:00:05

You need to tell them, in plain language, what your budget is and that you can't afford it. They will understand if they are decent friends but you can't blame them if you don't tell them.
I know people who are richer than me and if we are going out, I will say I only have £10 or so for drinks etc then we all know where we are. I have no issues talking about money, it saves a lot of problems if you are just honest.

sandfrog Mon 18-Nov-13 11:34:49

Friend B was out of line. If there are going to be extra costs, you should be told at the outset rather than just finding out when you arrive. This gives people the option to decline the invitation.

I hope they'll be buying you dinner on your birthday!

anothermadamebutterfly Mon 18-Nov-13 11:23:58

YANBU to find it this difficult, but YABU if you expect them to realise and understand your situation without you spelling it out for them - you have to tell them that money is tight for you, and give them the chance to find alternative ways of meeting up. They could just simply not be thinking. If it is a problem for them they you will have to opt out, but they could well be happy to compromise. I had a period like that when the kids were young and DH was still in training, and all my friends seemed to have more disposable income than me, even though I was working.

I used to do things like join my friends or dessert and/or coffee/drink when they went out for a meal, or invite them over to my house for dinner instead of eating out, that sort of thing.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Mon 18-Nov-13 09:56:12

Notcontent - It's only a difficult topic if you make it so. I don't see why it needs to be any more difficult than anything else. It's YOUR money and it's up to YOU how you spend it (aside from those pesky things like utility companies and the tax man). I would no more allow a friend to decide how to spend what relatively modest spare cash I have than to allow them to decide they are going to borrow my car.

Friend B may well have been trying to be nice but at the possible expense of other people. The friendliest thing to do would be to discuss it in advance.

LaGuardia Mon 18-Nov-13 09:50:47

I am a poor student nurse and nearly dropped dead with embarrassment when my rich banker friends split the bill between them recently because I am managing on a grant. I wouldn't have gone out with them if I couldn't afford it. I love them to bits, and it was a lovely gesture but it was a bit blush

Notcontent Mon 18-Nov-13 09:40:57

Yes, it was very much a case of friend B trying to be nice. But we usually just split the bill, so this was a new thing. Money is such a difficult topic!

SleepyFish Mon 18-Nov-13 09:12:43

This situation is easily avoided. As a sp on a budget I only ever take cash on a night out, and only take what I can afford to spend, it wouldn't include paying for someone else's meal. Saying that if A was one of my close friends they would never agree to me paying for their meal anyway. Not much you can do about it now but next time don't be scared to say, sorry I can't afford to do that.

pianodoodle Mon 18-Nov-13 09:11:28

We had to turn down a recent invitation to a birthday dinner for this reason.

I gave a different reason though as the friend in question might have offered to pay for us and I didn't want her to feel she had to. I'd have felt embarrassed sad

Then we went over during the week with a home-made present instead.

Good friends should understand though. We had plenty of nice days out during the summer with friends but it's always me and one other girl who come with packed lunches etc...

Rather than draw attention to the fact that we're obviously too skint to get lunch from the cafe the other friends say they wish they were as "organised" as us. Bless them smile

Next time I'd just make your position clear from the start to avoid seething afterwards it's not nice feeling put on the spot and you can't enjoy yourself knowing you've spent more than you can afford.

They should have been more considerate - some people have different definitions of skint too. They don't just don't realise if they see a dinner out as a small thing that someone else might not.

WooWooOwl Mon 18-Nov-13 09:09:16

I don't think they were being inconsiderate to you, more that they were trying to do a nice thing for the person whose birthday it was.

I can understand you being annoyed about the assumption you would chip in if it was sprung on you out of the blue, but in some friendship groups there is the assumption that everyone else will chip in for the person who's celebration it is. I have a group of friends that always do this for each other, but then I've also celebrated other birthdays where the birthday person pays for all the drinks as a thank you for coming out to celebrate with them.

There isn't a right or wrong way of doing things, it's different for everyone. I think it's better to go with what the majority want to do.

chandlerbing Mon 18-Nov-13 09:05:22

Jessica, I've found that too. The ones that normally want the bill split equally are usually those that have had the most expensive main course, and vast amounts of wine.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Mon 18-Nov-13 09:00:33

This sort of situation used to piss me off. Now I speak up and will politely but firmly say "no". It's very rude to make blanket assumptions for other people in front of them.

And am I the only person to have noticed that the people who tend to want to split the bill are the people who have spent the most and thereby get their bill 'reduced' by splitting? I got wise to that one, too.

I do find that there are two sorts of people - those who think everyone earns as much as they do and those who spend sensibly!

Bumblequeen Mon 18-Nov-13 08:49:01

I really avoid eating out/going out when I am short of cash. It is no fun choosing the cheapest meal off the venue, sticking to one/two drinks.

I recall being broke on nights out and sticking to a budget only to find that the split. This is always awkward.

I remember going to lunch with two colleagues. It was A's birthday so I asked B if we could pay for her lunch -around £5. B said she was broke so I paid for it. No fuss was made.

Notcontent Mon 18-Nov-13 00:16:22

It makes me feel better to see that I am not being completely unreasonable to feel annoyed.

Bread - the situation you describe sounds even worse than mine!

Breadkneadslove Sun 17-Nov-13 22:14:18

Not sure what to suggest... but I understand where you are coming from and I do think people can be inconsiderate in these situations.

I just had a similar thing happen this week too. Met my friend on Thursday during the day and we went for lunch, I paid as it was her birthday on the Friday and she had made no plans apart from spending the evening with her dp, then I get a call from our other friend on Friday am, saying we are going to have early evening birthday drinks and a quick bite to eat for friend. Fine so I rock up, with a gift for birthday friend, I have a couple of drinks, there is a tab running, the bar is getting busy, we decide to move on for food, our friend who arranged the evening is chatting to someone else, so I end up splitting bill with birthday friends dp £25 each (it's fine, i think, will sort out when we get food). Change of plan friend who arranged night out decides not to join for food. We go for pizza, bill comes for food, dp declares birthday friend can't put her hand in her pocket! So I split bill again with dp... FFS!!!!

Not sure the best way to resolve these types of situation other than being a bit more ballsy and saying. 'Sorry but I didn't realise we were expected to pay for the birthday girl, I brought a gift instead!"

In these situations I just suck it up and think / hope that next time it work itself out, it will be my birthday or someone else will say, I'll get this as I forgot to pay last time or whatever!

I do try however when I am arranging nights out etc to be mindful of those who aren't drinking or consider affordable options that suit everyone etc. it may be worth just mentioning in the passing to one of your friends how you feel and hopefully that might prompt them to be more considerate next time but not in a patronizing poor friend way.

chandlerbing Sun 17-Nov-13 22:07:59

I think friend B was totally out of order. I would be really pissed off if someone ordered me to pay for something for someone else, regardless of what my budget was

NumTumRedRum Sun 17-Nov-13 22:05:28

Yanbu. I hate this. It's awkward and makes me think twice about going out with certain people.

cfc Sun 17-Nov-13 22:03:50

I have been proper brassic in my time. Should someone have pulled this shite and I couldn't afford to be so generous I'd have said so.

If I'd have been the friend suggesting we bankroll birthday friend's night out and you'd have said to me "look, I really can't I'm sorry" (and left it there) then that would have of course been fine!

Consideration is key.

forevercosy Sun 17-Nov-13 22:01:51

I'm very much the 'poor' friend, but I do keep it on a low down which sometimes drops me in awkward water.

I've been caught up in your situation few times over the years.

Friend B was out of line. Hate the expectations some people have and also how they speak up on behalf of everyone (announcing you should pay etc).


lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 17-Nov-13 21:58:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AnandaTimeIn Sun 17-Nov-13 21:58:36

Both friend A and B should not be expecting a single mother to cough up for their dinner.

If I'd been friend A I would have said No Way! at the suggestion.

But then again, being a SP myself, I may not have had that foresight if I was childless.....

mumofbeautys Sun 17-Nov-13 21:55:34

I feel your pain , about 2 years ago me and another poorer friend went to dinner with 4 wealthier friends we both didn't eat and said we weren't hungry , in fact we scoffed a big Mac on the way lol

harticus Sun 17-Nov-13 21:54:16

I really don't like it when people decide how much money I should spend by doing things like this.
It puts you in very difficult position and Friend B was being a bit of an arse frankly.

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