Carolyn Hax: Is frugality reason enough to skip meals with friends?

Placeholder while loading article actions

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Caroline: My spouse and I are not poor, although my spouse is much more frugal than me. A friend of ours chose a fairly expensive restaurant for another friend’s birthday. The cheapest entry was 2.5 times what we normally spend so my wife wanted to decline. A friend offered to cover our meals saying “you can pay me back later”. The gist of our response was that it wasn’t about affording it, but the meal was too expensive for the expected enjoyment, so we declined.

As far as I can tell, it hasn’t had a negative impact on our friendships, but I wonder if we should have gone anyway and not eaten or shared a plate. Would that have been a better decision?

Undecided: Before showing how I don’t support your decision, I’ll show how I support your decision: You are right to define and apply your priorities. It’s flawless, really.

But when I heard about turning down friend invites because you can afford the food but don’t want it, or only accepting if you can split an appetizer salad six ways, I shouts a little inside.

What are you saving for? What is the destination of this journey of hedonistic denial?

If you have something in mind that you both want, then great. And if these dinners are held regularly and the expense is just ridiculous, so much the better.

Anything less than that, however, is worth rethinking. We are guaranteed that there will be no more days on earth than the one we are living now. We receive pleasures in many forms, but most of them have something to do with our friendships and our senses. So it seems to me that creating fun — time with friends, dazzling food — can be compatible with even a frugal life plan, assuming you can afford it.

So you lock in the money you need to live on, the money you want to save, and then you put money into luxuries – what I would define as the “I can say yes without hesitation” fund.

I wouldn’t have said this if you celebrated your lifestyle without extravagance, but you seem to have doubts that you are hesitant to act on. You risk a lot of regret if you don’t start listening to that skeptical voice. If you want to start saying yes to more things, tell your spouse. If you want to start enjoying the financial security you’ve gained through being frugal, say so. If you want to explore the idea of ​​not moving as a couple on this, say so.

Re: Too expensive: Why not just suggest another restaurant? Spending too much on a meal can limit your ability to enjoy your friends.

Anonymous: Yes of course. And group birthday dinners can be a “good dud,” as they’re often too fussy, not fun enough, and unfair, where ordering ice water costs as much as surf-and-turf. So it’s kind of fun to use that as an example of carpe-diem.

Yet encouraging some “yeses” does not equal indulgence for indulgence. It is to recognize that a plate of lettuce also has a “cost”.

· The meal is not the pleasure! Your FRIEND is.

My dad deprived himself and my mom of a lot of innocent fun by being so cheap [person]. In the year before her death, she spent thousands on these silly gaming apps. I suspect it was revenge for all the shared, three-packed aperitifs in a bed in a no-disclosure motel when we could have been comfortable. She was that kind of passive-aggressive. But he let her, because she was going to die eight years after a retirement he had planned to last 30 years. The money she wasted, if he had spent it 20 years ago, could have been beautiful family memories.

We make it easy for you to never miss one of Carolyn’s cats. Sign up here to receive an email when the chat is about to start.

Comments are closed.