Dealing with friends and money

Do friends and money ever mix? Whether it’s anxiety over a birthday dinner that you just can’t afford right now or the loan you gave a friend two months ago—that she has yet to repay—being social can seem extremely tough sometimes.

We’ve picked four common scenarios that every friend-on-a-budget encounters and show you how to deal with them with your class, and cash, in check.

The dinner bill.
You and some friends meet up for dinner after a hard day’s work. The French bistro is not expensive, but your budget doesn’t allow for a full-course meal. You order an appetizer and water while the other ladies indulge on steak and glasses of wine. They ask why you’re not partaking in the grub and you respond that you’re not hungry. Phew, got out of that! But then the bill comes and Cara suggests splitting it to make it easier. You think, “Man, Cara can be such a jerk.”

How to deal: If you must itemize for financial reasons or because you’re really not hungry, don't wait for the bill to arrive before deciding what you will do. “You need to be direct, honest and a bit light-hearted. When they say let's split the bill you should be prepared to say something like, ‘Well since I just had a salad I'll put in the cost of the salad and my portion of the tip,’” Dr. Lois Frankel, author of Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich, says. “But then you have established a precedent that will be remembered, so don't expect them to pay more when you order a complete meal.”

The money borrowing friend.
“I knew this guy that would purposely go out to eat with us and never had money on him,” says Vi, 23. “We’d go out to eat after doing something together and the first few times people would cover for him since he was like ‘Oh, I forgot my wallet.’ He never paid us back.”