Life lessons

For yourself or others

I don’t know how many of you are fans of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

But if you are, you may remember the episode I’m about to mention. If you are not, well, I’m mentioning the episode and I hope you will understand.

It’s the episode in one of the earlier seasons where they have a fight around money. Ross, Monica and Chandler all have well-paying jobs as against Rachel, Phoebe and Joey. They go to a fancy restaurant (“someplace nice“) to celebrate Monica being promoted to head chef. Now, since the latter three don’t earn so well, they end up buying the cheapest meals (which is not so cheap in the fancy-schmancy restaurants). At the end of the meal, Ross divides the bill for 6 people. (those that don’t know the episode…I hope you can see where this is headed). So of course, the others finally say something about the whole money problem and how they always have to spend so much for birthdays and presents and promotions.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to talk about the tv series.

Rather, have you ever been in that situation?

I personally prefer paying for my share of the meal even in a group. And fortunately, my friends and I have done that rather than just dividing the bill. Having said that, in the past, I have been with groups where the whole meal is just divided. And it’s awkward.

I have been having some minor issues lately. I am in the process of trying to save to get my own place which would also require saving for furniture and well, almost everything. Now, while I don’t have problems over meals, it’s other stuff.

For instance, a couple of friends decided to go for this pottery painting thing and to me, it was on the expensive side for something I am not even into! So I declined. They invited me to a scrapbooking course and again, I declined. And now I wonder whether they are thinking I’m antisocial or I’m depressed. I rationalised with myself that they live at home with their parents so they don’t have as many expenses as I do and they can afford to spend their salaries on other stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not completely antisocial. I will go out for a meal or for coffee or even to the movies (as long as it’s something worthwhile) but I personally do not see the point of spending money for something that is not interesting for me at a time when I’m looking to scrimp and save. Yes, even if it means I could possibly be alienating friends. If I didn’t have concerns about money, I probably would have gone just for the social aspect of it.

The thing is my friends know I’m trying to save. So a part of me feels justified in declining certain events.

And yet, the anxious part of me thinks — what if they stop including me in everything else?

Rational me: Too bad!

I guess, at the end of the day, if I can’t save, I can’t get my own place which is far worse than not being asked out to things by a few friends. And I guess, if they really are friends, they will understand and none of the above should matter!

Anyway, do share if you have had any similar experiences. Would love to hear it.

Until next time,


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  • G
    25 May 2009 at 6:55 am

    Nice topic PB!. During lunch/dinner with friends, it usually so happens that we order food in such a way that everyone can eat together, so it is not like having an individual dish to yourself. That solves the problem since the bill also gets divided equally.
    But your post reminds me of a person I know, who would divide the bill equally even when she would order something totally different, expensive and would not even share it (!!) It’s not over yet, sometimes she would refuse to chip in to the entire bill claiming that she did not eat anything that summed up to that amount even if it meant paying Rs 10/- more than her share.
    Such people, I think should really use the take-away service or order their food home. They totally spoil the fun in eating out. My funda is: Don’t be manipulative. Follow one policy, and stick to it. If you cannot afford to pay for more than what you ate , don’t expect others to pay for your food. That’s cheap!

  • G
    25 May 2009 at 6:49 pm

    you have been tagged.

  • Gigi
    25 May 2009 at 9:06 pm

    If they are really your friends, then they will understand your situation.

  • Roshan
    26 May 2009 at 4:27 pm

    As a FRIENDS nut, I remember this episode very well. And I have been in this situation quite often – on both sides of the fence. My 2 closest buddies and I have adjusted and sometimes 1 or 2 of us will adjust during one evening out (drinks & dinner). One guy seems to adjust quite a lot as his family has more money than the other two of us. Things will change for the better – I just got a promotion and the other fellow got a new better paying job 🙂

  • Ersa
    26 May 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Nice post Psych…

    First of all, I must say that I LOVE FRIENDS. Have watched each episode million times 😛

    Now for the main part – When I was in undergrad/grad school I didn’t have much to spend on social outing. As a matter of fact, I NEVER went out (even for a movie or dinner) all through those years. And my friends did understand that. They never quit inviting even though they knew what my answer was gonna be…

    After school, I used to go out many times for dinners and such…(I’ve stopped eating out now to maintain healthy eating habits :-P) And given that I eat v v less compared to others, I wasn’t pleased when I had to pay a share of the bill instead of just for what I had. But such is life and I haven’t made a big deal of those things so far.

    But as far as doing something that does not interest you is concerned. I would never do that…I wouldn’t spend much on something I don’t like just for the sake of being with others. Reading from all your posts, I get that we are lot alike when it comes to being the introvert sort. So it doesn’t bother me much when people complain that I’m anti-social and such. I know that I am so and I don’t really care. And yes, as you said, if they are really good friends they will understand that you are not trying to avoid taking part in everything they do. They will get the fact that you are trying to save…so don’t worry :-)…

  • SSQuo
    26 May 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I have been in such situations!

    Personally, I do not have a problem splitting the bill unless it is very apparent that one set of people had much more than the other, esp. drinks. Oquai and I normally do get drinks, so if we feel we had more, we make it a point to call it out, and then pick up the tip if the other person is very insistent. Its only fair to everyone. With close friends, well we all drink, we all eat, so its kinda OK. I think its very important to find like minded people. Also, I don’t think declining the pottery class etc is a big deal (if you don’t like it), I think however, that even though you are saving, you should balance it out so that you do go out every once in a while, both to keep your sanity, to have a fun time and to stay in touch with friends too.

    Just my two cents, clearly, we are offering advice in a vacuum, so pls make the decisions based on your situation.