faux pas (?) and a sugary bargain...

FI and I have set-up a fairly strict budget and saving schedule leading up to the wedding. We are each contributing as many dollars as we can, based on our income vs. expenses. While there is a little wiggle room for the occasional meal out and minor splurge, we are being very conscious of our spending. Though I thought it would be restrictive, it's really been fine and I've rarely felt my wallet being pinched. Until yesterday.

A few friends and I went out for dinner last night. This is a group of girls I know very well and have been close with for many years. We get together at least once a month to eat, laugh and chat about all things new. Keeping the budget in mind, I set myself a limit of $25.00 for dinner, including tax and tip. This way, I could still enjoy the time with friends but, would not have to stretch my weekly money. Good plan, right?

I arrived at the restaurant early (another girl's pick) and was seated at our reserved table. I settled in with the menu and a copy of the newest Martha Stewart Weddings magazine to wait for my friends. A quick glance at the menu made me wince a bit as I saw that the average entree price was over $30. One of the specials caught my eye (roast duck and black cherry ravioli with a shallot creme sauce - delish!) and was - score! - a bargain at $18.00. The waitress poured mineral water and I was content with my decision to stick with my food choice and the H2O.

My friends arrived and we had a great time. They all ordered drinks (martinis and wine), salad/appetizer and entrees. I stuck with my water and the dinner special. After an hour or so of lively chatting, comforting one friend and catching up on life, it was time to settle the bill. One of the girls took out her calculator to split the bill 4 ways. I hated doing it but, I had to say something - I just couldn't spend over $50.00 for what I had ordered. I mentioned that I was on a tight budget and would they mind if I just put in for my order and split the tip. Two of the girls were fine and I put my $25.00 on the check. The one with the calculator was visibly annoyed and gave me a very cold goodnight as we left. Clearly, in her mind, I had made a major faux pas.

If the split had been just over my budget, I would have went with it. I never fuss about splitting the bill and am always willing to pitch in an extra few dollars or, whatever to keep the math easy. But, to pay more than double my budget for food and drinks that I did not even enjoy in light of my current financial planning? Just couldn't justify it. It may be that what is burning me most is that I would never expect anyone else to put in that much over their share. I'm always the one to suggest, "Hey, that's nuts, just pay for what you ordered!"

Tell me - was I out of line? What would you have done in my shoes???


And, not remotely related to anything other than the fact that I LOVE cheesecake...enjoy!

The Cheesecake Factory Serves Up a Delicious 30th Anniversary Celebration!
Celebrating “30 Delicious Years,” The Cheesecake Factory is serving up several sweet initiatives throughout 2008. To kick-off the anniversary celebration and in commemoration of National Cheesecake Day on July 30th, 2008, The Cheesecake Factory restaurants will offer every delicious slice of its more than 30 varieties of cheesecake with a dollop of nostalgia by featuring all cheesecakes at $1.50 per slice, limit one per guest, dine in only, on that day—as they were when the restaurant first opened in 1978.


LisaCJacks said...

You definitely were not out of line, Jen! That's too much to put in when you didn't enjoy the wine/martinis, salads and appetizers.

The Pittsburgh Pair said...

Of course you shouldn't put in more than what you owe...how bizznatchy of the friend to give you a look! My friends and I always request separate checks in this instance...maybe next time you could say that upfront, to keep everyone aware that you won't be footing their bill.

Anonymous said...

Definitely not out of line and a friend should understand. Totally reminded me of the episode of Friends where Joey, Phoebe, and Rachel cannot afford to split the expensive dinner check with Ross, Monica, and Chandler. They spoke up :)

nfaband said...

Jen ... you were right on with what you did ... these girls should understand. Do not give it a 2nd thought. Perhaps next time just state it at the beginning of the meal and go from there. BTW ... your meal sounded delish.

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