How do I tell my friends that I can’t afford to eat out all the time?

  • For love and money It’s a bimonthly Insider column that answers questions about relationship and money.
  • This week, a reader asks how to talk to friends who’ve always wanted to dine out.
  • Our columnist recommends inviting them to dinner to spend some time together.
  • Do you have a question for our columnist? Write for love and money using This Google Form.

Dear on love and money,

Our friends prefer eating out, and when I say eat out, I mean every meal. It’s quite expensive, but they say eating at home is the same cost, so they don’t want to change their ways.

My husband and I only like to eat out a few times a week because we can eat much cheaper at home. We usually make it work, but that’s hard because we usually just give up and go out to spend time with them.

The relationship with them is starting to feel like a choice between breaking up or Saving Money loss of friendship. What do we do?


Foodie Friend

best friends ,

The intersection between food and finances is fascinating because while food is a relatively manageable variable in our budgets, it is also essential to survival. Millennials have been badly told that latte and avocado toast are the only thing standing between us and home ownership, while other personal finance experts say if you’re agonizing over a $5 cup of coffee, you’ll have even bigger problems.

I think this focus on food in personal finance This is due to the way that both feeding ourselves and handling our finances have come to reflect our value systems. Since everyone’s value system is different, when our values ​​conflict with those of our loved ones, it feels like an issue of identity. it feels Personal.

So, before I get into my suggestions, I’d like to encourage you to remember that while your friends influence you with their restaurant predilections, this is not intentional. They don’t do this in You are; They simply like what they like, and what they like is having someone else prepare their meals.

But since this understanding does not change the financial burden of a night out dinner, I have three suggestions Save your money and your friends.

First, invite them to dinner

I grew up with parents who had friends over dinner all the time. My mom was the child of a priest turned officer’s wife, so even after my parents left the army, hosting remained an essential part of my mom.

Growing up in an environment where big, home-cooked meals with friends were around the dining table weekly, sometimes twice a week, I moved into adulthood believing that hosting friends for dinner was part of being an adult. But it turns out that my friends were baffled and intimidated by the idea of ​​dinner parties.

While friends have always enthusiastically accepted dinner invitations, the invitations my husband and I receive in return have always included restaurants and bars. Don’t get me wrong, I love a little more than spending lazy afternoons listening to live music in outdoor brewery – But depending on your point of view, it becomes expensive.

I addressed this by leading the way. I kept inviting my friends to dinner at our house. I showed how easy it is by throwing a roll of paper towels on the table instead of an origami cloth napkin. My guests were always in charge of drinks, and my husband and I had a handful of the low-effort, crowd-satisfying, budget-friendly meals we prepared in turns.

Between good food, a quiet environment, and excellent company, our dinner parties have always been fun. More fun, in fact, than dinner in a noisy restaurant with a grouchy waiter that will inevitably end in an awkward fight over the check.

This is not my opinion: it has become the consensus of our group of friends. Because after several dinners at our house, our friends are no longer intimidated by the idea of ​​reciprocating. Now, the unspoken understanding is that restaurants and bars are the exception, but eating at each other’s homes is the rule.

So, try to invite your friends over for dinner. If you’re in a small living space, ask them more than a few at a time. If they seem unwilling to turn things around at first, play the best friend card and flatter them.

Be prepared to host the first of several dinners. If your friends are foodies, and that’s why they love restaurants so much, turn dinner at home into a culinary adventure. Invite them early enough to help you cook and try this month’s trending vegetables together.

Before long, you’ll likely find that you’ve changed your group dynamic.

Second, when you eat out, be intentional

If everything about my first suggestion made you want to escape the screaming, another option is to reserve your restaurant meals for your friends.

You mentioned that your friends want every meal out while you and your husband only want to eat out twice a week.

Two dinners a week with your friends is all it takes to maintain your relationships. For the rest of the week, you and your spouse can eat at home, allowing you to set aside your time and money for those two dinners a week with your friends.

Third, talk to them

You mentioned that you are always the one who gives up and does things your way. If this sounds unfair, it is because it is. Tell your friends that you don’t want to eat out. Don’t attribute that preference to finances because I feel like when they pull you into weeds for grocery costs versus restaurant costs. Be gentle but firm, and remember that these people are your friends. If they don’t let you get your way 50% of the time, they probably aren’t as good friends as you think.

Having said that, I don’t think food choices should come between you and your loved ones. No matter how weird we all can feel when it comes to money and meals, a good friend will see and hear you, and when appropriate, follow your lead. So bring your friends back to the kitchen and have a great meal.

rooting for you,

For love and money

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