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Saving a Buck: Sharing Expenses

You know money can be a touchy subject with your family, friends and even co-workers. But don’t let those dollar signs divide you. Misty LaFave admits it’s hard for her to deal with her friends and family when it comes to money.

LaFave said, “I have a very hard problem not just grabbing the check and paying for it.”

LaFave is one of those who often ends up paying more than she planned.

Jennifer Wallis with Consumer Credit Counseling Services said, “I think we all have an issue with being perceived as cheap.”

LaFave often covers the bill.

She rarely asks her friends to pay her back, but ends up feeling financially drained.

She said, “You don’t want to bug them for the $5. You just pay it and move on.”

From dinners out to splitting living expenses, financial expert Jennifer Wallis said there are ways to keep friends and family members from blowing your budget.

The first suggestion, set your expectations upfront.

Ask your server for separate checks upfront to prevent an awkward silence when the bill comes at the end of your meal.

And be careful how you word those dinner invitations.

Wallis said, “Instead of saying, “Hey, let me take you out for dinner,’ maybe say, ‘Hey, let’s meet for dinner.’ To me, one says you’re paying, one says maybe you could split it.”

When it comes to roommates, a web site called SplitTheRent.org is a free way to track your bills and split them evenly without any friction.

Wallis said another area of conflict is at work.

She said when chipping in for an office gift, consider asking what everyone is willing to pay.

Wallis said, “Ask right up front how much are you willing to pay instead of buying something expensive and asking everyone to chip in.”

If you aren’t the one buying, before you agree to chip in, ask how much it will cost so there’s no surprise later.

LaFave admits it’s a hard balance for her to find but our financial expert said financial boundaries are necessary in order to keep your bottom line on track.

Wallis said if you can’t afford to chip in, just say no to group gifts.

She suggests talking with potential roommates upfront about splitting costs and put in writing what’s expected of each party.

She said your true friends will understand if you can’t always afford that dinner or that night on the town.