Warning to the wise: this is another long-ish rant.
What's your policy with money? Do you ever lend your friends money and if so,
what's the limit? What do you do when they don't return the money by a stipulated period? What's a reasonable time to wait before you gently remind them that they still owe you money? Do you send them reminders? Or do you wait for them to remember the debt on their own?
What about communal meals with friends or colleagues? In particular, very large groups of friends/colleagues. There's usually someone who pays the bill first, especially if there's some kind of discount tied to some kind of credit card and there's only one person who has that particular credit card.
I'm not talking about those fluid arrangements with close(r) friends where people take turns to pick up the tab. Usually in such cases, the tab-picking is generally fair and nobody really feels shortchanged because it's all close friends, and close friends generally don't take advantage of you. Of course, there's always those "toxic friends" who always "forget their wallets" or "don't have enough cash" or make empty promises to "pick up the next tab", i.e. those that try to sucker you into parting with your money to enrich themselves. Which then raises the question of "why are you still friends with them"?
No, what I'm referring to is those kind of situations whereby it's a huge group of not-super-close friends or colleagues, and someone pays for the entire meal first, while it is understood and accepted that the rest are supposed to repay their own share of the communal meal (because you can't expect your colleague/not-so-close friend to pick up the several-hundred-dollars bill by himself/herself for the rest of his/her colleagues/not-so-close friends). I'm always appalled at people who regularly seem to forget to pay for their share and require several reminders before finally paying their share of the meal.
By the way, one episode of forgetfulness does not a cheapskate or stingepot make. Upon further investigation, I've noticed that it's usually the same culprits who suffer from the unfortunate ailment of chronic "forgetfulness".
I hate having to send out reminders for payment. I hate it even more when the perpetrator, when reminded that he/she still owes money for that meal 4 months ago, acts like I'm the desperate tightwad that cannot let such money issues go. It's then exacerbated if the culprit is not poor or broke, but rather, someone who earns a comfortable living (i.e. your colleague or someone in the same industry so you can pretty much guess how much he/she earns anyway). I just don't geddit. Where are people's manners nowadays??
Some people give the filmsy excuse that it's because they come from a humble background (i.e. poor) and/or are taught how to be more prudent with their spending. That's entirely fallacious. Unless one was coerced into going out for lunch/dinner, and if wasn't earlier made known to everyone which restaurant the lunch/dinner was going to be held at, one shouldn't go along for lunch/dinner if one didn't want to spend that money (i.e. prudent or stingy, depending on how you look at it) or doesn't have that money to spare on such a lunch/dinner at such a restaurant (i.e. poor).
Besides, that's side-stepping the real issue. A prudent person is not necessarily one who takes advantage of other people. Or expects people whom they perceive to be "richer" to subsidize their life's expenses. Don't come along for lunch/dinner if you're going always to expect your friends/colleagues to pay your share. This is a meritocracy, not a communist state, hello!
Of course, it's different if your friend/colleague offers to pay for the entire meal on their personal account. Then, it is a case of personal generosity, and not about being a cheapskate who expects others to pay for/discount their meal just because they are richer or more successful.
I don't expect my boss or rich, high-flying friends to pick up the tab for all of our meals just because they earn more than me. That's just really bad manners. And extremely distasteful. With my colleagues or seniors, I genuinely make an effort to pay, and I've actually managed to wrangle the bill from my boss once. With my friends however, we take (almost) equal turns picking up the tab. Or else, we split the bill and round it off. We're okay with such a fluid, informal arrangement because we're close friends, and being close friends, there's no impetus to be a leeching cheapskate.
It's particularly disgusting if for example, a person after owing you money for 5
whole months, requiring 4 reminders for payment, is shockingly
unapologetic, and audaciously GIVES HIMSELF A DISCOUNT by rounding down
the money owed. The awful thing is, you can't say no to the self-given discount
because if you do, then YOU are the one who looks like the cheapskate. If I'd
given everyone the same exact discount the cheapskate did, I'd be
out by at least 30 buckaroos. Granted, it may not be a fortune but if
you think about it, it's still a week's worth of meals at the hawker
centre. I don't understand why is it that everyone else can pay to the last cent, and some people can't. You don't go to a restaurant and just ask them to round down the cost of the meal to the nearest dollar, do you? There's no good reason why the person picking up the tab first has to subsidize someone else's meal.
It all boils down to a lack of manners and lack of respect for other people, which I find abhorrent and disgusting. Yes, I'm pissed as hell. You can be sure I'm never inviting such people for any meals ever again.
As best as I can remember, I've made it a point to repay my share of the meal as soon as I know the amount of my share, without requiring reminders to pay up. I hate owing people money, and get embarrassed, and apologize profusely, if I have to be reminded to make payment.
What about you? How do you conduct yourself when going out with friends and colleagues for meals?
I'm sure everyone also has their personal encounters with such lacking-in-manners people, and I'd love to hear your horror stories. Please share!