Author Topic: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?  (Read 2827 times)

marina

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Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« on: December 21, 2016, 08:37:05 AM »
The subject is in jest; this is a question about how to communicate with our fellow frugal weirdos when our exact time/money calculus doesn't line up with theirs. The situation:

Us: early-mid 30s couple, 2 young kids, 2 (flexible) fulltime+ jobs, very busy.  We save aggressively and are frugal, but also outsource strategically to spend time on family (e.g. we use daycare, babysitters,  a house cleaner, we buy some convenience foods and cook less than Friends.  This will change when our kids are older and we're also FI!)

Friends: late 30s couple, no kids, 1 partner is FI and works on startups/consulting, other has a FT remote job.

Our friends are great people: our values and interests align and we can talk openly about money, which makes spending time with them easy.    They are probably more frugal than we are because they have more free time, not because they're misers (they recently completed a huge fancy kitchen renovation, and are spending the winter elsewhere away from our cold climate, for example).   We usually get together at our house or theirs to cook/eat dinner, go on a hike nearby, or do something else low-key together.  We help each other out when it's practical: e.g. my husband helped deal with a house issue while they were out of town, and they made us dinner several times after our baby was born.

The question: our friends will sometimes ask for favors that take time we don't really have at the moment, in order to save themselves a few dollars (e.g. a ride somewhere instead of taking a $10 Uber.)  We're positive they would return such a favor if we asked, but at this point, we'd probably rather give them the $10 than spend 30-40 minutes giving the ride.  Giving a ride cuts into work time (we're spending money on childcare and are away from our kids!), or it cuts into precious evening free family/chore time.   These kinds of favors are different from something 'fun' than we can all do together at one of our houses (including kids)... [e.g. another friend once invited the whole family over for a 'work session' to get some house projects done, which was fine].  They're also different from helping out a friend who really has a problem or is in need.

So -- do we say something about it?  This seems like it will sound very rude and selfish.  Since we have somewhat flexible schedules, it's rare that one of us truly *can't* fit in a ride or a favor, just that it will come at the expense of something else.   Also, our friends have mentioned that they're available if we ever need a babysitter in a pinch, and have otherwise made it clear that they would help us out whenever they can.

maricela

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2016, 08:41:42 AM »
You don't abuse your friends regularly to save a few bucks. You need to learn to set limits and say no. And they need to make better choices about when to ask for a ride, etc.


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trollwithamustache

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2016, 08:57:26 AM »
the seriousness of the babysitting offer would for me determine the reasonableness of the ride exchange offer. (not saying I would do it, but its reasonable if they did offer something of value.) So...

Option 1 is to just say no to the ride, and go ahead and plan another Hike with them, since it sounds like you still want to be friends. They are free to test the waters on a change friendship status to include barter and you are free to say you'd prefer to keep it as it is.

It sounds like there is an Option 2 to roll the dice on this babysitting offer. It seems like there could be a fair trade of some rides xxx for some babysitting yyy, depending on how the two of you value each of these things.   

Deals like this never square exactly but can work well if they are regularly squared up in some fashion and you are happy with what you are getting.

I found Option two was much easier when I was single, as there were fewer parties to the negotiation.  With 4 parties to such a deal now, we rarely succeed in sorting this kind of stuff out. What I value one way is different than the Missustroll and vice versa let along the other parties.


SoftwareGoddess

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2016, 09:15:51 AM »
The question: our friends will sometimes ask for favors that take time we don't really have at the moment, in order to save themselves a few dollars (e.g. a ride somewhere instead of taking a $10 Uber.)  We're positive they would return such a favor if we asked, but at this point, we'd probably rather give them the $10 than spend 30-40 minutes giving the ride.  Giving a ride cuts into work time (we're spending money on childcare and are away from our kids!), or it cuts into precious evening free family/chore time.   These kinds of favors are different from something 'fun' than we can all do together at one of our houses (including kids)... [e.g. another friend once invited the whole family over for a 'work session' to get some house projects done, which was fine].  They're also different from helping out a friend who really has a problem or is in need.

So -- do we say something about it?  This seems like it will sound very rude and selfish.  Since we have somewhat flexible schedules, it's rare that one of us truly *can't* fit in a ride or a favor, just that it will come at the expense of something else.   Also, our friends have mentioned that they're available if we ever need a babysitter in a pinch, and have otherwise made it clear that they would help us out whenever they can.

You know your friends better than I, obviously. But if I made such a request, I would want and expect you to refuse if you couldn't or didn't want to agree. The reasons wouldn't be any of my business; I would assume that you are managing your time as you see fit.

TightFistedScot

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2016, 09:29:37 AM »
The question: our friends will sometimes ask for favors that take time we don't really have at the moment, in order to save themselves a few dollars (e.g. a ride somewhere instead of taking a $10 Uber.)  We're positive they would return such a favor if we asked, but at this point, we'd probably rather give them the $10 than spend 30-40 minutes giving the ride.  Giving a ride cuts into work time (we're spending money on childcare and are away from our kids!), or it cuts into precious evening free family/chore time.   These kinds of favors are different from something 'fun' than we can all do together at one of our houses (including kids)... [e.g. another friend once invited the whole family over for a 'work session' to get some house projects done, which was fine].  They're also different from helping out a friend who really has a problem or is in need.

So -- do we say something about it?  This seems like it will sound very rude and selfish.  Since we have somewhat flexible schedules, it's rare that one of us truly *can't* fit in a ride or a favor, just that it will come at the expense of something else.   Also, our friends have mentioned that they're available if we ever need a babysitter in a pinch, and have otherwise made it clear that they would help us out whenever they can.

You know your friends better than I, obviously. But if I made such a request, I would want and expect you to refuse if you couldn't or didn't want to agree. The reasons wouldn't be any of my business; I would assume that you are managing your time as you see fit.

This.

Ultimately, you're responsible for negotiating and being up front about your own boundaries. If you agree to something, it isn't really fair to then be resentful about it. If you aren't able to give up your time then it's on you to politely decline (while also communicating you still really value the friendship). Likewise, it wouldn't be fair of them to expect you to say yes to all of their requests.

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2016, 10:16:00 AM »
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/05/askers-vs-guessers/340891/

This article was extremely enlightening as a "guesser" myself. I typically do not ask anyone for a favor, even close friends, unless I absolutely need the help and feel like the request was reasonable. I often felt compelled to meet other people's requests for help, because I assumed they were really in need and wouldn't have asked unless it was serious. Then I realized many people were "askers" who ask for favors on the off chance you're willing to help, and who will not be offended if you flat out say no.




SU

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2016, 10:37:49 AM »
I recognise that feeling of discomfort when it feels like your and your friends' expectations about reciprocity are getting out of alignment, especially when time and money are involved.

I'm wondering if your friends know what Uber costs? I ask because sometimes I will ask for help because I think that purchasing the service will be too expensive, but when I actually find out the cost of the service I realise it's cheaper than I anticipated. e.g. I was going to ask a friend to drop a parcel off to a free collection point for me. It would have taken her about 30 minutes, but I imagined that the alternative, to pay for shipping myself, would cost about $20. The cost of shipping turned out to be closer to $5. I'm not going to waste my friend's time to save myself $5.

So maybe if you let them take the Uber they will learn something about Uber prices and possibly calibrate their decision about when to impose on your time. I think it's possible to 'teach' them that you might be willing to help them save $200 but you're not willing to help them save $10.

LifeHappens

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2016, 10:43:48 AM »
Speaking for only me, I'm happy to help people out when I am able, but I do expect some type of reciprocity down the line. It doesn't need to be a 1 for 1 thing, but if I'm giving someone a ride, it would be nice to get a home cooked meal or something in exchange. Is it possible your friends are just not reciprocating in a timely fashion (or at all) and you are feeling taken advantage of?

mskyle

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2016, 10:53:11 AM »
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/05/askers-vs-guessers/340891/

This article was extremely enlightening as a "guesser" myself. I typically do not ask anyone for a favor, even close friends, unless I absolutely need the help and feel like the request was reasonable. I often felt compelled to meet other people's requests for help, because I assumed they were really in need and wouldn't have asked unless it was serious. Then I realized many people were "askers" who ask for favors on the off chance you're willing to help, and who will not be offended if you flat out say no.

Reading down the thread I was waiting for someone to say this! I was raised a "guesser" and have become more of an "asker;" given that I still understand the way of the "guesser" I try to phrase my requests as "No pressure, and it's 100% OK if you say no but could you [fulfill request]?"

Probably the best way to respond if you're not sure if you're dealing with an "asker" ask or a "guesser" ask is to have an honest but low-key discussion about it - "Hey, I love hanging out with you guys and I appreciate the favors you do for us but sometimes I feel like you're treating me as a free Uber!"; second best is to push back a bit at the time of the request - "It's a little tough for me because [I'd rather sleep in/I'm really looking forward to getting home to the family/I don't want to cut my work day short], but if you really need me to I can [fulfill request]."

Cativa

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2016, 11:16:07 AM »
I'm so happy I clicked on this!  The "guesser" vs "asker" idea is very enlightening.  I was raised that you simply do NOT ask for help unless you are in dire need.  If someone wants to do something for you, they will offer.  DH's family however ask for things all.the.time.  I was starting to get very pissy about the situation because I never thought about it from the asker's perspective.  I just thought they were taking advantage of us.

Mtngrl

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2016, 11:53:36 AM »
I agree that if you are as good a friends as it sounds like you are, it is perfectly okay to say "No, sorry I can't do that." You don't have to provide an explanation as to why, and your friends will most likely be fine with the answer and go on to find another solution.

As a 'guesser' I found the 'asker' vs. 'guesser' discussion very enlightening!

notactiveanymore

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Re: Have our Mustachian friends crossed the line to 'cheap'?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2016, 12:57:45 PM »
Maybe you ask them to babysit soon and then give them an uber gift card to say thanks?

I think other than that, I might take the same approach I had with a good guy friend in college: answer only on the third text to keep him from getting the wrong idea (again). I'd still look to help out on especially easy days, but I would let it get to a situation where your help is seen as a sure thing. If these things are mostly poor planning, you don't want to enable that by being 100% available at a moment's notice.