Author Topic: How to handle invitations from friends/colleagues to go out for dinner?  (Read 9353 times)


  • Stubble
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Since the start of this month, I've been cracking down on expenses. I've set some budgets and I've hit the $100 budget for going out for dinner.

Now a colleague asks: "hey, want to go out for dinner?" Well yeah, I'd love to, except I already hit my budget limit this month. I find it hard to answer honestly, and I just avoided the issue saying I already had previous commitments.

How do you people answer such questions?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Since you ask, I usually just say "yes," if I want to go, but I'm not as hair-on-fire Mustachian as I'm supposed to be.

Two other possibilities would be to decide to spend more on eating out this month and less on something else (if there's another budget category with some flexibility in it -- obviously the category I'm taking away from is savings, but you may prefer to pick a different one), or, given that June is fewer than 10 days away you could say, "Gee, I'd love to but I'm all tied up until next month.  Is there a time in early June that would work for you?"


  • Handlebar Stache
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I have said "I don't feel like spending money on that right now." I like to be honest without getting into the specifics of how I choose to spend my money. And I don't want my co-workers to think that I never want to eat out with them. I just don't want to eat out as often.


  • Stubble
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Can you only go out to eat when someone asks you out? Sometimes you may get asked out more than once per month but unless it's for an Anniversary you could just save your eat out budget for when you receive an invite.


  • Handlebar Stache
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I don't see why you don't just say that you checked your budget & you need to wait until next month. I say that to people all the time, and no one has ever held it against me. Most people seem to respect that we have a budget that we stick to and tend to say "I wish I had a budget" or something similar.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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I just say I can't.  Generally no one questions it.  I try to make a point to invite people to my house another time, or to invite them to a less expensive restaurant (if they have invited me to spendy place).


  • Handlebar Stache
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It's a great question.  Socializing with your friends is important.  Isolating yourself to save money would be counterproductive.  Therefore, since you are the one in your circle least likely to attend, it's important to consider more frugal alternatives and being the source of them.

For example, you could suggest a cookout instead, or even better, before that invitation arrives.  A lot less money and just as much fun (and you don't have to give up the table either!).  During dinner you can casually point out how much cheaper the steaks and beer are, and gosh, why don't we do this more often?  :) 
I do appreciate all of the honesty is the best policy comments above, I've considered similar things recently as I know I am going down a path that is different from many of my friends.  They aren't consciously setting fire to their twenties, it's just the cultural norm and I am moving outside of the cultural norm.  I have great friends, and since I am the one changing my lifestyle I feel like it is on me to offer good alternatives.


  • Pencil Stache
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Well it's close to the end of the month, why don't you set it up for next month sometime?  If you don't want to get into finances with your coworkers I think that's the best bet. 

Or if you have a more casual relationship just be honest and say you're sticking to a budget but would love to get dinner next month.  Or even suggest coffee or a happy hour.  1-2 drinks can be super cheap at a happy hour.


  • Stubble
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Several friends and I had this same issue.  Part of the way we resolved it was to set up a once a month "girls night out".  Not everyone makes every month and some have dietary restrictions that may prevent them from attending the selected restaurant but because we rotate, we get to see most everyone on a fairly consistent basis. 

I know it's harder to do with the off the cuff invites.  Just make sure you let them know you are interested for future happenings so you don't get left out of the loop.


  • Handlebar Stache
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"I'd love to but restaurant food upsets my stomach.  Why don't you come over to our place instead?"


  • Magnum Stache
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Could you guys go for a walk instead of going out to eat? Picnic? Go out for a less expensive coffee instead?

I realize you are out of money for this month, but how about lunch in the future? For $100, you can have a lot more lunches with people than dinners.

The other day, I wanted to see a friend. I suggested we walk through the city. Normally, I would have suggested coffee. Well, this was even less expensive and we both got great exercise!


  • Pencil Stache
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I would suggest trying to allocate your eating-out budget to be almost exclusively with friends so you can accept. It's not nearly as fun eating by yourself anyways.

If you have to turn them down, explain that money's tight. Don't go into explaining you're frugal or whatever. If you can though, extend them an invitation to something you're hosting in the future (lunch at your place, game night, etc.) so they know it's not just because you don't like them.


  • Bristles
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I like chucklesmcgee's suggestion. I actually separate eating out spending based on whether it is by myself or with friends. If it's with friends, it goes under the Social category. If it's by myself, it's food. That gives me flexibility in my Social budget each month depending on what I do for socializing, whether it's food, movies, concerts in the park, etc. I still try to keep a budget on it and not spend that much out, but as a single person, it really is way easier to hang out with friends out places. Not really drinking helps a lot there.

Also - I find that explaining anything is easier if you go for the lifestyle explanation rather than the money explanation. Good luck!


  • Stubble
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Wow, lots of suggestions here. I just compiled a nice list for myself. The things I especially liked:
- you don't need to say 'no', instead just get it out of another of my budgets
- organize it yourself and skip the expensive and fancy restaurants
- don't order too much drinks and run up the bill that way
- just make something nice yourself

Mentally adding up groceries, I could invite four people over for Dal soup and naan bread, and throw a couple of beers on the table. And then I'm better off both money-wise and fun-wise.

Great suggestions, everyone.