Author Topic: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...  (Read 7393 times)

JustTrying

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When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« on: November 20, 2014, 08:48:37 PM »
I work in a relatively small office. One of my colleagues came up with an idea that as a thank you to our lower-income employees (such as receptionists, etc), we should host a party for them. Basically there are about 10 of us higher-ups, and about 15 lower-guys. My colleague wants us to host a party not just for the employees, but also for the families. She would like for the 10 of us to pay for everyone's meals, drinks, the cost of renting a space, etc.

I have no idea how much the event will actually cost, but I've been to other events with my colleagues and there tends to be quite a bit of drinking, expensive food, etc. I believe this will cost $200 or more for all of us "higher-ups." Keep in mind that as a "higher-up" I'm still not rich - I make less than 6-figures, and I live a mustachian lifestyle. I don't really want to participate in this, but since my office is on the small-side, I know that it will look really bad if I don't. (Everyone will know that I refused to participate since there are so few of us).

I feel like I'm a bad guy if I don't participate and give $$, but I really don't want to. I don't mind being generous, but I tend to be very thoughtful with my money, and $200 could do a lot for the charities that I typically donate to, while it will bring a receptionist a pointless alcohol buzz for just one night.

Thoughts? Would you suck it up and pay, or take a stand and not pay?

tofuchampion

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2014, 08:58:47 PM »
Can you suggest a cheaper alternative?  That seems like a lot for an office party...

sheepstache

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2014, 09:28:55 PM »
Are you an owner or partner? The idea that you should transfer money to them via food and drink simply because you have more seems weird to me. If their accepting a lower wage allows the company to profit more, or if the lower wage means people feel they deserve more perks, the party should be paid for by the company. Or how about just giving them bonuses, cash money, for the holidays?

Beric01

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 09:34:42 PM »
What you are paid is your "thank-you" for working. Why can't the higher-ups host a party on the company expense if that is what they want? Or simply pay them more in the first place. This honestly sounds like a really bad company cultural thing - focusing on who makes less or more.

Do you plan to stay here for a long time? Regardless, I would just say that it's "not in your budget" and opt out. This is a "guilt" thing, and nothing less.

JustTrying

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2014, 09:54:49 PM »
Thanks for your replies so far. To clarify, I work for a large non-profit, and my "office" is just a small department within. I'm not an owner or a partner. We don't have any money in our department to host an event.

I do agree that this is a guilt thing. However, I do feel badly for not participating. The colleague who is planning this party is really kind and wants to do something nice for the staff, which is great. It's just that she's not very frugal, so the plans that she is coming up with don't really fit well into my lifestyle. I've been with the company for just a year, and things like this come up continually, but this is the most expensive thing that they've tried to get me to donate to. :(

deborah

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2014, 10:36:04 PM »
Definitely in the minority here - I would pay the $200. It sounds like it's only once a year, and it is a small bleep on the way to FI.

surfhb

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2014, 10:41:25 PM »
Its very out of line for a business to ask for that kind of money from employees

Dan_at_Home

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2014, 11:48:25 PM »
If you work for a small company it sounds like you will work with these people a lot and it is a tight knit group; having good relationships and harmony in a group sounds like that it would be especially important in this type of situation.

I would pay the $200 because the amount of hurt by not paying it sounds like, in the long run, it would harm you more than paying $200 which is a blip on the way to FI.  Those people at your company will probably be covering for you at some point during the year at work or you will need a favor or extra help from them at some point in time. 

Beric01

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2014, 11:58:53 PM »
Thanks for your replies so far. To clarify, I work for a large non-profit, and my "office" is just a small department within. I'm not an owner or a partner. We don't have any money in our department to host an event.

I do agree that this is a guilt thing. However, I do feel badly for not participating. The colleague who is planning this party is really kind and wants to do something nice for the staff, which is great. It's just that she's not very frugal, so the plans that she is coming up with don't really fit well into my lifestyle. I've been with the company for just a year, and things like this come up continually, but this is the most expensive thing that they've tried to get me to donate to. :(

Here's the thing, if you never put your foot down, they're going to assume you're fine with this type of expenditure. How you spend your money is your business. Who knows, maybe you're caring for your elderly parents?

I thought the "ask a manager" website was good on this - there's a few other related postings as well.

EngineerMum

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2014, 02:15:32 AM »
Can you speak to the organiser and explain that it's an expense that isn't in your budget and you can't contribute that much, and give some less extravagant suggestions, like maybe just taking the employees out for lunch (not the families) or have a barbeque in the park for the families (with liquor store booze prices rather than restaurant prices). That would show you are willing, but keep things a bit more reasonable. At the least, it lets her know that such big contributions are not really ok for you.

former player

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2014, 02:44:36 AM »
As you work for a non-profit, I think that gives you the opportunity to say that a party for all the staff is a good idea, but that being unnecessarily lavish seems inappropriate for a non-profit and could send out the wrong message to donors.  For instance, you could suggest that instead of hiring a venue you have the party at your office.  It needs to be for an occasion too, rather than just being random, so given the time of year I would suggest either Christmas or New Year's as the occasion.

I would also suggest that having some of the employees pay for the others looks divisive: it splits the office into "us" and "them".  It would be better if everyone were asked to contribute but that the amount of contribution were set low for the lower-paid employees.  You will also end up with a better party if everyone in the office is engaged in planning and paying for it, rather than half the office assuming what the other half wants.

lakemom

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2014, 05:00:44 AM »
My suggestion would be to have a carry in luncheon for just employees and the "higher level workers" foot the bill for beverages and a main dish (fried chicken, pork loin, turkey...something you can purchase and serve fairly inexpensively) and plates etc.  If everyone else really feels that families should be included then do the same for a dinner that includes families.  My husband worked at a place a few years ago that did the carry in thing several times per year and he LOVED it.  Got to try sooo many different dishes especially ethnic ones. 

Future Lazy

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2014, 07:24:41 AM »
Are you an owner or partner? The idea that you should transfer money to them via food and drink simply because you have more seems weird to me. If their accepting a lower wage allows the company to profit more, or if the lower wage means people feel they deserve more perks, the party should be paid for by the company. Or how about just giving them bonuses, cash money, for the holidays?

+1 This is what my company does.

h2ogal

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2014, 08:44:50 AM »
JustTrying- Can you get in on the planning and influence the party plans?  Then you can pick something fun and creative but inexpensive.   Or offer to provide something instead of cash - for example offer to organize the games, etc.   

Catbert

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2014, 10:33:56 AM »
I think the party idea is a crappy idea.  Could you suggest an alternative? Try to frame it around what the lower paid employees would really like.   For one thing many won't want to spend their personal time at a work function!  Suggest a potluck on company time with the higher ups supplying a Honeybaked ham and door prizes for much less than $200 each.

That said, if you can't change the plans, I think you have to kick in your "share" or you look like a dick.

Kaspian

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2014, 01:07:20 PM »
This honestly sounds like a really bad company cultural thing - focusing on who makes less or more.

I agree with that!  It sounds weird.  Like the king's court inviting the serfs in for a night of celebration. 

Anyway, I'd suck it up.  It's one of those things that's a sunk-costs related to your job.  (Albeit stupider.)  Like when you need to buy a new suit even if you don't like wearing them.  ...Or when my freakin' manager pulls people from our offices around the province for a big meeting and then expects us to sit around with him in the evening drinking in a pub on our own dime.  Not that I dislike pubs (love 'em!), it's just a) Not the company I'd voluntarily keep in a pub and b) He always chooses the most boring chain restaurant/pubs and c) We're expected to drink (therefore spend) more than I ever would on my own (keeping his royal highness the king entertained and in company.)

Spoom

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2014, 02:01:38 PM »
This sort of thing would negatively affect my perception of the work environment.  And I'd hate to be the lower paid employee that gets invited to a function like that... I'd imagine it would be incredibly awkward.

I'd probably kick in my share if it wasn't too much, but I'd probably also start considering alternative employment.

Goldielocks

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2014, 02:23:14 PM »
You definitely need to let the organizer know that budget is a concern of yours, but that you support / don't support the party idea in general.

Let her know what you think is a reasonable amount.  Seems to me that $50 or $75 would be plenty, with a ratio of about 1 "gift giver" to 1.5 "recipients".   At least, that is what I would give for a very generous christmas present to staff in a small knit office with a tradition of gifts from managers. (about $40 per person)

I was with a large firm that also banned any gifts from corporate expenses, so managers had to host the lunch, or drinks at their house, or whatever.   (Sleigh ride with cocktails one year).  This typically worked out to a $20 present, a large poinsettia, and drink / event hosted at a home, community hall, etc..

My favorite present EVER though, was when my managers wife quilted christmas table top runners (24" x 24") for us, together with drinks at their place with my SO. -- there were 5 employees and 1 manager in that group.

Cassie

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2014, 02:31:36 PM »
When I worked for the state we would have a potluck for employees only.  The highest earners would supply all the meat & everyone else would bring a dish to share.  Everyone liked this & had a good time.

Noodle

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2014, 03:08:18 PM »
Years ago, I was a poorly paid non-profit minion when the managers decided to celebrate us with a special breakfast. Which was very kind, but it meant we all had to get to work an hour EARLY at our busiest time of year. What would really have made us feel appreciated would have been for the managers to cover the public face of the organization for an hour or two and let us come to work late (while still getting paid, of course.) Could you suggest something like that?

Beric01

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Re: When being Mustachian makes you feel like a Scrooge...
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2014, 03:10:42 PM »
I'd probably also start considering alternative employment.

This, pretty much. This sounds like a really bad work environment, being focused only on how much each person makes. I'd be looking to get out as soon as I could (and because I'd be planning to leave, I wouldn't bother contributing the $200).