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Moocher Friends Strain The Relationship

My partner is friends with another man, and was best man at his wedding. The couple are quite nice, a bit uptight and anxious but we do see them quite regularly. The problem comes when it is time to pay for things. On three occasions now, we have paid for something and they say they will pay us back. It has never happened. I don’t know if they have simply forgotten that they owe us money, but by now they owe us over $120. My partner and I are not fabulously wealthy, so we would appreciate the money that we are owed. The trouble is, how to ask? Should we simply write it off and never pay for their stuff again? I feel like directly asking for the money is rude, but I have other friend who have the money the very next time we see them. What to do? 1211-16

Write it off and be determined to never pay another cent for this couple.  They clearly have no entertainment budget and rely on you and your partner to fund these things.  It’s a bad habit to have in a relationship.  Your resentment will continue to mount when there is no reciprocity and the inequity in the relationship grows.  This will require some planning on your part.   If you dine at a restaurant with this couple, be sure to tell the waiter prior to ordering that there will be separate checks and say it firmly and loudly enough that the other couple hears it. When the checks come and your friends look piteously at you to please pay theirs as well, you explain that in order to save money (for a house, etc) you have switched to a cash only budget and you are carrying only enough cash to pay for your meals.


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  • Rebecca January 9, 2017, 1:23 am

    It’s not rude to ask for it back, but it is rude to make a habit of not paying, and conveniently “forgetting” to pay it back. If they were struggling financially they had the option not to go out, or to opt for a get-together they could afford.

    I’d not hesitate to mention the next time you talk to them, “Hey, we’re going to need that $120 you owe us for those meals out. Can you send me an e-transfer?” (Or drop off cash, or bring the cash next time they see you). I like e-transfer because it’s fast, done, and over immediately and they can’t “forget” again.

    While you really should ask for the money back, you should also be prepared to never see a dime of it.

    And don’t cover them again. Separate checks, and if they somehow forgot to bring cash or credit cards for a FIFTH time then the “I’m sorry, but it won’t be possible for us to cover it this time” sounds good to me.

    • Amanda H. January 14, 2017, 10:37 pm

      I would add that OP should be prepared for these so-called “friends” to burn bridges upon being told their check won’t be covered by OP anymore. The kind of person who frequently promises to pay a friend back and then conveniently “forgets” is also often the kind to get upset when told that no, they don’t get a free ride anymore.

  • Mags January 9, 2017, 1:28 am

    I think you are unlikely to be paid back. However, I don’t think it’s an etiquette faux pas to ask. I would feel awkward, though. However, you could try asking them to pay for you somewhere. E.g. if you are out and they suggest going to a restaurant, say, “We hadn’t really budgeted for that, but if you pick up the tab, we can call it even from when we paid for the movies for you guys.” If they really intend to pay you back, they will probably go for it, and if they don’t, then they will weasel out of it.

    • RooRoo January 10, 2017, 12:23 am

      Or they will say, “Great!” But when dinner ends, it will be, “Oh, I forgot my credit card” or “Partner, you’ve got the cash! Oh, wait, you don’t?”

  • Aleko January 9, 2017, 2:20 am

    Personally I would be both less defeatist about the $120, and less passive-aggressive toward this couple.

    If DH was best man at their wedding, his relationship with the husband ought surely to be close enough to say privately to him ‘By the way, Bill, things are a bit tight for us this month. It would be a big help if you are able to pay for the last three times we went out with you two’. They may genuinely have forgotten; plenty of people have the facility to forget inconvenient things like owing money, or let the memory mutate into a vague notion that ‘Jim and Myra kindly offered to pay, wasn’t that generous of them’. So the money owing may well be forthcoming with no offence. And even if it never actually appears, they will be aware that no, Jim and Myra are not actually willing to bankroll their dinners for ever and ever, amen. This realisation may come as a jolt, but it won’t come across nearly as unpleasantly as it would in Ehelldame’s suggested separate-checks-and-no-we’re-only-doing-cash scenario, which amounts to an accusation ‘You were going to bilk us again, weren’t you?’

    • Marie January 9, 2017, 4:50 am

      This! I wholeheartedly agree that this is the best option to go for.

      • DGS January 9, 2017, 8:16 am

        This! This, this, this.

    • mark January 9, 2017, 8:57 am

      I like your approach be both forthright and firm. Though I would let them know that in the future you will be doing separate checks for dinner. Just so you don’t have to deal with this in the future. In fact if I did go somewhere with them to eat after this I would likely ask them if they brought enough money before entering the restaurant.

    • Goldie January 9, 2017, 9:31 am

      It is worth trying once. My prediction is that they won’t have that much cash on them, and will promise to pay next time they see “Jim and Myra”. Which, of course, they also won’t do. But at least this will clear the air, and give OP and partner a solid reason to do separate checks next time.

      One thing I would do differently, though, is I would refrain from mentioning things being tight this month. This will open the door for Mr. and Mrs. Mooch to, one, respond with “oh but they can’t be that tight, you bought X and Y and traveled to Z recently” (we’ve all seen eHell letters where people do that), and, two, mooch off OP and partner again another month, when things “are not tight anymore”. OP’s and partner’s finances are none of the Mooches’ concern. They owe OP and partner money, how badly OP and partner need it this month is irrelevant to the fact that they owe money and need to pay back. I would not give them any chances to assume otherwise.

    • ally January 9, 2017, 10:25 am

      Definitely do this, including forming up that polite spine. I’d also suggest only going to outings that you would be ok doing by yourself, and that are also pay in advance.

      For example, even if they agree to pick up the dinner check next time, it’s way too easy for them to forget or “forget” again. Instead do a movie, and ask beforehand if they can cover the tickets as payback for the last time you covered them.

      If it works great! If it doesn’t, say you’re sorry, but your budget can’t cover them anymore, and either leave our watch the movie by yourselves. Just make sure it’s one you want to see!

      I like this way since you’re nicely but firmly laying out you’re expectations

    • Kat January 9, 2017, 2:24 pm

      Yep, I’m a big fan of just being direct and clear about what you need. It’s genuinely not a big deal: “Hey, I’m going to need that $120 we lent you for X, Y, and Z. When do you think you can get that to us?” It’s just a question, no need to assume motives, it’s not fraught unless you decide it is. A good friendship can easily withstand this level of honesty. (And if for some reason they did get upset that you asked, that’s actually really valuable information to have about their attitude toward your friendship, and you can adjust your expectations accordingly.)

      So many problems could be resolved just by saying what you need instead of expecting people to guess. I’m bad at guessing; getting actual information is a lot more efficient.

      • livvy17 January 11, 2017, 11:00 am

        yes, agreed. This happens all the time with my good friends and I…They don’t have any problem with asking me – “can you send me that $100 you owe me when you get a chance?” And vice versa.
        Better to be forthright an honest, and give them the opportunity to correct their oversight.

        Buuuut…it’s not a bad idea to protect yourself either – with seperate checks as mentioned before, etc. If you drive together to the venue, you could also say, “Do you need us to stop at an ATM for you?” (or on the way home)

        Better to be honest and open than to poison a friendship with resentment.

  • Sel January 9, 2017, 4:56 am

    Have you asked for the money directly? Sometimes people need the reminder. I know I do when someone pays for something for me. And yes, it’s not a nice position to put others in, to have to ask you for money. But the other side of it is that if I think my balance is in arrears, the next time I’m out, I ask “I’ve forgotten; did you pay last time, or did I?” And then I offer to get it (or not, depending on who’s up).

    Mind you, I am an “Ask” person from an “Ask” culture and it’s perfectly okay to ask a question about money owed rather than to politely wait for them to acknowledge the debt. This will seem exceptionally impolite in “Guess” cultures (which I think is the dominant culture in E-Hell).

    If you’ve asked for the money, and they’ve put you off, then the next time you see them, ask up-front – when booking the time/date – whether they’ll pay for you this time since you paid for them before. Yes, you might have to hold it as a stick above their heads: “this relationship is going to become bitter if you don’t cough up what you owe” – and from your words, that’s the direction the relationship is going.

    And then if they refuse to pay up or acknowledge the debt, then you might have to pick things to do that don’t involve money – or involve smaller amounts. Going sightseeing, for instance, or trailwalking, or picnicking where you bring your own foods.

    No reason to cut the relationship off; just be aware that they are going to be cheapskate anytime money is involved, and reduce the potential for aggravation in the friendship.

  • Aleko January 9, 2017, 5:45 am

    Just to add:

    It’s actually an advantage for the OP that the sum is quite substantial; nobody could call it petty or unreasonable to want repayment of a debt of more than $120. Far worse is the kind of friend who persistently fails to take their turn to buy drinks, or always lets you pick up the bill for coffee and cake. It’s only small bits of money, so you feel petty for being irked by it, and know you would look and sound petty if you called them on it. But you can’t help but notice each time that you’re being mooched off, just a bit, once again; and that really does kill friendship. If OP values this friendship at all, he should clear the air.

    • SianMcClay January 9, 2017, 11:33 am

      wouldn’t likely result in a tallying of three added events and then a request for the exact amount back.

      Were there tips I agree it would be best to ask for the husband to ask for the cash back from his friend, before another “event” happens. If anyone is going to ask for the money back at all.
      What if this couple actually comes without enough money to pay for whatever it is? Do you leave them to deal with explaining to the venue that they can’t pay for their portion of the meal, or whatever?

      Call me sexist, if you will. (I’m not, but I’m sure someone will), but my experience with men (yes, in general) is that they will not request money owed in the way the money is owed in this story. If a friend asks for a substantial cash loan, yes, they’ll ask for the money back, but “we’ll pay you back” involved? Was there a consensus on how much the tip would be if there would be a literal “paying back”?

      And didn’t the OP and husband get themselves in this situation? Why, after not receiving payback for the first event, did then then pay for another one? How could the couple getting a freebee the second time not remember the first? Even if there is an explanation of why the second event was also funded by OP and DH, why on earth a third? And again, how could they have forgotten to payback the first two events when getting a third one for free?

      My advice to the OP would be, stop paying for the couple continuously, not saying anything about it and then waiting for some sort of payback. The next time you all plan an outing together say “Yes, that sounds like fun, don’t forget it’s your turn to treat, we got you the last three times.”

      Also, how do the adjectives “uptight and anxious” relate to the story?

      • SianMcClay January 9, 2017, 11:51 am

        Ugh, my post got all mashed up! And I don’t know how to fix it. And I thought I was great at copy and paste. Sorry.

      • Tracy W January 10, 2017, 1:07 am

        My guess is that they got themselves in this situation because they were expecting people to pay them back. There’s a thing called “typical mind fallacy” – we tend to believe that other people think like us. So if you’re a person who would pay your friends back, the tendency is to try to explain not paying in terms that make sense to you. Which is often something like “Oh they just forgot to pay us back” or “they’ll get the bill next time they’re in the money”, because of course people value repaying old friends.

        From this point of view, only taking three rounds to learn is quite fast.

        (Note: this fallacy is only a tendency. Not everyone suffers from it all the time.)

  • Squashedfrog January 9, 2017, 5:48 am

    My dh has a friend that would always promise to pay people back for various sports tickets when he and others group ordered them then forget his payment when they arrived at the game.

    Two years ago, the gang started to tell everyone to pay the money up front when the tickets were bought (so as not to single him out) he suddenly stopped attending.

    Funny that.

    • Jared Bascomb January 10, 2017, 9:23 pm

      Been on the receiving end of that a few too many times. I finally learned to always get the money up front.

      • NostalgicGal January 12, 2017, 3:37 pm

        I was with a group of two other friends and one friend’s sister; to go to concerts. One of us had direct access to the three different ticket sales outlets available for anything that came along. If the tickets would be with my access, I would buy the four, if one of the others had it, they would buy. We would then pay whoever held the tab. We also had the agreement that you could opt out at the call time (when the tickets would be bought) and thus be OUT and not pay, even if it was your access (one time I had a conflict but I still bought the three tickets for the others and was paid). We also had it stated up front, if you don’t pay we will scalp your ticket and you will be OUT forever. Worked well, since we had it all plain and up front. No mooch, no hassle.

  • Margo January 9, 2017, 6:21 am

    It isn’t rude to ask for it back. I would suggest that you do so in a way which implues that they have simply overlooked it and that they will be anxious to recitify the error as soon as possible.

    As your huisband seems to be the one who is closer to them, I’d suggest that he appraoch them – I’d start with a casual “Hi [Name], I’ve been meaning to remind you, you never got around to repaying us for [x, y, and z] – I’m sure it’s just an oversight – I’ll dig out the receipt and confirm the amount for you” and then follow up with a tect or email saying “following on from our chat – the amouns we lent you were $x for x, $y for y and $z for z, so the total is $120 – our bank details are xxxxx / paypal is xxxxx / please let me have a cheque or chas by [date]

    That way, you are making the request politely, giving them a face-saving ‘out’ by assuming it is an oversight and not an attempt to mooch off you, and making sure that they don’t have a further excuse not topay by giving them written details of what is owed.

    And whether ornotthey pay up, in future, don’t pay. Feel free to suggest, next time that you go out, they they pay, ask servers in advance for separate bills and if they ask you to pay, smile and say “unfortunately, we can’t afford to pay for you this time – but as you’ve riased the subject,can you let us know when you’ll be paying us back for the previous times? I don’t know whether you relasie but you owe us over $120 at the moment”

    • Mustard January 9, 2017, 7:30 am

      As Margo says, but without the ‘this time’ on the end of ‘We can’t afford to pay for you…’

  • lkb January 9, 2017, 6:52 am

    I disagree with dear Admin on this one. While it’s probably unlikely the OP will be repaid, there’s no reason to be a pushover about it.

    Don’t wait until you’re at the restaurant with this couple, OP, when you’re making arrangements for the next get together use Aleko’s wording (above).

    • Dee January 9, 2017, 10:22 am

      I agree, Ikb, OP shouldn’t write off the money just yet. When the other couple mentions doing something expensive again, then OP and hubby can agree and say, “We are a bit tight for money, though, so we’ll let you pay this one and get a good chunk of that debt out of the way at the same time”. If the couple squirms and hems and haws then OP will know two things: 1 – the couple likely intended to mooch again, and 2 – they also likely never intended to pay back the money they owe. Knowing this would make a big difference in the friendship, as it should.

      I wonder why OP and hubby let this go on this long, though. Why wouldn’t they be prepared the second time around, as in not bringing more money than their own bill would be? It’s good to help a friend out in times of need but there is no “need” here, only greed. So why encourage that to the extent it becomes a problem?

  • Galatae January 9, 2017, 7:54 am

    Is there a chance your partner owes his friend money too? I’d clarify with your partner before pursuing anything.

    • Lerah99 January 9, 2017, 9:30 am


      I had a girlfriend who constantly bet on sports with her friends, and I knew nothing about it.

      So we’d go out with a couple we knew (I’ll call them Beth and John) and we’d pay for dinner this time and they’d say they’d pay next time.

      But what was really happening was my girlfriend would then bet on the sports games with John saying “Hey, if you win, you don’t have to pay us back for dinner and if I win you give me double the cost of dinner (to cover dinner + her winning).”

      At the time my girlfriend was between jobs. So basically she’d found a way to keep betting but with my money. And when she won the bets, the guy gave her cash. So we were even again in his eyes.

      I was getting really mad at our friends because we ended up picking up the check like 6 times in a row for dinner.

      It wasn’t until I said something to Beth about “I’d love to go to dinner, but would you guys be able to pick up the check this time?” that I found out about the betting and the fact that my girlfriend actually owed John like 4 more dinners at that point.

      I settled up with John in cash and that was the end of my relationship with that girlfriend. (There were other problems in the relationship, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.)

      Luckily John and Beth and I are still friends. And we go the separate checks route when we meet for dinner these days.

    • BellyJean January 9, 2017, 10:11 am

      Oh, that’s an aspect I hadn’t even thought of! Thanks, Galatae.

    • CW January 9, 2017, 9:09 pm

      I thought about this too. One of my best friend’s and I owe each other so many lunches/dinners/coffees/box of whatevers that it’s easier for us just to swap paying occasionally and call it even. She grabbed the breakfast bill and I’d snag the 3 random things she needed at the grocery store. We’ve been friends 20+ years, it just made it easier to stop keeping track of the exact dollar amounts.

  • Goldie January 9, 2017, 9:35 am

    I can be a bit uptight and anxious at times, and know people who are as well. I find it incredibly hard to imagine an uptight and anxious person forgetting to bring any form of payment with them when going out to dinner, and then forgetting to pay their friends back, and doing it not once, but multiple times. I’ll bet money that they are well aware of the fact that they owe the $120+. They didn’t forget.

  • Susan. Haverland January 9, 2017, 10:21 am

    I do think you could say. Nicely , hey I need you to pay me back on Friday, I have my bill to pay . Could I stop over on my way to xxxxx . I agree only bring
    Enough cash for you . Never lend them money again or lose the friendship. Go ask for your money. They said I will pay you back

    I i

  • stacey January 9, 2017, 11:06 am

    It is neither rude nor indelicate to ask for money that you are owed. If they stutter, stammer or dispute the debt, inform them that you expect to be paid immediately. In order for one to be considered a friend ( as opposed to a mooch or fraudster), one must be prepared to keep one’s word. They’ve indicated that they will pay you and you should be forthcoming about helping them to realize that you expect them to make good on this debt. For future reference, you might want to reconsider socializing with them on any terms since they don’t seem inclined to hold up their end.

  • Lisa January 9, 2017, 11:14 am

    I disagree with Admin. Either say something TO them or not at all. Loudly asking for separate checks is passive aggressive.

    • Emmy January 12, 2017, 12:14 pm

      I agree and asking for separate checks on the spot can backfire. If the couple was expecting you to pick up their bill again, they may begin to loudly protest in the restaurant and cause a scene or may decide they can’t eat out after all. I would rather be upfront about expectations prior to meeting again so they can be prepared and know that my picking up the bill is not the status quo. There is nothing rude about bringing it up that they owe you money. If them hem and haw or if they have an excuse of why they can’t pony up, I would avoid all outings that cost money.

  • Ashley January 9, 2017, 11:35 am

    I’m of two minds on this…

    I see other people commenting “Well if he was best man at their wedding then their relationship should be close enough for telling him to pay it back…” which I’m inclined to agree with.

    However, we also don’t know what has happened since that couple got married, are they STILL that close?

    Is there something else going on that this couple isn’t telling anyone?

    Don’t get me wrong here, obviously they should NOT keep relying on other people to pay their way, and they COULD just stay home, but my point is, maybe these two couples aren’t as close as they once were and now this is the result.

    So while yes, it would be great if OP’s husband could quietly say “Hey you guys owe us money, what can we do about this?”, their relationship might have gotten to the point where Admin’s advice would be correct.

    OP needs to discuss it with her husband, establish where the relationship is, and then go from there.

  • lnelson1218 January 9, 2017, 11:40 am

    If they said that they would pay you back. I don’t see a problem with a reminder. That being said, I bet that you probably won’t see the money.

    Next time you do go out. I also don’t see a problem with asking for separate checks and if the other couple asks about you floating them again, politely point out given the fact that they currently owe you $120, you don’t feel comfortable lending them more….

  • jokergirl129 January 9, 2017, 11:43 am

    Since your husband seems to be closer to the couple I would ask him to talk to his friend about the money. As others have suggested ask in a why to make it seem like it was an oversight on the couple’s part. After all if you’re lucky maybe they really did forget about owing you money and this would be a way to remind them of it without accusing them of mooching off of you. And if they really are moochers then making them believe you think it’s a simple oversight will make things a bit easier to talk about without them immediately getting angry.

    Either way tell them that they owe you the $120 and give them options as to how to pay it back (cash, check or paypal.) You may not see that money again (though I hope you do get it back) but at least you actually asked for it back without waiting for them to offer it back. After this make it clear that if you guys go out together again as a group that you will not be paying for them this time. If you go out to eat it’ll be separate checks for everyone and if they look/ask you to pay their share make it clear you and your husband only have enough to pay for your meals and not theirs. But don’t wait to do this at the restaurant. Make it clear in advance how it’s going to be done and don’t back out of it.

  • Harry January 9, 2017, 11:55 am

    I never loan money. If I give someone money, or pay for something, that’s where it ends. To expect to be paid back only leads to frustration and dashed expectations.

    • stacey January 9, 2017, 10:32 pm

      This is one way to stay out of difficulties, definitely! But I’d be miffed to have to dun anyone over a debt they’ve promised to pay.

    • Jared Bascomb January 10, 2017, 9:27 pm

      Following Polonius’ advice to Laertes is always good (even though Polonius is a major windbag): “Neither a borrower nor a lender be . . .”

  • Cat2 January 9, 2017, 12:11 pm

    I would call or e-mail and just say “Hey, just checking in – do you have an idea when you’ll be able to pay back the money we loaned you the last few times we were out?” and explain that you’re working to balance your budget better and trying to account for everything. Which also lets you give them a head’s up before you go out again to say “For our budget tracking, we prefer to ask for separate checks now. I hope you don’t mind.” when making the plans, rather than having it “sprung” on them at the last minute. Which if they are or aren’t planning to ask you for another loan could make life pretty awkward with the implications.

    I would only go with the last minute route with people that I truly didn’t care if they felt awkward about it and was basically defending myself for being “forced into” something by people I “had” to see for one reason or another. I wouldn’t count good friends in that category and I would be careful to try and help them save face while driving across the point that I am out of the loans business with them. So that we can continue to see and enjoy each other’s company.

  • Jd January 9, 2017, 12:45 pm

    This is one of those things that irks me so much. One of the things I do if someone repeatedly needs me to cover a bill is to stop going out with him or her. And I had to face down a guy who always said he left his wallet in the car when we were all contributing to a dinner for our group and tell him it was time to go get the wallet and I would wait for him to bring it in. Yes I would ask. And I would refuse to cover for them again by politely saying I’m sorry but I can’t.

  • kgg January 9, 2017, 1:21 pm

    It’s not rude to directly ask for the money. It’s your money – and I honestly think if they were just plain forgetful the first time, the SECOND time you covered their food/entertainment would have prompted them to go, “Oh, my goodness, we still owe you!” Forget the third time. This is a pattern of behavior. Your friends are taking advantage.

    If you are uncomfortable asking for the money, do as the admin said and bring cash to every event/restaurant that you and your partner go to with them. That way you’re not holding a credit card with unlimited funds, and you can always say “Sorry, we only have enough to cover us.” If they’re not holding cash and the place only takes cash, there are ATMs EVERYWHERE. You are not their ATM.

    OP, please give an update and tell us what happened!

  • Miriam January 9, 2017, 2:24 pm

    With the two family moochers we have, relatives started asking at the leaving the house stage* [if travelling together] or meeting up stage: “have you remembered your wallet this time?”, and when mooch replied [after the obligatory pocket patting]: “no”, relative would say “that’s a shame, we only have enough cash on us for our needs. We’ll catch up some other time then.” Doing it before sitting down makes it easier to avoid paying the mooch’s bill…

    * That mooch only needed asking 6 or 7 times before he realised that the subs had stopped. The other was irredeemable, but he’s in a home now, so no-one needs to worry any longer. :-\

  • JJ January 9, 2017, 3:05 pm

    While it’s good to stand up for yourself and ask for the money back truth be told I don’t think this couple sounds like they will pay it back. I could be wrong maybe they did genuinely forget which they could have. Maybe they didn’t think the cash was a big deal and thought it was just friends being friends. Or maybe they just truly know you haven’t said anything so they figured it would be brought up when needed if it bothers you guys. Some people just think it’s a friend thing to pay for each other except that they have not clearly paid for anything for you guys so you’d think sooner or later they might get the hint a bit to take their turn for a change.

    I agree with others on here: stop buying or paying anything for them for now. In restaurants clearly establish separate bills for you and your spouse and them. If they want to go the movies or a coffee place and they pull the oh no left my cash or wallet at home I’d just be like oh that’s unfortunate I have a granola bar snack in my bag if you want one for free. Here’s a bottle of water I brought with me since you don’t have any money. Just really establish a firm financial budget and if they look at you expectantly to pay their bit just stand your ground and say, “I’m sorry but we are really strict with our finances right now and don’t have any extra in the budget. We can only pay for our dinner/movie ticket etc right now. Do you guys need to find a bank machine because we can stay in the restaurant while one of you goes to the bank machine across the street if you want”. Maybe if you don’t buy them anything or cover their bill they will be forced to get the hint and step it up.

  • Tim Heller January 9, 2017, 3:53 pm

    If they are true friends one should be able to discuss this issue with them. And by their reaction you will know the truth! ie, “they forgot”, “they can’t” or “they won’t” and “‘I’ll pay you on Friday! you will put them on the spot but I wouldn’t wait till you are out to eat next time to tell them, they might walk out on the tab

  • ketchup January 9, 2017, 3:54 pm

    I don’t agree with Admin. Not everyone can or wants to lose that money. It’s not just a few dollars. I’d pursue it, politely but firmly.
    I also don’t see why asking for your money is rude? You’re helping someone pay off a debt, right? And besides, they might have forgotten.

  • Coraline January 9, 2017, 5:34 pm

    What about making a jokey reminder of the debt the next time you are setting up an outing?

    Like this –

    “Hey, you guys still up for ski-ball and dinner at Dave&Buster’s? Don’t forget… it’s your turn to cover us since we picked up the tab for you guys the last three times.”

    How they respond to something like that should tell you a lot….

  • Garden Gal January 9, 2017, 7:07 pm

    I also disagree with Admin. Either you or your husband should ask politely for the money the next time you’re arranging plans with them, and ask them to bring the full amount to that event. Once they agree to do that, you should also say, “It’ll be simpler if we just get separate checks in the future.” Their response will tell you a lot about whether you want to keep being friends with them. I’m very forgetful, so I can easily see myself forgetting to repay someone once, maybe even twice if they don’t remind me, but three times? Naw, that’s more than forgetful.

    Maybe they’re embarrassed that they can’t pay back the full amount at one go, so you could offer to have them pay $60 each time for the next two times. If they can’t manage that, and don’t have a good suggestion for how they can pay you back, I’d have to evaluate whether you want to remain friends.

  • Cat January 9, 2017, 8:10 pm

    I don’t think you should wait until you get to a restaurant to say something. I think you should discuss it when you are making plans with this couple. “I’d love to go out this weekend, but we’ve been paying a lot lately and can’t keep it up. We’re going to need to split checks from here on out.” With my friends, that’d be all the reminder they need to either reimburse or treat me for the next several outings.

    • o_gal January 10, 2017, 2:18 pm

      I like this approach because it accomplishes a number of things. First, it lets them know that you have noticed that they are ditching the check. Second it lets them know that it’s been a lot of money. Third, it tells them that you’re now finding it a burden. Fourth, it lets them know that they aren’t going to get away with it anymore. All while being nice and pleasant and polite. But don’t be surprised if your friendship starts to cool off from their end.

  • SadieMae January 9, 2017, 11:56 pm

    If your husband was close enough friends to be this guy’s best man, surely he’s close enough to say ahead of your next double date, “Hey, buddy, we’ve covered all your costs the last three times we’ve gone out together, to the tune of $120. So you two can foot the bill for dinners and movies until we’re flush. Sound good?” If the friend tries to squirm out of it at that point, I wouldn’t go out with them any more. Not because they might be broke, but because they shouldn’t have taken advantage of you by going to restaurants, etc., with you when they knew they couldn’t afford to pay you back. You’ll have to kiss your $120 goodbye, sadly, but…lesson learned.

    If he says yes, but on the next outing they say they don’t have money and can’t pay, you two pay for your own meals (even if you didn’t get separate checks, your waiter can split the ticket after – you can always tip him a little extra to make up for the extra work it takes), and leave. They don’t have the money for their meals? Their problem. (And for me, that would be the end of the friendship.)

  • AJ January 10, 2017, 12:31 am

    One thing I learnt about moochers over the years is that when you stop them mooching off you, they’ll move on to the next person to mooch off. Moochers are only friends so long as they can mooch. The LW needs to find whether these people are friends or moochers. Asking for the money will answer that question.

  • Devin January 10, 2017, 8:07 am

    I think the response depends on the timeline of these past IOUs. Was it 3 times over 10 years? Then admins advice is probably the best. Was it each of the last 3 times you went out recently? Then remind them of the IOU.
    I’d also check with your hubs to make sure that the friend wasnt paying him back at some other time you weren’t present, or there isn’t some arrangement they have.

    • livvy17 January 11, 2017, 11:12 am

      Good points.

  • Just4Kicks January 10, 2017, 10:00 am

    Years ago, in my early twenties, I was screwed over royally by a man I was dating.
    I hadn’t spoken to him in over a year when I ran into him at my sales job.
    He said he’d been doing a lot of “soul searching” where I was concerned and could we maybe meet up for dinner some night.
    I said no to dinner, but I would hear him out over drinks.
    We met at Outbacks, and hashed out our problems.
    We wished each other well, and I asked for the check.
    When the bill comes, I take out cash for my cocktails and look expectantly at him for his half.
    He turns bright red and says he didn’t bring any money with him!!!
    What the HELL?!?
    I took out my credit card and handed it to the bartender and left without a word after he handed me my slip back.
    It was HIS idea to meet for drinks and he didn’t bring any money….I was beyond furious and never spoke to him again.
    Why would you invite someone out and expect the other person to pay?!?

    • AJ January 10, 2017, 11:14 pm

      I wouldn’t have paid for him. But that’s me! 🙂

      • Just4Kicks January 11, 2017, 4:52 am

        I seriously considered doing that, but the place was packed and I was friendly with the bartender, I didn’t want to cause him any grief.

  • Anonymous January 10, 2017, 10:15 am

    I’d take a different approach, because I’ve been the broke friend; however, I don’t ask people to pay for things for me–I suggest activities that I can afford instead, and sometimes, that means free activities. So, I’d get ahead of the problem. The next time Mary and Murgatroid Moocherson suggest going out for dinner, I’d say something like, “Actually, you two seem to have been forgetting your wallets a lot/experiencing some financial strain, so let’s do XYZ instead,” with XYZ being cheap or free. It could be a dinner at whichever couple’s house, with both couples contributing (for example, when I was in university, I had friends who lived in the apartment across the hall from mine, and we’d often have “collaborative casserole” nights, where we’d make a big casserole out of combined ingredients that we had, and then eat it together while we watched a movie), a picnic in the park if it’s nice out, ice skating at an outdoor rink, a visit to an art gallery, a free event run by the city, or really, anything at all that doesn’t involve the “cheque dance” at the end of a restaurant meal.

    The “cheque dance” is especially hard, because “social convention” dictates that people are supposed to grab for the cheque, as if they WANT to pay for everyone, to be “nice.” So, yeah, I’d speak up, but I wouldn’t put these people in the same position again–I’d make it out like I didn’t want to embarrass them anymore, because it IS embarrassing to forget your wallet at a restaurant and have to rely on the kindness of your dining companions……and if it’s not embarrassing for the Moochersons, it should be. I wouldn’t make this out like they’re doing it maliciously; I’d just treat it as a matter of fact. Most people have different friends that they do different things with, or different places they go for different reasons. For example, you wouldn’t go to the hardware store if you wanted to buy a sweater, or to a clothing store if you wanted to buy a hammer. So, likewise, if you want to go out on a “double date” at a restaurant, with both couples paying their way, don’t go with the Moochersons.

  • abby January 10, 2017, 11:43 am

    “On three occasions now, we have paid for something and they say they will pay us back.”

    I’m curious how this came about. Did they directly ask you to cover their portion of the bill, with the promise you would be paid back? Did they tell you that they couldn’t go somewhere because they were broke, and you offered to spot them the money with the expectation that you would be reimbursed later? Did you offer to cover the tab, and they insincerely promised to return the favor at some point down the road? (my friend is always broke, so every time we meet up, I pay the tab. She always says, let’s go out soon and I’ll pay, but I never meet up with her thinking this is going to happen. She hasn’t footed the bill for many years now. I don’t really mind though, she’s a good friend, just bad with money).

    Regardless, I think it’s okay to ask, although I think it should come from your husband, as this is his friend. If he doesn’t want to ask, then I think you write off the money.

    Going out with them again is tricky. If they want to meet up for dinner, for example, and you loudly say, separate checks, are you prepared for them to order, eat, and then look through their purse or wallet and have “forgotten” their credit card? Or “misplaced” the cash they swear was there when they left their house? Not saying they will do this, but it’s definitely a possibility.

    • Anonymous January 10, 2017, 8:45 pm

      Yeah, see, that’s why I suggested not eating out with this couple anymore, and doing cheap or free activities with them instead. After all, you can say you won’t pay for them, but what’s going to happen when they don’t have the money on them? I can see this starting a cycle of, OP and Partner set a boundary, the Moochersons don’t respect it, resentment builds, and the friendship ends…….or maybe it continues, under a dark cloud of unspoken resentment. So, that’s why I think a better approach would be to cut off a suggestion of dinner out with a counter-suggestion of, say, make-your-own tacos and Netflix, or ice skating and hot chocolate, or a free outdoor film in the summer if your city does that (mine does). That way, you can enjoy spending time together, without having to worry about who’s financing the outings, and who owes who money.

  • Gabriele January 10, 2017, 12:06 pm

    Oh what memories this discussion has brought back. Someone in a church I used to go to would use his church commitments (ordained) for not having money to join a group for lunch so someone would always offer to pay. These were always get- togethers at casual places so one could just have a coffee or such (less than $3) but if no one offered to buy lunch, sorry, he couldn’t go. He seemed a kind, caring person but over time his kindness and caring seemed a bit influenced by how generous a person (or couple or group) were to him.
    Having been in the position of not having much money and enjoyed the hospitality of a generous friend (again, casual place) when I had money, or could do something that person wanted or needed I would try to repay in kind or in other ways. I could understand how it felt to not have money so I tended to be more generous when I saw others in what I’d seen as ‘my situation’.
    I wasn’t always interested in either the venue (a restaurant I didn’t like) or some of the people involved so I didn’t see or hear that much about what he was doing.
    During coffee time after church a long time member gave him a package with flea treatment for his cats and gave him the bill. He looked a bit shocked and she noticed it. She said “you asked me to get the prescription the next time I went to my vet so you wouldn’t have to pay for an office visit. The Rx is $____”. He still seemed a little shocked (and the woman was on disability, so not flush) and finally told her he didn’t bring a checkbook with him and he’d find a way to pay her the next time he saw her. I think she realized what he had expected but she wasn’t going to indulge him, so she just said, “Please do, you know I’m on a limited budget myself”.
    Everyone (at least a half dozen people) saw all this and no one offered to load him the money which told me a great deal.
    What really ended peoples’ generosity was when he later complained that he’d just gotten back from Burning Man and it cost so much he didn’t know how he was going to get through the next month.
    I heard later that when his income was reduced he was almost begging people to finance his trip to the next Burning Man because if he couldn’t go he didn’t know what he’d do.
    He didn’t go.
    Over time I heard more and more stories about how he needed this and that and expected friends to help him out and ended up with fewer and fewer friends.
    Like someone else wrote, if someone needs a small sum, I prefer to give it, not loan it, but with the understanding it is a one time thing.

    • Kay January 11, 2017, 4:32 am

      Burning Man is an absolute fortune!!! Wow.

      • NostalgicGal January 14, 2017, 12:27 am

        Someone staying with me to get back on their feet, ended up staying far too long and wasn’t contributing like they were supposed to. I really couldn’t afford to support them either, but they racked up four digits plus. THEN a convention came up. They used to live next to it, it was now going to involve airfare and more and they happily planned going. Cost in excess of how much they owed me. They didn’t like when I told them if they didn’t pay me first, if they left I would legally have everything they left behind impounded for the debt and sell it off. They lied and said there was a dealer room there and if I would send them they would sell stuff for me. I asked others and no dealer room. So they tried to get me to pay for them to go. I informed them I asked XXX and that person told me there was never a dealer room at that one. Oh. They ended up not going. I don’t think they ever afforded going to that one again, either. And yes I did finally get paid back and got them out from under my roof.

    • livvy17 January 11, 2017, 11:26 am

      Such horrible behavior, and seems worse to me in a clergyman. My own grandfather was a minister, and my dad tells stories about how they would have nothing on the dinner table some nights because Grandpa had given his meager salary to someone else in need. My Dad had issues with his Dad’s priorities, but his piety and service to his beliefs was absolute. This guy sounds like the exact opposite.

      • stacey January 13, 2017, 4:45 pm

        I’m with your dad! Giving what you cannot afford in an emergency is understandable, even laudable. But leaving your responsibilities to minor children unfulfilled in order to underwrite this generosity isn’t.

  • Cicero January 10, 2017, 9:36 pm

    I think you should ask for it back. Directly. No beating around the bush. No need to hide behind “things are a bit tight” or “we’ve got bills to pay”. $120, unless you’re a bazillionaire is not a small amount.

    Ask directly, and give them options, no yes / no answers . Like “would you like to drop it off today or I’ll be on your side of town on Wed, can I drop by after 6, which works for you?”

  • Kay January 11, 2017, 4:29 am

    I’m finding now it’s easier to go separate checks to avoid confusion or bad feelings. I found that my friends were terrible tippers and I would often be way overpaying to make up for their shortcomings. It wasn’t fair. Often now, especially in large groups, I will skip dinner all together and meet for drinks afterwards. It’s great for my I told you so to come out seeing people fighting over the check. This past summer I skipped dinner at a fancy overpriced restaurant with a large group in favor of having a nice dinner with my husband, and we met them afterwards for drinks. As usual, there was fighting amongst the group and one girl ran up over 100 dollars and started crying because she had no money. Yes, these are adults…
    Also if I do pay for a friend, I don’t expect that money to be returned. I do this only with very close friends.

    • Devin January 12, 2017, 2:09 pm

      Most modern point of sale machines (registers) have made it easier for restaurants to accommodate separate checks, which makes diving up the bill so much easier. If you tell the server at the begining “me and my partner on one and that couple on a second” most can quickly ring up the orders in tandem so everyone gets their food together but no one person is stuck doing math at the end (aka leaving it open to oh you get us now and we’ll get you later/never)

  • Vicki January 11, 2017, 7:29 pm

    Another approach, if you still want to see them but are worried they’ll try to stick you with the bill again, is to go to the sort of casual restaurant where everyone orders separately and pays for their food at the counter before being served.

    This approach has the advantage of being less dependent on the weather and time of year than the very low cost options other people have suggested. I wouldn’t schedule a picnic here in Massachusetts right now, but places like Panera are open year-round.

  • Redblues January 12, 2017, 10:04 am

    They have no intention of paying you, and don’t expect you to ask. Do the unexpected. Do not frame it as a question, but rather a non-negotiable expectation. Since your partner is the original friend, your partner should handle it. A simple phone call is fine, but a face-to-face meeting is better, and more likely to be effective. “Weasel, you still owe us $120. We need it by this date.” Do not offer excuses (We’re short this week, we had an emergency, the rent is due…) You do not owe them an explanation for why you need your money. It’s your money. They owe it to you. Any excuses only invite negotiation. It is not a negotiation, or a request. It is their obligation. If your partner knows how and when the friend gets paid, have the conversation a day or two ahead of payday, and give a date less than a week after pay day. It would be even better if the 4 of you have already scheduled an outing within that time period, because you know they have, or are pretending to have, the money for said outing. You may not get the money if you ask, but you will definitely never get it without asking. In the future, be sure and ask ahead of time for separate checks. And if, at the end of a meal, they still claim to have “forgotten” their wallets (both of them?!) shrug. Do not lie or make excuses. Just shrug, and let them handle it. Let them be embarrassed. My guess is that one of them will “suddenly” remember an emergency stash of cash, or find a hidden credit card. If not, let them deal with the manager. Make sure that the two of you only have enough cash to pay for your own meals, and no credit cards with you, so that they can’t weasel it out of you that way. In the future, that would be a good rule to follow whenever you are with them. Bring cash, and only enough for the two of you.
    One more thing. It would be good for your partner to rehearse the conversation ahead of time with you. You can play Weasel, and use his avoidance techniques. Your partner can rehearse the responses. Once again, none of those responses should be excuses or negotiations, but simply dispassionate facts, stated politely. Facts are non-negotiable. Any appeals to emotion or personal attacks should be answered *calmly*, with “That’s unfortunate.” Or, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” and a reiteration of the original statement. “We need the money by Friday.” Take a deep breath. Know in advance that it will be uncomfortable. It will also be empowering. Your partner can handle the temporary discomfort. It’s amazing how good it feels to stand up to people who take advantage of you. Usually, they move on and find the next mark. It’s all about them.

  • chelee74 January 12, 2017, 3:56 pm

    Next time they suggest something to do or a place for dinner you can just say “you buying?” There’s a conversation starter…

    • Redblues January 26, 2017, 11:10 am

      My guess is, his face will fall so fast it leaves a dent in the floor.

  • Cynical now January 27, 2017, 8:23 pm

    We almost always pay cash because of having our credit card scammed one too many times, unless it is a place with a reader at the table (we have a couple of places that do that, Chilis and maybe one other). So we bring cash, and we could honestly say we didn’t have enough with us.
    But also, with our friends, we also automatically do separate checks unless for some reason we want to treat the other people with us.