Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rites of Passage

Tomorrow night, I'm getting together with a few high school friends--a bunch of great kids I've known since I was 12 or 13 and whom I really enjoy. We're all very far-flung at the moment: one is a Gates Fellow at Oxford, another a law student in Boston, another in med school (I forget where, but not New York)--then there are two of us who have entry-level jobs here in the city.

It was the law student who picked the restaurant, and she picked a $25-for-an-entree place on the Upper West side. Imagine if you wanted to get a drink! Or dessert! I'm straining my budget by going out at all, so this kind of place is pretty thoroughly outside my means. (I wrote her an email to say that it was a little expensive for me, but if it suited everyone else, I'd work around it--and I will, by eating home first and getting something small and inexpensive out.)

Is this how we can tell we're growing up, by the increasing prices of our entrees?


gildedbutterfly said...

That's so true! I remember when I was teaching and everyone I knew outside that world wanted to go to this place or that place, and I was like, "Dude, I can't even get a Tall Hot Chocolate at Starbucks without shuffling things around in my budget!"

I'm with you, though: I usually only get an appetizer, and use that as my meal. If I'm still hungry later, I'll grab something at home. That usually works for me.

Hooray for old friends, though--hope you have a blast!

deb said...

I've noticed some differences in spending habits between my fellow stipend-supported grad student friends and professional student friends who have monster loans.

The professional students with loans seem to be of the mindset that a little bit more debt won't really make a difference, and that they may as well enjoy themselves now and pay for it later.

Of course, they'll likely have higher paying jobs someday than I will as a scientist!

English Major said...

My friend doesn't have any loans at all, actually--her tuition is being paid in full by the firm for which she'll work for a set number of years on graduation. (She started working there in an administrative position when we were in high school.) My thought was that maybe that frees up her cash to be spent on good food and entertainment, but then again, I don't know how one would manage a job AND law school, and she doesn't come from a family that can give her extravagant amounts of money. I think she might just be ramping up her taste in preparation for her lawyer's salary.

SJ said...

Ordering smart (as you mentioned) can save a ton. i'll splurge on a drink now and then, but I realize it is a splurge.
Most of my friends can afford it too, I think they aren't as into personal finance. I'm sure they contribute to 401ks, but frugality isn't something i hear about.

Dennis said...

I don't mind splurging once in a while with a few friends. Once in a while being a few times a year.

The value is more in catching up with my buddies as opposed to the food.

beth said...

I'm glad you told your friend about what you can and can't afford, and still are managing to work it in your budget. Hopefully she'll remember next time she has to pick, and work on something that's a little more suited for all the budgets.

For now, enjoy the time with your old friends. It's a good treat.

Wil said...

From the other side: (the ones who can afford a little more), I'm glad you told your friend. Sometimes we just don't think about the idea that not everybody can afford the same things we can, and I apologize to anybody who wasn't able to tell me for whatever reason.

Anonymous said...

I always have to deal with evenings like this, and here's what I do:
I show up but say that I already ate due to an event at work or a family event, so I just order a small appetizer OR a glass of wine OR a dessert. This is a huge help, because I make sure I order something small enough and insignificant enough that I am not included in the bill splitting. Of course, I still throw in $10 (or whatever) to cover the cost of my item, but people don't include me in the general dividing of the bill which tends to be so incredibly expensive. It works well. And I don't feel like I'm missing out. After all, what I want is the social interaction with my friends, not a random plate of food.

Madame X said...

Good for you for mentioning it-- that is always an awkward situation but it sounds like you handled it well. I'll bet some of the other guests were thinking the same thing but didn't say it.

Hazygrey said...

I second anonymous's suggestion that you order something very small, so it's clear you're not part of the bill splitting. I hate it when I order a cheap entree trying to be frugal and then we just end up splitting evenly between the group.