What Would You Do? #2

Nov 5, 2012 by

dice with question marksEach What Would You Do? article outlines a scenario with a dilemma and choice to be made by a person I’ve made up, either Dave or Diane (any resemblance to you or me is purely coincidental!). Most of the time, money won’t be the only factor involved in the choice, but money will play a meaningful part in Dave’s or Diane’s options. Also, most of the time, there won’t be a “right” answer (this is NOT a test!). I’m hoping to get at what should Dave or Diane consider in making the choice? What’s a good way to go about making the choice? Of course the best way for you to explain your ideas may be to outline what you would do in the same scenario and, most importantly, why.

Diane’s Fun Friday Problem

Diane works for a small business with twelve employees. With one or two exceptions, she likes her colleagues, both professionally and personally. It’s a close-knit group with high morale who work together well and, for the most part, enjoy each other’s company.

Fun Fridays

The business’ owner and Diane’s boss—Jenny—announced a couple of months ago a new “office tradition:” Fun Fridays. The business would shut down at 4:00 pm (one hour early) on Fridays allowing everyone to adjourn to a nearby pub and indulge in happy hour drinks and appetizers. Diane and her colleagues were excited!

Reality Meets Pocketbook

Diane had a lot of fun at the inaugural Fun Friday. Along with one other colleague, Ryan, Diane doesn’t drink alcohol, but she had a ginger ale and grabbed a few items from the plates of various appetizers passed around the table. As a whole, the group of twelve consumed two pitchers of beer and a number of glasses of wine and boozy drinks like martinis.

After a couple of hours the group figured they’d had enough and called for the bill. When the check arrived, Diane’s colleague Bill scrutinized it for a minute, brow furrowing, then shook his head and proposed to the group “how ‘bout we make it easy and just split this evenly?” Diane’s stomach clenched for a moment and she froze while several at the big table dug into their pockets and said something like “sure, sounds good.” Including a generous tip, Bill calculated that each person’s share would be $25. Diane felt a little sick, but dug a twenty and a five from her purse.

Diane’s Dilemma

Diane and her spouse are excellent managers of their personal finances. They’ve got a budget with short and long-term goals built into it, save aggressively, and track their spending and review reports of their actual vs. budgeted spending at the end of every month. They’ve budgeted $50 per month for “entertainment,” the spending category under which Diane recorded her $25 happy hour.

Up until the decision to divide the check evenly, Diane really enjoyed the first Fun Friday. But there’s no room in her family’s budget for anywhere near $1,300 worth ($25 per week x 52 weeks) of Fun Fridays. She’s also upset that she helped pay for expensive alcoholic drinks that others consumed. She didn’t eat a lot either. But she worries that if she opts out of Fun Fridays, she’ll be pressed to give an explanation, and she’s uncomfortable revealing the truth. Also, choosing not to participate might mean she’ll miss out on meaningful relationship development with her colleagues and boss, which might impact her career.

What Would You Do?

Should Diane opt out of Fun Fridays and make up an explanation? Give a truthful explanation? Decide to attend maybe one out of five Fun Fridays and come up with excuses for missing the rest? Have an honest conversation with her boss, Jenny, or maybe the other non-drinking colleague, Ryan, about her dilemma? Along with her spouse, cut expenses elsewhere to make room in the family budget for Fun Friday? If she does opt out of a Fun Friday, should she leave the office at 4:00 or work until the normal 5:00 closing?

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  • Jason @ WorkSaveLive

    Interesting dilemma. Obviously she shouldn’t cut back on her other budget categories to make room for Fun Fridays (unless she wants to do that because she wants to drink and have fun). Ultimately she’ll either (1) have to grow a pair and talk to her boss or (2) avoid the confrontation and do her best to make excuses as to why she can’t go.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    Interesting predicament. I would think she could continue going, but with the understanding that everyone pays their own way, especially drinks. She could also look at only going once/twice a month and not paying.

  • Well, I’m normally one for speaking up. That being said, I think that this seems like a situation where one could take the view that maybe this place isn’t the best fit for Diane. Maybe it’s a cost of doing business there, but the culture doesn’t seem like a fit for someone who doesn’t partake and is on a budget. Not that there’s anything wrong with her approach; frankly, I’d be likely to be like her these days!

  • What do you guys think of this: Go to the happy hours, but for most of them, don’t stay long–maybe 30-60 minutes. Diane could have nothing to eat or drink (and so leave no money when she takes off), or if she has a soda and nibbles on an appetizer, since the check won’t be there yet, she can choose to leave the amount she thinks is fair, including tip. “Gotta run guys–here’s $5 to cover my soda and I had a couple of chicken wings. See you all Monday!”

  • Emily @ evolvingPF

    I face this all the time in social (not work-related) situations. I would just attend the happy hours as often as I like but not eat or drink anything and not contribute to the bill. If they continue to split the check evenly (which others are also probably not happy with), just pipe up and say “Oh, actually, I didn’t have anything.” Or if she decides to order something, pay for it up front during the meal so it isn’t included in the group check.

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