Are you willing to be “the cheapskate”?

by Erika Torres

investIf your friends decide to do something that is normally out of your budget, would you be willing to splurge even though the expense made you uncomfortable?

Or would you speak up and say something?

A friend from out of town will be visiting this weekend and suggested brunch with a group of our friends. She ended up making a reservation at a nice restaurant.


Due to a misunderstanding, we all thought that the brunch was originally $31–a bit expensive for brunch but they served bottomless mimosas so we figured it was a splurge.

We then found out that the brunch was actually $44 on Sundays. When you add tax and tip, it can easily come out to $60.

$60 for brunch?!

Now, I’m all about splurging every now and then–and one of my New Year’s resolutions was to live it up a little, but I find a $60 brunch to be pretty ridiculous.

Can I afford a $60 brunch? Yes. Will it break my bank? No.

But the principle of it is that I just felt uncomfortable spending that much on a freakin’ brunch–when it wasn’t even a super special occasion! I can’t eat $60 worth of food at brunch!

I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything. And then I slept on it.

I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want to be that person.

SO I had two choices:

  • I could suck it up and fork over the $60 on brunch but be kinda pissed about the situation
  • I could speak up and offer to make a reservation somewhere else.

In the end, I chose to speak up, and offered to make a reservation at a more affordable brunch restaurant.

And my friends were fine with it. In fact, I think most of them were actually pretty glad I did say something.

If that makes me a cheapskate, I’m okay with it. That’s an extra $30 that will be in my pocket–I can have TWO brunches for the price of one 🙂

Have you ever been that person? 



Emily January 17, 2014 - 11:42 am

We are looking for couples to be a part of TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates. Please email us at Thanks!!

Emily January 17, 2014 - 11:41 am

We are looking for couples to be a part of TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates. Please email us at Thanks!

Ella January 12, 2014 - 3:51 am

Your post showed up on my Feedly as I was wondering what to do about a similar situation! With the complication that in my case it’s not friends, but “work friends” (coworkers I’m particularly friendly with, which makes them more than “colleagues” but not exactly “friends-friends”, if that makes any sense…), and this makes it more difficult to navigate for me. At some point in the next few weeks we need to have a looong meeting to discuss a specific project. Somebody suggested a two-day “retreat” at a hotel, which would be really productive work-wise and also a lot of fun, as we would get to hang out together, share meals, etc. Unfortunately, we would have to pay for this ourselves (as the retreat was “our” idea, not our employer’s), and I make significantly less than my coworkers (the price of the retreat would amount to roughly one-fifth of my take-home pay!) At first I contemplated letting them make the plan and then telling them that I won’t be able to attend (because it makes me very uncomfortable to talk openly about what I can and can’t afford) but I finally decided to speak up before the reservations are made, telling them that unfortunately I can’t afford to go on a retreat and suggesting an alternative (we have perfectly fine meeting rooms at our workplace!) I still haven’t had the opportunity to broach the subject and I feel kind of anxious every time I think about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it, but I know I’m doing the right thing. Thanks for your post, it was very encouraging!

dojo January 12, 2014 - 3:26 am

My money, my rules. I was very open in the past about not being able to afford to go somewhere and that was it (I could actually afford it, but didn’t want to spend the money on that, so I didn’t). It’s been years since I stopped caring what others have to say about me and these past years have been THE BEST in all areas. Just think about what’s important for you and your family, the rest doesn’t matter 😉

Erin @ My Alternate Life January 11, 2014 - 10:06 pm

You did the right thing. I don’t think what you did is considered cheapskate status, just frugal. $60 for brunch is crazy expensive!

One Frugal Girl January 11, 2014 - 2:01 pm

Good for you! I’m usually the one to speak up when costs get out of hand. Every time I’ve said something the other people in my party seem to applaud. I think no one likes to be the one to say “no,” but most people are grateful once someone else says “no” for them.

Micah January 10, 2014 - 7:41 pm

$60 for brunch? Unless Ryan Gosling is serving it shirtless, that is way too much money. I’m glad you spoke up. I would have been one of those “relieved” friends.

E.M. January 10, 2014 - 6:51 pm

That’s great that you spoke up and everyone was in agreement about it. Bad situation averted! Most of the time, I just decline the invitation. I agree that $60 is definitely way too much for brunch. Sometimes I’ll find out the restaurant beforehand and try to look at a menu online to see if it’s within the budget or not.

Army Amy January 10, 2014 - 5:41 pm

I love a fancy brunch! Stephen’s grandpa used to pay for the whole family to go out for fancy brunch on Easter. (He might still do it, we just don’t live there any more, so we don’t attend.) I really hope he wasn’t paying $60 a head. I think that’s outrageous.

When you know how hard you work to earn that money and all the other things you could spend it on ($30 is a half hour massage, yo!), it makes it harder to spend in ways that you think aren’t worth the price.

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies January 10, 2014 - 3:59 pm

I think if it’s far enough in advance to suggest a different place that’s good. It also makes me glad that with family and close friends we’ve now instituted “rules” where the person inviting and picking the location pays for everyone. It’s solved many posturing “fights” over who gets the bill.

Tonya@Budget and the Beach January 10, 2014 - 3:48 pm

Yes I’ve been that person and I’m totally ok with it. Or I might do something like not make a fuss and then not go to brunch, but suggest coffee or a drink with the friend that was in town. I have friends who plan extravagant birthday parties where I live. You know I love most of them to death, but it’s way out of my price range. Gotta put the oxygen mask on yourself first. And even though you can AFFORD it, it may not be where your spending priorities are, and that’s totally OK!

anna January 10, 2014 - 12:33 pm

That’s great that you spoke up – usually I just bow out (unless the friends were from out of town, and not just LA out of town. Then that would be a tough call!). The ones that are crazy to me is bottle service at clubs for bachelorette parties – it seems glamorous and all, but I’d have a tough time with it especially since I’m a two-drink person!

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 2:27 pm

ah, see that’s a situation where I would totally be okay with it! haha. I guess everyone has their financial limits. Although I will say that for bottle service, you’re paying for the table rather than the alcohol. So if you think about it that way, it’s the price of admission. Vegas clubs won’t give you any place to hang out, unless you pay for bottle service.

Michelle January 10, 2014 - 11:57 am

I do think that $60 is definitely on the high side. I do have a friend who is super cheap and complains about spending $10 at a restaurant – to the point where she doesn’t leave a tip and the rest of us always have to cover her bills. It’s not that she doesn’t have the money either, she is just CHEAP.

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 2:24 pm

THAT is annoying. I think that’s definitely where you draw the line between “cheap” and “frugal.” I hope I haven’t ruined my rep amongst my friends, bc I’m always up for a good time, and will definitely splurge on items, but $60 on brunch I find to be just a tad bit excessive.

Emily @ evolvingPF January 10, 2014 - 10:44 am

Your situation sounds almost exactly like one I ran into a couple years ago – but at twice the price! We went out for brunch with friends, but found out at the restaurant that only a buffet brunch was being served for about $30 pp, which at the time was 100% of our monthly eating out budget, before adding in tax and tip. As we arrived far before our friends, we had the option of advocating that we meet at another nearby restaurant, but we sucked it up. And ate a LOT of seafood!

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 2:23 pm

yeah, see I was all for it when I thought the brunch was only $31. That’s still pretty fancy for brunch right? But at $60 I couldn’t justify the cost. It would have to be a special occasion.

Megan - FireWifey January 10, 2014 - 10:30 am

So all of my friends know I’m a cheapskate. lol I just need to be better at spending our money wisely. OH! and we signed up for Dave Ramsey’s financial peace, so you may see me hitting some goals this year!!

Sara January 10, 2014 - 10:10 am

Speaking up like that is generally my very last choice. L and I have often eaten before going out to expensive restaurants with friends, and then will just share an entree so we can share in the experience. If a pre fixe menu is expensive, we will try to see if we can order something other than the full brunch. Are you comfortable being the one to not eat at a restaurant? (I’m not, but I don’t have a problem with it as long as the non-eater leaves a tip.)

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 2:21 pm

Well, back when my husband and I were less financially well-off, we would budget for these types of outings, but we would also be careful about what we ordered (only on glass of wine, chicken not steak, etc). I’ve never been one to go to a restaurant and then NOT eat. I love food! That being said, at a brunch buffet, you have to pay the admission. And even though I COULD afford it, I just didn’t feel comfortable paying that much for brunch. It seemed like a waste of money to me.

CeCe @Pink Sunshine January 10, 2014 - 9:19 am

I think you did the right thing and I think I would do the same! And I think my friends wouldn’t mind, in fact no one I know would have even picked a place that expensive. MJ’s friends are the big spenders. They go to fancy places and he’s okay with it so even though at first I’d cringe at the bill I had to get over it; especially since he’s the one who pays.

Kathy January 10, 2014 - 8:24 am

I don’t think I’ve been in that situation although I would have no problem speaking up if I thought something was out of line. I’d probably just say that I couldn’t or didn’t want to spend that much and they were welcome to go without me and please check with me another time when I might be able/willing to go. And you were right, probably other members of the party were relieved you spoke up.

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 8:57 am

I think this is the first real time something like this has happened to me. Back when we really had little to no spending money, I think people were aware of our financial situation so this type of thing never came up. BUt man, the more I ekpt thinking about plunking down $60 on brunch, the more uncomfortable it made me feel. I guess some frugal ways never leave you, no matter how much money you start to earn!

Ceci Bean January 10, 2014 - 8:02 am

I am a cheapskate on some things, but dining is not one of them!

I would probably be the thoughtless friend who would suggest the $60 brunch. lol.

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 8:58 am

Well, I am usually up for a nice dinner out with friends that involves wine! Last week, we went out to dinner and splurged since we knew we weren’t going to be able to go out to dinner for a while. I think our half of the bill came out to like $150 or something. But $60 on brunch for ONE person I just couldn’t justify… I guess my own frugality has rules haha

Tanner January 10, 2014 - 6:58 am

Yikes… a $60 brunch. There goes my biweekly food budget on its entirety! It does seem I am always *that* person. Even though I probably have that money somewhere saved up and removing it won’t kill me, it’s not on my ‘spending’ money, so I really don’t have that money. Is it worth the hardship? Not always. If it’s a pretty good and special, unique occasion, then I will do it without thinking twice (like during my once a year visit to Chicago and my friends want us to go to a nice place or on a tour). But I have made it a rule that I wont be the one peer-pressured into things I can’t afford. I make my budget restrictions very public (ahem, 60 for food for 2 weeks), so it’s nothing new when I bring it up. Then again, it helps that all of my friends are cheapsk– I mean, frugal, most of the time!

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 8:59 am

I am in awe that you can spend so little on groceries. Our monthly grocery budget of $500 doesn’t even include our dining out budget! That’s entirely separate. Although when I was single, I would spend about $200 a month on groceries and would have plenty to eat. When I got married, I quickly learned that Eric eats about twice the amount I do, so our grocery budget pretty much tripled. It was a rude awakening.

Ris January 10, 2014 - 5:58 am

I’m not always willing to speak up, but when I do I’m really glad I did. Otherwise I don’t have fun, and I just end up worrying about money. Usually when I say something several other people express similar thoughts, which always makes everyone feel better!

newlywedsonabudget January 10, 2014 - 9:02 am

That’s exactly what I was thinking! Some of my friends may have money to burn, but I think most of us are pretty money conscious as well.

moneystepper January 10, 2014 - 3:44 am

Have I ever been that person?

I think I’m ALWAYS that person!!

Mysti January 10, 2014 - 3:29 am

Good for you for speaking up. You will have a much more enjoyable outing knowing that you are spending money you are comfortable with.


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