No Really I Got This: Does Income Matter When The Bill Comes?

Growing up I was constantly asking for money, it started with a quarter to play an arcade game to $5 for  pizza with friends.  At first your parents are happy to give you money, sometimes it is for clothes or to see a movie with your friends, depending on your parents they might have paid for your summer camp, which was in the hundreds of dollars.  Later on many of us get our first job, it could be in high school or college, but it’s usually a chance to break free from asking Mom (If I asked Dad, you would have thought I asked for a Corvette for my birthday instead of the $5 request that was made) for some of the wants you have in life.  My first real job, you know the one where they pay you minimum wage and expect you to show up on time and do tasks every single time you show up, I was shocked they expected this every time.  This gave me the chance to blow money on pizza and a movie without asking good old Mom and Dad because you had a few dollars, of course you still relied on them for food and shelter or at least the basic necessities, but grabbing a movie was on me.  Then one day it happens, they don’t send you money any longer (maybe care packages, which I’m pretty sure I will receive until the day I die and yes I’m perfectly OK with getting Animal Crackers in my care packages when I turn 40, those little snacks are my favorite).  Maybe it was the day you received you first pay check or when they realize that you are officially on your own.  Then in some version of the movie BIG, when your parents come to visit, you are a kid all over again and they want to pay for everything.  Get ready to tell your parents, “No, Mom and Dad I got this”!

My parents are visiting this week and with the expectation the entire month of May would be a little more expensive than our usual budget we made plans to pay for everything.  It’s funny though when went to the cash register to pay for our first meal at Rex’s Italian Foods we paid for the whole meal with our own money, they begin to talk with each other to say something like “Did they pay for that?  Should we give them something for it?  No, we can just get the next one.”  When we paid for the meal it was almost like a sneak attack, maybe it was because you pay after you eat and before you leave or maybe it was all the great tasting Italian food that left everyone in a food coma, either way we seemed to have won the first “I got this” register battle, but trust me there would be many more.

It happened sooner than I thought.  On our way home we stopped at our local grocery store and picked up a few things, just some snacks and drinks for the night and a few small items for tomorrow morning’s breakfast.  When we were being checked out, I was quick to pull out my wallet and have my debit card in hand, just waiting for the last item to be scanned, when I heard my Dad say, “Put that away, I got this”.  I immediately responded with a man sized NO, I would take care of it, but a gentle push and smile gave me reason to defer to the man with the voice that I have heard sound like an angry grizzly bear, I was relegated to a baby cub and moved away quietly.  I have also learned that this type of interaction happens many times throughout your life, so I have developed a streamlined approach of how I handle the situation when someone offers to pay.

3 Easy Steps to Follow, When Someone Offers to Pay

  1. Person offers to pay, Immediately say No with full intention to pay for everything
  2. Person usually offers to pay again, allow person to pay for everything, no use arguing over money
  3. If you still feel the need to pay in some way, hand them cash and tell them at least let me pay for something, only do this once

With these 3 steps everyone is happy and doesn’t feel any guilt or animosity for paying/not paying…..All your problems solved, unless it’s your parents:)

What I find interesting with family or at least with my parents is that income plays no factor in the decision for who is going to pay.  I’ve actually had this discussion with my Dad, he has a pretty good idea of what income we produce, I think I have even shared a general number of what our combined salary’s equal.  Mrs. Even Steven and I are both college graduates in our early 30’s living and working in the city of Chicago, we are happy to be blessed with well paying jobs and continue to stay humble and work hard on our path to financial independence, some of the reason we believe it is possible to reach this goal is because of our salary.

My parents are your typical blue collar hard working people who like many parents want their children to grow up and be successful, have the things they did not.  They have not been the best savers or have the highest income, but they still want to pay for things when we go to the grocery store or out to a restaurant.  Should I step in and pay for everything?  Offer cash to at least pay for something?  Would I hurt their pride if I did pay? What would you do in my situation?

This leads me to the bigger question, do you let your family or friends pay for something even though you know you are in a better financial situation or earn a higher income?

18 Responses to “No Really I Got This: Does Income Matter When The Bill Comes?

  • I don’t mind the taking turns method. I think it’s fair to split the bill even with income discrepancies. I try to not pay for everything anymore anyway! When it comes to my parents, we usually let them buy a nice dinner during the visit and we cover everything else.
    Vawt recently posted…Travel Rewards UpdateMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Taking turns can work as a method, but yeah avoiding eating out or buying groceries all together is another approach, haha.

  • I do think that it is amazing that my parents and I think a lot of parents still insist on paying for things when you are older. I mean I actually have more money than my parents (and they are just fine in their retirement) but whenever I offer to pay or insist my dad gives me this look like I committed a crime. I think it is great that your parents let you pay. My dad won’t let me, neither will my mom. Keep it up!
    Jason recently posted…Budgeting for ChinaMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah we almost have to be sneaky about it, like hey Dad look at how good that dessert looks and then boom pay for the whole meal!

  • My income is far great than my parents, but so is my debt. 🙁 But we try and split things evenly.
    Brian @DebtDiscipline recently posted…Interview Series: DebtGalMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah taking turns and splitting seems to be a good strategy, agreed. Don’t worry debt will go down once you start practicing the Debt Tornado….no self promotion there!

  • My friends have better income than me and if they offer to pay for something, I try to reciprocate a favor in some other way when I can. My parents would never let me pay for something like going out to eat, but Ive done other things like cooked them dinner or have taken them somewhere interesting on me. I think every family has a different dynamic.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      That’s a good idea on doing something else to show your gratitude, I like that. Families are different without a doubt, but I’m noticing the trend that parents like to pay.

  • I personally don’t factor in how much money someone makes when it comes to who’s paying for what…if they are a productive adult, that is. Whether you make $20,000 or $200,000, I personally believe that no one should take advantage of the generosity of others, nor let themselves foot the bill over and over for things that should be split. Equal enjoyment means equal contributions when the bill comes. I don’t care how much money you have or make.

    I also believe the splitting the bill at a restaurant, rather than “I’ll get ya next time” or “You’ll get next meal” to be much more cost effective. When people aren’t paying for that meal, even if they know that they will pay for the next one, they tend not to be as frugal as they might otherwise would have been. Splitting the bill means everyone is well aware of what they will be responsible for paying, and by the end of the meal, you’re square – every time.

    To more directly answer your question – do I let them pay if I make more money? Sure, if they really want to pay. As I said, I don’t care how much money people make. If they decide that they want to pay, that’s fine. If I decide that I want to pay, that’s fine too. But in the end, we are all adults and capable of making our own decisions. We should pay for the links that we voluntarily want to enjoy…rich or poor.
    Steve recently posted…I am a freedom fighter!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      That’s funny about splitting the bill versus I’ll get you next time, as I’m sure I’ve said if I had known I would have ordered the steak or more beer, etc very true. It’s an interesting social/financial dynamic with paying when you are rich/poor, the professor in me wants some sort of research study on the topic.

  • It’s important to let parents pay sometimes, to make sure that they still feel relevant, and like useful contributors in your now-adult life. We’ve had the issue of a mooching parent, and that’s quite a different issue. To combat it, we’ve been dropping a lot of hints about how much things cost, about things we’re sacrificing in order to save for ER, and sometimes this approach seems to be working, sometimes not. But if parents offer to pay, let them — at least some of the time!

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah it seems to be the best way to keep everyone in the family happy. What made me feel great is I know they specifically set aside savings for this trip, so to my knowledge it was not anything debt related or that would cause harm to their finances.

      Mooching parent, yeah that could be a sensitive family topic, usually it’s the other way around so that’s certainly an interesting dynamic.

  • I recently had to sneakily buy groceries when my parents visited because they don’t want me to pay for anything when they visit (same when I visit them).

    It’s also a little weird come Christmas time. Last year, I told my parents we might not visit over Christmas (because we thought we might fly in a few months earlier to see our newborn nephew), suddenly our Christmas present was a flight home. The problem isn’t the money, it’s the time off (for my husband).

    I feel fine with them spoiling my son, but I’m still trying to help them to transition to the fact that I’m doing very well financially.

    One of my “millionaire goal” is to pay for a sweet vacation for my whole family- just like my parents have done a few times.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Sneakily buy groceries, ha like we are all on secret missions avoiding letting our parents know we spent money on getting groceries, pretty funny. I think parents want to solve the financial problem because that can be the easiest, pitching in certainly helps, but if your situation is time off they don’t see the whole picture which can have everyone on different levels.

  • It’s funny because I recently went to lunch with my mom(she usually pays), my daughter and her husband (I usually pay). When the check came, my mom grabbed the check, so I said, “Can I split it with you?”, and she smiled and agreed. That was the first time my mom let me split the check with her.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Maybe she thinks you made it financially! Haha that’s a win in my book;)

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