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Monday, September 14, 2009

Frugal Favors: Foolish?

I was thinking about this common issue because, just yesterday, someone at Goodwill, who begged me to buy her a leather jacket last week, which I did (with misgivings), did not have the $20.00 to pay for it. Instead, she offered me her pay card as hostage. Of course, I don't want to be holding someone's pay card (whatever that is).

I had a feeling this would happen. And Mr. FS could wear the jacket if she doesn't come through. Or I could take it to the Buf, as we call Buffalo Exchange. Last year, I bought two tops on sale at Banana Republic, one in small and one in medium, because I didn't have time to try them on. An instructor in my department was wearing the same top in black. When she heard I was returning the brown, she said, "Bring it in. They were out of the brown when I was there." I said, "OK. It was $8.00."

So I brought the top in the next day. Even though she is a low-paid instructor, she has a husband who is an accountant, who has scornfully said, apropos of departmental fights, "I can't believe people get so upset over a $60,000 job." But I am pretty sure she has a shopping disorder. So I specified that I wanted cash.

She offered a check. I declined, because 1. it's a pain to go to the bank, and 2. if the check bounced, I have to pay a fee, right? I reminded her many times. She never had $8.00, but begged me to wait another week. I stopped reminding her because she starting looking at me with hostility. So I took the top back to Banana only to discover that I was one day past the return deadline!!!!

I was reminded of all this because I read on another blog (can't remember which one) a cry of distress from a woman who has just paid off her credit card, only to have her husband put on their card the hotel reservation for 5 people! Because the other people have no "room" on their cards.

I was going to comment with the above stories, as well as the story of how my husband and I paid for a dinner for a class we were teaching (the "students" were teachers who were paid for taking the class, which was funded by a grant we wrote.). Not only did they not pay for our lunch (even though each one made money plus got several graduate credits for free), they reimbursed us ONLY the cost of the meal, conveniently leaving out tax and tip--i.e. 25%. This was for 20 people!

The above scenario has happened to Frugal Son too. On MY Amex. He said he got reimbursed. I hope he's telling the truth.

I love to spread the frugality around, but really it incurs resentment. YOU become the villain. I didn't comment on the other blog, because there were already zillions of comments with similar tales of woe.

Have you ever done a frugal favor with a happy ending?


FB @ said...

:( I'm just unhappy that these things happen

Makes you jaded over time and cynical to help anyone else (at least for me, it would).. because you just can't trust them if they don't have $20 or $8 on them.

I think it may have happened to me ONCE where they only took cash, but my friend paid me back immediately once we got back to her place.

Duchesse said...

This is not about frugality, it is about civility. SO here is my Miss Manners take.

Give people the benefit of the doubt on small amounts (you decide what that is). If they keep 'forgetting' say something (pleasantly) like "I don't like money to come between friends/ colleagues. When can you pay me for the sweater?" If they don't pay, I drop it. (I'd have taken her cheque- isn't the NSF charge more than $8? I even wonder if she was insulted by your refusal to take it?) Guessing the BR incident left a bad taste for both of you.

What someone's partner does for a living, or their assumed net worth is irrelevant to the issue: I'm either willing to lend or not.

If people are cheap (not leaving money for the tax and tip) it's "Hey, people, you need to cough up a bit more,we need to leave the server a tip, and pay the taxman."

Funny about Money said...

This kind of stuff happens to me, too. My trouble is, I put it out of my mind, and then when a new opportunity to be shafted arises, I fail to benefit from experience.

Shelley said...

My Dad was a hopeless spendthrift. When he wasn't spending his money on 'stuff' he was making loans to his friends. Even when he had to borrow at high rates when their credit was too poor to borrow there. I needn't tell you he often got left holding the bag. What he learned from that? Never loan money to a friend -- either make it a gift or don't go there at all. It ruins friendships.

That said, I guess I'm pretty picky or easily offended or something. If someone stiffed me in the ways that you describe, I wouldn't consider they deserved the title 'friend'. I want to hang with a classier group of people, me.