Post # 1
So, I’ve been seeing a guy for a couple of months now. It’s going well and I’m happy. Cutting to the chase super quickly though:
How do people typically deal with the dinner bill? Tonight we were out for dinner with another couple at a fancy restaurant and he grabbed the bill saying he’s got it, I can get the next one. The next one will be our Valentine’s dinner so that scared me for a minute. We then opted for the bar where we had our first date though, which is great, that’s definitely affordable.
The issue for me is multifacted. I’m a full time student and I work three jobs very casually. aka school is rough and I don’t get to work often these days. He has a secure job. The other factor is I don’t drink. He does. Not to excess but he’ll have 1-4 beers with dinner sometimes. Sometimes none. But given where we’re going I’m assuming the beer will be in the equation. Point being, finances are a stressor for me, and by taking turns, which seems to make sense, it can potentially be quite expensive for me. I covered one bill where each entree was roughly $20. But because of the beer and tip it wound up as $80. It’s just not a thing I can do right now.
Obviously I need to talk to him about this but ideally not during the dinner I’m supposed to be covering. I was thinking of offering to make dinner instead tomorrow to show the effort, but also keeping things within my budget. Rather than stressing over what he drinks and discussing this when there’s a bill coming up.
Everything else has been going so well I’m admittedly feeling a lot of anxiety about this as I don’t want to make a fuss. But I also don’t want to break my bank account assuming taking turns will be a pattern.
How did you handle bills? Has anyone been in the position of earning significantly less than their significant other?
Post # 2
beedot : Agree that you should talk to him about it at a time other than when you’re out to dinner. I’d be completely honest and say that because you’re a student and on a limited income, you’re on a very strict budget and would prefer that each of you pay your own way.
Post # 3
Don’t treat it like a fuss and it shoudn’t be. Just be straight and tell him you can’t really afford to keep doing expensive date nights out and if things are going well, it shouldn’t be an issue. Money issues are a big deal in relationships, so might as well tackle it head on and see where it goes. Perhaps suggest getting separate checks if going out to eat is a big thing for you two? Or maybe rather than saying you want to cook dinner or whatever when it’s your turn to pay to save some yourself some money, what about just suggesting more budget dining or activities in general whenever you guys go out (implying to save him money too)… so it doenst look like you’re just happy to enjoy fine dining on his dime, but want to skimp out when it’s your turn?
Post # 4
I would just talk to him about it and say you’d love to cook for him because your finances are tight and you cant be eating out all the time right now. Try and reserve eating out for special occasions!
I think you’re making this a bigger deal than it is, just talk to him 🙂
Post # 5
That helps relieve some anxiety. 🙂 Thank you! I thought about the seperate cheque thing too, I just didn’t know if that would be considered awkward. I do like the idea of taking on cooking dinner instead though. I am not big into cooking (he is!) but I will suck it up to avoid the awkward bill dance. We’re pretty good about mixing it up in terms of date ideas, this just happened to be a dinner with his friends we were invited to. But knowing tomorrow will be on me, the anticipatory anxiety had begun in a dramatic way!
Thank you for this, I think this is exactly what I’ll suggest. 🙂 Too bad I’m not a great cook haha.
Post # 6
beedot : Definitely have a conversation about your finances and how that affects your ability to pay for dinners out, cooking is a great compromise! I did not pay for any dates the first couple of months of my relationship with my now husband, except that I did take him out for his birthday which was a month into us dating. I did start picking up checks, making dinners, and paying for dates that I organized after about 6 months though.
Post # 7
Yeah, it’s a new one. My ex (13 year relationship) usually paid for dinners out because he had a job and I did not. Plus he drank, I did not. It was simple to him. The guy after that was in a similar position to be able and willing to cover most meals out.
But I feel like taking turns is likely the norm these days? I know this job is relatively new to him (started mid-summer) and he was unemployed prior to that so isn’t as situated as the previous two. Just my assumption!
Post # 8
beedot : I’m surprised he lets you pay his alcohol tab when you don’t drink. He knows you’re paying more than your share—any one of us who drinks knows how much alcohol adds to a dinner tab. Going forward, I would explain your financial situation to him exactly as you’ve explained to us. I would also suggest paying your own way, from now on, and let him pay his.
Post # 9
I feel he ought to be mindful of the obvious discrepancy in your finances without having to be told. You are simply not in a position to afford it and expecting you to pay for his alcohol is particularly tone deaf. I’d explain the situation and reciprocate in other ways and within your actual budget. If it’s that important for him to go out to expensive dinners it’s going to have to be on him or a lot less frequently.
Post # 10
That first bill was my fault. He did try to take it, even though I had premptively told him I’m covering the dinner/drinks (he had covered the tickets to see an exhibit earlier that day). So that was on me, I feel. Rather, he offered as the bill was arriving, and I shot it down, not wanting to go back on my offer.
We’ll definitely chat about it tomorrow night. I’ll cook and hopefully it’ll be easier than it is in my head. For all I know, he may plan to only have one beer tomorrow night which wouldn’t be a big deal at all for me. But, I tend to jump to worst case scenario fairly easily.
Post # 11
4 beers at dinner seems excessive to me. Be honest with him that you can’t afford these dinners.
Post # 12
beedot : I second just cooking for him. It’s what Darling Husband and I are doing for VD even now we both earn good wages and can afford to go out. It’s hard to justify spending money on food at a restaurant, when you can cook for less at home, and booze costs a fraction of the amount.
When Darling Husband and I first got together we would go out all the time and we both racked up stupid credit card debt because of it. We simply couldn’t afford to go out as often as we did, but we wanted the clout of doing it anyway. Don’t make our mistakes!
If you can’t afford it, tell him. No bullshit. I so very very much wish I did when I went through the same thing.
Post # 13
- Wedding: April 2016 - Manhattan, NY
beedot : If you’re serious enough about each other then you need to have a conversation about your finances and expectations. We were in a similar situation when my husband and I were dating. I was a full-time student (wrapping up my undergraduate degree then did a master’s during engagement/early marriage) and only worked part-time until my last semester of grad school. My husband was finishing his PhD but had steady income from teaching and the business he owns. It was never an expectation for me to pay for much of anything because he was clearly in a better position to do so. I of course gave him nice gifts and paid for groceries when I could, made dinners for us, etc. but he covered all of the dates barring his birthday, which was always my treat. We never really had to talk about it, he just naturally took on that role because he was aware that I didn’t make much just working part-time.
Post # 14
The other bees seem to have it covered – I just wanted to pitch in with some easy recipes (as you mentioned you’re not the best cook).
- Homemade burgers – super super easy, stick a small cube of cheese in the middle of the mince for a decadent surprise and you can both assemble your own burgers (keep some cut onion, tomato, lettuce, pickles, mayo, mustard and ketchup out)
- Beef chilli or sweet potato chilli (take a longer amount of time but not hard)
- Risotto (labour intensive but easy for it to taste good)
- Steak (always easy)
- Gnocchi with sausage ragu (first cook sausage meat with onions and garlic in a pan, then stick in a couple of tins of tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and let it all simmer. Then fry some gnocchi in a pan with a tiny bit of oil so it crisps up then pour the sauce over and serve) – this one is a favourite
Post # 15
If you aren’t a great cook, and you have the budget for it, those meal kits from Blue Apron, Plated, Home Chef, etc, might be something to look into. Plus, it could work for date nights as you could prepare the meal together.