Tuesday 25 August 2009

Ask The Tight Fist: Group Dinners

Team Tight Fist? You Had Better Hope.

Dear Tight Fist,

The team, including my ride, decides to go to a post-tournament dinner on Sunday. At a brewpub. The cheapest thing on the menu is an $11 burger. Before we even sit down, a teammate sets the tone by ordering four $18 pitchers and three $9 appetizers "for the table." What do I do?

-Frugal Teammate

Dear Frugal Teammate-

This is seriously a nightmare situation that is going to require some deep plays from the Tight Fist playbook. There is nothing more frustrating than being forced into outrageous purchases made by some idiot just because that bastard 'assumed' that you also love to throw all your money away.

First things first- you need to get away from that hellish $99 bill. The only way to do this? Get the hell out of there...sneakily. Everyone will just assume that you are going to the bathroom, but you really will be jetting out of the restaurant and finding some reasonably-priced carry-out place. Then you just come back to the restaurant with your food and tell your friends you had an deep unavoidable urge for Subway or McDonald's or whatever. Bill avoided!

And if the waiter gives you crap about bringing in your own food, I would suggest the 'start a scene approach'. One idea: Fake allergy! "Sir, I am deathly allergic to polysorbontic compounds. Can you guarantee that all your food is polysorbontic free? I didn't think so. So if I eat your food I could die. Do you want me to die? Now get the hell out of here." Make sure to be loud and disturb other customers, so the waiter will just want to do anything necessary to shut you up. Done and done.

Hey, What Asshole Ordered
The Faberge Omelette?

But what if there are no other food options nearby, and you don't have the willpower to sit there and consume nothing? Well, then you have to make the eternal choice: food or booze. This should be a no brainer, as we all know that ordering food and booze simultaneously is moronic. Pick one and join in, but make sure it is publicly known that you are not consuming the other (and therefore not responsible for that part of the bill.) Some example excuses for why you're not eating:
  • "I only eat my food in bar form"
  • "I have an eating disorder"
  • "I have explosive diarrhea"
  • "I'm trying to starve my parasite"
And why aren't you drinking?
  • "God hates booze"
  • "I have only one kidney"
  • "I am worried I will try to make out with you"
  • "I'm an alcoholic"
  • "Because of my happy pills"
As for your 'friend', you need to make sure you return the favor by putting him in an awkward situation where he is obliged to spend money against his will. I would suggest the good old 'order pizza for delivery to his house trick'. Every week.

Have problems with frugality? Ask The Tight Fist at thetightfist@googlemail.com. Don't be shy.


  1. This will also get you out of the eternal problem of "splitting the check"; where normally intelligent people are utterly incapable of accurately calculating their contributions. Usually resulting in arguing/bitter overpaying by the considerate few.

  2. Immediately after the guy orders four $18 pitchers and three $9 appetizers you shout, "Thanks buddy, your generosity is legendary!" and then watch him either man up or weasel out of it. Let the negotiating begin!

  3. I have personally tried all those excuses to get out of eating, and none of them work. It's much easier to just tell people you don't like them and accept having no friends.

    Also, it seems like the Tight Fist should take a stand against tapas, if he hasn't already. Now that's a good way to empty your wallet while staying hungry!

  4. I was just about to ask this question! :) But on the "splitting the bill" point, I've found that bringing a lot of change, e.g. $1s and $5s, helps a lot for group dinners. So you can just put in the exact amount you are responsible for, and leave it at that while the rest are arguing.

  5. One strategy I recommend is to loudly announce your budget restrictions before the restaurant is chosen. Or if it's chosen ask, "Do you think I'll be able to get anything for under 6$ there? That's my budget for today."

    People can order all the appetizers, drinks, plates they want. You're spending 6$ and you'll probably get to eat their leftovers.

  6. This also avoids the "bill splitting" phenomenon.