Vacationing at non-frugal friends' home

miscindyApril 6, 2009

We are currently on vacation out of state staying with friends. We all lived in the same area for 5 years until they moved due to job loss. Apparently, since they've been gone, we're the only ones who became frugal. The first evening we arrived, we met the 2 families out for dinner--BBQ place family style meal--chicken, steak, ribs, beans, cole slaw, turkey for $65 (plus drinks), but it did feed 6 adults and 4 kids. We shelled out $30 there for our family of 4. The next day for lunch, we are with 1 family--they say let's get pizza. OK- that's usually reasonable--at home we spend $11 and it's enough for the family. Two families of 4--bill comes to $65 again! That night we convince them to cook out. The guys come back from the store with fillet mignon and apple pie from the bakery--another small fortune. Day #3--lunch out (these people never eat at home!) not too bad. Dinnertime rolls around. I say why don't you make your famous tacos? They come back with "How about Q Doba?" OK--$20 more for tacos and tortilla chips!! Money is getting low! We're trying to use cash only. Last night 1 of the wives and I go to WalMart and get some groceries. Tonight will be homemade tacos for dinner. I bought peanutbutter for lunch for the boys and I today--she's at work and the guys ate out (of course). We're headed home tomorrow--good thing, we're broke!

We used to live this lifestyle and now it just seems crazy, money flies out of their hands left and right! It's interesting to see how far we've come since starting a budget about 7 years ago. Even when the friends lived nearby, we cut back quite a bit on the eating out with them--we couldn't afford it! We'd say "Come over after dinner and we'll play some cards and pop some popcorn!"

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Can you really not afford it??? or just saving. If you can't afford it you need to request separate checks, tell them you are light eaters. When my husband and I used to go out to dinner and dancing with friends we paid for our dinner, no splitting the bill. But when we went to a club to dance and drink, when one friend finished his drink he would order a round for everyone. Then everyone would take turns paying for a round. We soon stopped that because we would have drinks just sitting there that we would never drink. My husband told them, we are not ready for more drinks we will order our own. That took care of the problem.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 5:05PM
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I've been on both sides of this, but I hope I have always picked up on signals that our friends maybe didn't have the money to spend, then we would be quick to offer to treat, or offer to cook at our house. It's hard when you are staying at their house, you are sort of at their mercy...but does she not like to cook?? If we have company I always plan on cooking most of the meals, even if its just burgers on the grill or tacos like you suggested.
We recently had friends come to town, they were staying in a hotel and we were supposed to go to dinner, well they called and I think were getting at they maybe didn't have the money to go out to a fancy dinner and also had brought their dog, could we just grill out. Normally this would be fine, but we had just got home from a trip that morning, I was in no mood for throwing together a we said just bring your dog over, we'll order pizza. We have a great place we get pizza from, I ran and got stuff for a big salad and a simple but yummy homemade dessert and that was it. They offered to chip in on the pizza but we said no...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 6:10PM
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That's hard particularly when you're the guest. We don't entertain a lot, but we're good for a meal or two out where we pay for everyone and then we usually grill at home. Fortunately, most people that dh and I entertain are fairly frugal people. There isn't a big push to eat out every meal. We tend to enjoy the food more because it is something special and not just a routine.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 6:57PM
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Sounds like it would have been cheaper to go to a motel and eat where & how you wanted! Sometimes cheap can be expensive.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:35AM
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Yeah, I just reread the OP's post, keep in mind you did not have to pay for a hotel room. So if you look at it that way, maybe it's not so bad. Also you said you were on your own for lunch because the wife was at work, maybe she was tired and didn't feel like cooking. I mean I would like to think I would plan ahead if company was coming and have something easy to prepare on hand, but everyone is different. You could also surprise your hosts with dinner, pasta and salad would be easy and inexpensive to prepare for a lot of people.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 2:04AM
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I'd say that you deserve a gold star for the success that you've achieved in frugal living.

The next question (and you don't need to answer publicly) is ...

... what to do with the savings achieved by the frugality?

Frugality should be a means to an end ... not an end in itself.

Or so it seems to me.

Good wishes for increasing skill in managing both your income and the (growing) assets.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 2:12AM
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It's nice that you have been friends for so long and have even survived a long distance move. You called this trip a "vacation." Perhaps they also view it as a vacation of sorts, and welcome the respite from the daily routine, especially cooking.

Your post has brought up the point that it can be difficult to maintain friendships when spending habits, income or values (about money) are vastly different. It is possible, and worth the effort.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:25AM
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Ruffian1: I like your point about friendships and spending habits. It is worth the effor to keep good friends.

I try to be frugal but on vacation I rarely cook a meal. I look at it like our vacation time is limited so we want to do the most we can while there. I also tend to take shorter vacations to less expensive places. So I save money on destination and by not staying long. But I do spend money eating out almost every meal (we usually buy a couple boxes of cereal for breakfast and eat out lunch and dinner). We also don't usually get back to our hotel or rental house until 8 or 9:00 when we are on vacation.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:44PM
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On vacation we do eat out more often but it is usually at a budget minded place. We don't order much beyond water to drink....I feel for you miscindy and I'm afraid we would not have stayed long with your friends before moving on. Good friends should be good enough that you could just say "sorry we can't afford to keep spending like this as we are on a budget this vacation". And if they offer to pay for everyone I would just say "it's very kind but let's think of another option". Home looks pretty good now I bet.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:41PM
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If I was a house guest, I would take the host out to dinner at least once, then order in a pizza maybe. I would never expect someone to cook for me all the time. I try to get my SIL to make easy meals, we love sandwiches, but she doesn't listen. She cooks for 3 or 4 hours everyday and makes me feel bad.

I like olejoyful's question. What are you saving for.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 7:25PM
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We're back home--it's good to be home! In response to your questions-- the friends normally eat out that often--they did even when they lived near us. And we are saving because we are closing on the purchase 10.5 acres of land in 2 weeks. We are paying down debt on a fast-track schedule to begin saving for the down payment on the house we plan to build in 3.5 years if we stick to our budget.

Other than spending a week's worth of spending and grocery/gas money in 3 days, we had a very nice time with our friends! :) Now I can get back on budget!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 8:14PM
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I am ALWAYS so glad to get back home, even if I've only been gone for the day! :) Glad you had a nice time.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 12:50AM
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My approach is that if I am on vacation, I expect to spend more than if I was still at home. That's what a vacation is - leaving life behind for a period of time! If we "can't afford it", we don't go away.

Glad you enjoyed the time with your friends.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 7:45AM
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I guess it was interesting to see their lifestyles from a new viewpoint. 8 years ago we lived more like that, but now live our daily lives on a cash-only budget. We don't stop at the convenience store for a soda/coffee on the way home when there's soda/coffee at home, we wait until we get home. (Actually I don't even buy soda for myself and don't allow my boys to drink it, but dh does.) I don't waste half of the food I buy--I use it. I bought a newspaper while at their home--they live in a major metropolitan area and there were 6-7 coupon inserts. I clipped a lot, but there were still a lot left. I offered them to the friend and she said to put it in recycling--she didn't even look at them. I guess I haven't done coupons my whole life, but the choices we make are so different these days.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 9:36AM
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when I'm on vacation, I expect to spend more than I would staying home. In addtion, when I see friends, I like the opportunity to go out and be able to socialize without having to worry about prep, cooking and cleanup. If I have guests and I buy ingredients to make dinner, I also will also buy more expensive foods than I would normally. For example, I might make filet mignon for them, whereas at home we would normally just eat something simple and cheap like rice and chicken.

I'm sorry that you spent alot of time worrying about money instead of enjoying your time spent with friends. If you go visit friends again, I think you need to be prepared to spend some extra though.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 10:31AM
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I have to say I've been really surpised at some of the responses, in a good way! I mean this is a money saving forum, but for the most part, everyone is agreed that yes, of course be frugal in your daily life, however, there does come a time to relax and actually enjoy yourself without agonizing over money spent. I'm so glad to see this, I think alot of times people get so caught up in the scrimping/savings, they almost make themselves miserable with it and that should not be the point in my opinion.
Like joyfulguy said frugality should be a means to an end, not the end.
I think everyone is simply telling you to give yourself a break and cherish the time you had with your friends. So you spent more on food than you would have liked, you will know this for next time.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 2:53PM
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Update. It is 3 years later and we are back visiting our friends again. We are having a good time and yep, spending a lot of money eating out. We are a family of 4 and the boys are 14 and 11 years old. I make them share an entree at the more expensive restaurants for dinner and give them more free bread and tell them they can pop some popcorn later if they are still hungry. Over this evening's dinner I suggested we do a make your own pizza night tomorrow. It may have worked, we will see when tomorrow comes. :)

Why are we still trying to be frugal? We bought the land and built the house I mentioned in the original post. My husband recently left a very good paying job with bonuses due to the high stress. Now he's much more relaxed, but with a 30% smaller paycheck and no bonuses. We are not struggling financially but had to tighten up the pursestrings a bit-cut back on cable and cellphones and traded in a gas guzzling truck for a small 4 cylinder car. During this time we also refinanced our new home for a much lower rate and went with a 15 year payoff instead of 30. This costs us more now, but will be saving us a tremendous amount over the course of the loan (nearly the purchase price of the home will be saved in interest!). It will allow us to pay off the house right around the time I hope to retire.

Another interesting point:: Last year, the husband in this couple was unemployed for nearly 1 year and they didn't change their lifestyle at all! We visit them every year (and they us) and during the period of unemployment we expected to see some major changes in their lifestyle. When the came to our house I had meals planned and when I suggested them, they said no thanks they wanted to eat out. I said Ok, after all we weren't the unemployed ones! Turned out they actually spent almost all of their 401k account to "keep up" their normal lives!

I just don't understand this facination with eating out. It is not just because we are visiting--it's SOP for them. Then again I guess not everyone likes to cook like I do. Our weekly grocery bill is higher than many--about $140 for the 4 of us, but we are spending about $70 a day to eat out lunch and dinner and of course it's not even very healthy!

I don't mean to complain and we love to see our friends, but this eating out twice a day every day is just so strange to us! Even if we had lots of extra money, we wouldn't want to eat out all the time. We enjoy relaxing at home. Maybe that's it, a lifestyle difference. We don't enjoy driving in traffic and waiting in crowds to eat. I guess other people do. :)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:35PM
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Why do you not have a conversation with your friends?
I can't imagine being close enough for all these visits and not saying something about an issue you feel so strongly about.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:59AM
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Well, they are making poor choices, or so it seems. But it's their business, isn't it? If they don't have a problem with the way you prefer to live, and still enjoy your company, then it's a two-way street.

I would say it is a little thoughtless of your friends to not realize you want to economize. But if they really are good friends, then they shouldn't be uncomfortable if you speak up and say, "Wow, we're still on a tight budget for a while longer - how about I flip some burgers for us?"

We're retired and have a good amount of disposable income. We've traveled twice with a younger couple and told them up-front that we would pick up the majority of expenses. For instance, we pick up the dinner tab, they pick up the lunch tab. We'll pay separately for the hotel rooms, but we use our car to ferry the four of us around. We'll usually pick up the cost of tickets to various attractions, but let them pay a few times if they offer to. We figure they know their budget and what they can afford to spend. When we offer to pick up the check for others, it's because we are certain we can afford it (fortunately!).

We have known several people who have used their 401k money from past employers to try to change careers and/or start a new business. Do we approve? Nope, never. To us that's not much different than throwing it away on an unaffordable lifestyle. And it's never worked for any of them, either.

But it was their decision, so we kept our mouths shut and we did whatever we could to help support their efforts and be good friends. From what we can see of the three people that did it, they ended up a little poorer, but two of the three were energized into managing their careers more seriously, and all three of them said they had learned a lot from their experiences.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 7:30PM
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If they are close friends, and I assume they are, sit down and tell them the truth. Tell them you didn't plan on spending so much on restaurant and take out food, you came to see them and spend time with them. Level with them that you're running out of cash for this little visit. At least that's what I would do.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:57AM
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When I take my 3 children to visit dear friends 6 hours away, we stay 3 nights. I bake things to take with us. Last time I made 2 pans of lasagna, $ 4 quiches. I also took things to make sides for both meals. I treated them to dinner the first night at a buffet place. Their kids are a lot younger than mine so it was cheap. Next morning we had quiche. The 4 quiches lasted for breakfast the entire trip. We had lasagna for inner day 2 and leftovers for lunch day 3. I took them out to a nice dinner that evening. We left after breakfast day 4.

Their finances are about the same as mine so it all worked. I was so grateful to stay with them! We drove out so we could take food. If you fly then things would be different.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 3:10PM
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I am so with ya. Relatives do the same, but they can afford it and we can't. We save for a rainy day, they don't need to and others expect someone else to pick up the tab when they can't afford the luxury.
It's crazy how we all live differently. Main thing, I live this way by choice and I am happy with it. (Most of the time!)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 8:05PM
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Brad Edwards

I am with momabird, take food, quiche, pies "think good home made pecan, key lime, pumpkin" or blueberry muffins. All suffice for a breakfast, brunch, or late night snack, then people aren't as hungry for eating out, and you can have one nice dinner a night eating out.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:48AM
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My husband and I are quite frugal. Like forage for wild fruits and veg and keep the winter thermostat at 62 frugal. But we know that you do what your host does. If you don't want to go out every meal, then you should stay at a hotel. We run into the same situation while staying with my in-laws. While they cry poor all of the time, they live on restaurant meals and ready to eat foods at home. On the flip side, when they are in your home, they can follow your daily lifestyle. When we host guests and supper is mentioned a simple, âÂÂI've got it handled" easily sets the scene.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 5:42PM
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Alright, this last visit I followed some of your suggestions (and we saved up $$to have for spending on this trip). I packed a bag of groceries to bring along and bought more while there with the other woman. I made dinner once while she was at work. We got chicken and potatoes to toss on the grill another night. She asked her husband to grill the chicken and I found him googling "how to grill chicken." I didn't say anything then but my husband and I giggled about it in bed that night. I also offered to make scalloped potatoes and ham another night and the husband said he would rather get pizza (again) because he "had to eat that nasty stuff when he was growing up." More giggles from DH and I. DH loves my scalloped potatoes and ham! So it worked out ok. Some meals out, some meals in.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 3:01PM
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If I over heard your words and giggles you would no longer be a guest at my home. Shame on you for laughing at your hosts.

I eat my main meal out every day or have frozen dinners at home or sandwiches. I would never serve company frozen dinners, but I would serve them sandwiches part of the time. I make great sandwiches, my husband said "these are not sandwiches it's a meal". I would take them out to eat. Most women I know cook all the time and it is a treat for them to go out and eat. If I were to have people in to stay for a few days I would warn them I no longer cook, I would offer pay to for their meals if they were staying with me. I am sick and tired of "serving" others...........I am retired.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:59AM
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Emma R is correct. "Giggling" at your hosts is rude and childish.

Why don't you dig around the couch cushions and find the money to rent a motel room on your vacations? Then you and the whole fam can feast on peanut butter and wonder bread while saving a fortune!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:08PM
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This post was edited by sushipup on Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 0:14

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 9:21PM
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If a person posts a rude and childish problem, they may the same kind of reply.

The were very rude talking about and laughing at their hosts.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:42PM
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