Thursday, September 29, 2016
Countdown to Financial Fitness: Let's Split the Check: Although more and more restaurants are now willing to accommodate large groups by preparing separate checks, sometimes it makes sense to as...
Although more and more restaurants are now willing to accommodate large groups by preparing separate checks, sometimes it makes sense to ask for a single bill.
For example, if the meal is family-style, or everyone's main course costs approximately the same, and there are shared items like appetizers, bottles of wine, and/or desserts. Or perhaps many of the diners are children or honorees.
Inevitably, you'll encounter that friend or relative who will order the most expensive item on the menu, appetizers, dessert, and several cocktails, and then suggest, "Let's just split the check. It will be easier for the waitress." And others will agree, even though there is someone who only ordered a salad and a glass of complimentary ice water. If you're that person, do you protest and be labeled a cheapskate, or just suck it up and subsidize the others as a cost of friendship?
And then what about the tip? Does everyone chip in equally? It seems like, whenever a group splits the check, the server either gets stiffed or ends up obscenely over-tipped, because everyone wants to appear magnanimous, unwilling to pull anything back from the pile of money, even after realizing they put out too much.
I had a friend in Houston—nice guy, always short on cash—who loved going out with the group, and of course, splitting the check. He'd often be the only one to order an expensive appetizer, and if he let someone else taste it, would consider it a shared expense for the entire group. And when the bill came around, he didn't have any money left for the tip, or even his beers. "Thanks for covering me," he'd whisper. "I'll treat next time." Only "next time" turned out the same as last time.
And what about the sister who suggests taking Mom out to dinner? Sister orders a cocktail and a glass of wine—which you can't do because you're driving—as well as the most expensive item on the menu; her portion is over half the entire bill. But you split the check in half, and both of you get credit for buying Mom's dinner. Oh well, Mom loves you both the same anyway.
My husband, a flight attendant, experiences a lot of group dining situations on layovers. His favorite is a restaurant in Germany, where at the end of the meal, after the tab is requested, the waitress goes around the table, points at each person, and announces a number. Everyone pays his fair share: nothing more, nothing less.
How do you handle group dining? I'd love to hear your comments.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Countdown to Financial Fitness: Extreme Water Conservation: The Friday before Labor Day, my husband discovered a gushing leak in a pipe under the house, and he shut off our water. Good luck getting a...
The Friday before Labor Day, my husband discovered a gushing leak in a pipe under the house, and he shut off our water. Good luck getting a plumber to come out on a holiday weekend.
I haven't been camping since I was a Girl Scout, and I never liked it that much. Now I was forced to camp out in my own home.
I never realized how many times a day I normally wash my hands. Hand sanitizer just doesn't feel as clean.
Those airline packages of refreshing moist towelettes came in handy as a substitute for face washing. And I found some old cotton balls and astringent under my sink, left over from an abandoned three-part facial plan.
Brushing your teeth doesn't require the faucet to be running. Moisten the brush slightly, slather on the toothpaste, and do a cursory rinse afterward, holding the brush over the sink for double duty. I made one small bottle of water last several days.
Sponge bathing is not ideal, but hey, in some cultures, people don't bathe every day. When I lived in France as a student, I only bathed about three times a week. Of course, it was winter, and my apartment was so cold, I didn't like shivering when I took off my layers and layers of clothing.
We had food in our refrigerator, but cooking was still a challenge. I make a lot of different pasta dishes, but no way was I going to use that much drinking water to boil noodles. I have a habit of washing every spinach leaf when I prepare a salad, but since the bag said the spinach was already triple-washed, I decided to trust it.
Fortunately, we had recently done laundry and run the dishwasher. Otherwise... that's why they have Laundromats and paper plates.
When out running errands, we made use of the public restrooms. First and last stop. We can afford to buy bottled water, but balk. It costs as much per gallon as gasoline!
We have a decorative fountain surrounded by a pool in front of our house, and the pool was brimming with water from recent rains. We figured out we could haul five-gallon buckets from the pool to fill the toilet tank. I felt like I was living in a village in Africa, drawing my water from a well. And we used well water to rinse our dishes, too.
No one should have to live like this long-term, but unfortunately, some people in this world have it much worse, on a permanent basis. From this inconvenient situation, I learned I can get by with a lot less water in an emergency.
Now that we are blessed with indoor plumbing again, I'm going to go take a long, luxurious shower.