I had the same problem as “Not So Rich Mom,” whose grown, well-off children expect her to treat them to dinner all the time.
Here’s how I handle it: If someone says, “Let’s go out for dinner,” I say, “Are we splitting the bill, or are you treating everyone?” If I make the invitation, I offer to pay and will choose the restaurant, but I inform my kids that they will have a separate bar tab because I don’t drink and they love expensive bottles of wine. If they want to pick the restaurant, the deal is off. I also announce that I am not paying for a week’s worth of doggie bags, so they should order only what they plan to eat.
This discussion must happen before getting into the car. Too many older folks get suckered into picking up expensive tabs out of habit or because no one else offers to pull out their credit card. A clear conversation can solve the awkwardness and unpleasant feelings. — California Nana
Dear Nana: Laying all the cards out on the table in advance certainly makes life much simpler.
Sure does….but at this point, who wants to go out to eat with you? (and who are you going out to eat with, that this is necessary for every outing?) Yikes. It’s certainly no fun if every time you see your family and friends you wind up spending a fortune, but this “the deal is off!” approach sure doesn’t seem to make this nana very, um, approachable.