I Gave at the Office

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Dear Dharma,

I really like your advice usually, and hope this is one time you can help!

I work in a large office and get along with most of my co-workers.  I have a close circle of non-work friends that is my main social group, but I also socialize at office events (summer BBQ, Christmas party etc.).

My problem is that is always seems to be someone’s birthday, or they are celebrating a promotion, or it’s a baby shower, and I am expected to chip in with some $$.

I would be ok with this once in a while, but with the size of the office, it seems like someone is collecting every week.  I am talking like $50 – $100 a month.

I would much rather spend this money on enjoying my real friends!  How can I excuse myself from this without being rude?  I have thought about pleading poverty, but that seems like it could go sideways.

Any thoughts?

Thrifty, Not Cheap

Dear Thrifty,

So – first rule of thumb.  Never give an untrue excuse that someone else can step in and solve.

Because the chances of it going something like this are high:

YOU: “Oh, sorry, I’m a bit low on cash right now, so I’ll have to pass.”

FUND COLLECTOR: “No worries!  I can just put your name down and you can pay me later!”

YOU: “Dammit.”

The best thing you can do is establish some boundaries that don’t require excuses – and so you should, because $50 – $100 each and every month is excessive!

You are not obligated to contribute to each and every plate that is passed around, and you have to stop thinking that you are.

Set some priorities.  For example, when it’s someone you feel a genuine connection to, and that you have some kind of relationship with, feel free to contribute.

When it’s someone you have never worked with and are only slightly aware of them because you’ve walked past them in the hallway, feel free to pass that basket along with a glossed over statement like, “Oh! I wasn’t aware Sally was retiring, we’ve never really interacted – but good for her!”

Of course, it’s not always going to be this black and white.  Along the way, there are going to be some situations where you really don’t feel like contributing, but… all optics point to making an exception to the above criteria.

Like, there’s a person in your direct group that you don’t really like.  Normally you would never buy them a gift, but to slight them publicly will have consequences, so you just do it.  Think of it as paying for a bit of PR.

Bottom line is that in most cases your resources are yours to do with what you choose and it really is okay to say no sometimes.

Dharma

 

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