The Cheque’s in the Mail



Dear Dharma,

So my sister had a “milestone” birthday recently, and there was a get-together with friends and family to celebrate.  The thing is, for 90% of these things, my sister is the party planner.  It is her choice, as she really enjoys the whole thing, lists and schedules and telling people what to do and like that.

So for her party, it fell to me and her husband (my brother in law) to do the heavy lifting.  We did a pretty good job, no complaints there, but now I have a delicate issue.

How do I get my brother-in-law to pay for half of the arrangements and supplies I ponied up for?  We had agreed to split everything beforehand, but now it seems like he has decided that the stuff he paid for plus his time (he arranged the DJ and he used his truck to get tables and chairs from a rental place) make it a wash.

I don’t want this to be a source of friction, but I am going to be out almost $400 for his half of what I spent on decorations, food, and bubbly.

I know (from an inside source lol) that the DJ is a friend of his, who gave him a super low rate for the party, and we only used his truck for 2 hours moving tables each way.

How do I get bro to step up?  If he paid full price for the DJ and rented a truck for the weekend, then yes it would be close to a wash, but I think he is overstating his costs to cheap out.

Party Planner

Dear Party Planner,

I have recently been in a very similar situation, so the timing on this question is spot on…!

It’s good that you had an agreement up front as to how things were going to be split… lots of times people feel awkward bringing it up in advance and think it will just work itself out later… Yet for whatever reason, things almost always get awkward when it comes to money.  It’s like a rule of life that no one tells you about.  So here’s Dharma telling you that things almost always get awkward when it comes to money.

And you know what else Dharma always says, right?  Make a list.

Document all of your expenses in a spreadsheet. Send it to him and ask him to do the same and for him to send it over so that you can do a reconciliation and get it all squared away.

If he’s factoring in his time, I’d call him out on it… I’m guessing all the things you did required time as well and that is what should be considered a wash for the both of you.  And I’m also guessing that you used your own vehicle to pick up all the groceries, etc., so that should be a wash too.

Whether or not he tells you the actual cost of the DJ will be the main point of contention, I’m thinking, and you’ll need to decide how to handle that should he inflate the cost beyond what you know he paid.

Seriously, though… this is her husband we are talking about?  I’m thinking the whole cost should have fallen on him, and he’s very fortunate you agreed to chip in to this level in the first place.

If I may add something here… please don’t go to your sister on this.  Going to the guest of honour in regards to any financial fallout on what was her special occasion is just so tacky and is in such bad taste.  She shouldn’t have to feel badly about any of this, and telling her can’t produce any other outcome.  She’ll feel guilty that her party caused any problems and honestly, why would you want to do that?

And yet, people do.  They do exactly that, and it leaves Dharma shaking her head.  And mouthing of a few expletives along the way…

Anyway, hopefully you can get this resolved without it escalating.  If not, you’re going to have to decide if this is a hill to die on.  It will colour the way you think about your BIL for certain, and for sure would say a lot about his character and principles (or lack of) should he not do the right thing… but benefit of the doubt first, right?



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