I Think It’s Time We Split Up

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My friends and I fully embraced #microtravel this weekend, and just got back from an anniversary dinner in Nanaimo, BC. I could’ve theoretically gone alone, but my need to financially optimize things brought me to two conclusions: 1) “The more the merrier”, and 2) in order to avoid paying the entire cost of my trip, it made sense to split the bill with as many people as possible. Obviously, schlepping off some of the financial burden on friends is a morally questionable position, but allow me to elaborate. For me, financial optimization isn’t just about keeping more money in my pocket. It’s also about finding a win-win situation for everyone. Here’s our story.

In order to get to Nanaimo, we had to take a ferry. Our ferry ticket there was $106.65 for my car and three people. I’d brought my roommate who happens to enjoy my Nanaimo friends’ company, and one other friend who was attending the party already, though she would’ve gone on foot. They appreciated the direct ride to Nanaimo though, so the two of them ponied up the cost of our first ticket in full. Immediate savings to me: $74.70 for me and my car. When we got there, we all had a great time at dinner, and my roommate and I stayed for two nights in a $10/night room. He didn’t need a private room of his own, so savings to him: $20. Then, because our dinner was so huge, my Nanaimo friends decided to share the wealth, and we were treated to a second dinner with all the leftovers! Two great homemade meals instead of eating out: ~$40 in savings between us. And since my roommate appreciated the impromptu vacation, he took me out for a night of beers: $20! I paid for the ferry ride back. It seemed only fair. Through our entire 3-day vacation, we all included each other as much as possible to save everyone money. Everyone felt taken care of, we all made great memories, and a trip that would’ve cost me $250 alone became half that. Friends are awesome already, but when you have a bunch of them all working towards a common goal, you can all literally profit! Here’s another example.

I had a friend paying $115/month for a 3GB phone plan. Obviously, that’s terrible, so I started asking other friends what their plans were. Answers included $70 with fewer bells and whistles, all the way up to $150! My situation was super weird because I’d complained a lot at Rogers – I’m currently sitting on a 17GB plan – so I let my family join my Share Everything plan to save them some money. Months later, there was still no way I was blowing through that much data, so I signed my friends up too. Now, I have six people on my plan and their monthly cost to cover their lines is only ~$50/person! It turns out 17GB split across six people is just about perfect. Because I had an overabundance (of data, in this case) and split it across five other people, everyone benefitted. You’ll often find splitting one big thing across multiple people is more cost-effective than everyone paying for an individual portion, so why aren’t more people doing this?!?

We already do this by taking on roommates. We already do this with group rates at events. We already do this every time we order a huge plate of nachos for the table. Why don’t we do this for everything?!?

Look for the win-win situation. Bring extra friends to split the cost of a hotel room when you’re going somewhere anyway. They might dig a spontaneous vacation. (I do this for business trips all the time.) Order the 60-piece sushi combo and get everyone to chip in. You’ll all get more variety, and everyone’s meal will be, like, $8. On a road trip, don’t be afraid to ask for gas money. We’re all in this together. I once drove five people home after a party, and they all kept trying to hand me cash because none of them had to blow $20 on a taxi. Share your WiFi with your neighbour and split the bill. Split the cost of an amazing router if you have to, but you live right next to each other. Take advantage of that! Let’s just share everything and split the cost.

If we all did this, we’d all be richer and happier. Go frugal with friends. It just might save the world.

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I’m A Generosity Addict and That’s Not Okay

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I can’t remember which I bought first for her: the PS3 or the PS2.

This was years ago with our friend J. She was an avid gamer, and I was still riding the high of a successful wedding season, so I was feeling generous. I was like an Asian Oprah. (“YOU GET A PLAYSTATION, YOU GET A PLAYSTATION, YOU GET A PLAYSTATION!”) Seriously, I think I’ve gifted six or seven PlayStation consoles to my friends now. I seem to go apeshit every Christmas and it always seems like a good idea at the time, so I do it every year. Well, J dated one of my other friends and we lost her in the breakup. We haven’t seen her in months now, and that investment in our friendship is gone. In the end, the gifts I bought her were just Stuff, and therein lies the problem.

Say it with me: STUFF. IS. MEANINGLESS.

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you already know that, but my generosity addiction didn’t end there. It extended into my dating life too! I once blew $200 on a first date with someone I didn’t even know! WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH ME? Was I compensating? Probably. WHY DO I ASSOCIATE LITERALLY SACRIFICING MONEY WITH SHOWING AFFECTION OR FRIENDSHIP TO PEOPLE? Well, I’m not opening that door here, but I know some of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about. Do you buy too many toys for your kid, thinking more action figures directly translate into showing them love? Have you ever bought an expensive concert ticket for a date when you know they’re not even a fan? Do you break the bank for your extended family when, deep down, you know all they really want is to spend more time with you? STOP SUBSTITUTING STUFF FOR ACTUAL LOVE.

For those of you who don’t obsessively read self-development articles, here’s a goddamn truth bomb: People accept love in different ways, and 9 times out of 10, buying them Stuff is the absolute worst way to go about it.

If you’re the type to be overly generous in a way that costs you money, seriously reevaluate how you give to the people you love. Stuff is meaningless. Be generous with your time instead, and spend that time with your friends, family, and romantic partners. Save your money.

They’ll remember the time you watched their favourite movie with them. No one remembers who bought the fucking TV.