Tomorrow I start work as a software developer -- my first full time job. Four of my close friends work at the same company. They usually eat lunch in the break room, but for everyone's interviews and first days they've gone out to eat.

We went out to eat after my interview and someone paid for me. My birthday and graduation both happened recently and people paid for me then too. I don't want to make the mistake of assuming that someone will pay for me tomorrow after paying for so many of my meals in the last month.

In cases where I think someone might offer to pay for me I always bring extra money just in case, but right now I don't have any money at all. I plan to pack a sandwich. How can I politely request we skip the whole go-out-to-eat-on-your-first-day tradition without making it seem like I'm asking someone to offer to pay for me?

It's a tradition with my friends, the company is not involved (HR wouldn't help).

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    @Jesse Yeah they are pretty much used to me not having money, and understand because they were also broke when they were in college/had just graduated. (Also not that it matters- just bringing it up cause you said "his", I'm a woman) Commented May 21, 2018 at 5:15

4 Answers 4



Schedule the celebration before your friends do, to a date when you'll have money, preferably payday to keep the celebration's purpose, meaning and excitement.

Let's go celebrate on my first payday, it will be awesome!

As a friend, I would respect that and I think your friends will respect that too, a nice additional gesture to reinforce the message and convey you appreciate their support would be to bring something for them to eat too, that could mean making the nicest sandwiches or something your pantry and your knowledge of your friends' allows. Include notes with a personal touch and hand them early.

"Thank you for all the support, working together is gonna be great!"

Or something more personal, you know them better. If your friends are the type of people who are not uncomfortable eating in adequate public spaces you could make a picnic basket, and that would still be cool.

Although considering the type of friendship you described you have, they might still want to take you out tomorrow but who knows if they'd tell you, don't bring the basket if that's the case as to avoid any undesirable ripple effect, by now you have already shown you don't want to be a burden and you are willing to reciprocate to their nice gestures.

A respectable way to handle lunch time if they take you out anyways, would be to make them company to maintain the excitement, eat something inexpensive and if by any chance you were not satisfied, well, you still have your sandwich waiting for you.

Best of luck with your sensitive situation and congratulations on the new job!


Be honest.

Simply tell them that you can't afford to do so.
If they are your friends then they will understand.

They might offer to treat you or to postpone, or you might arrive at some other solution like offering to pay them back. However the situation ends up being resolved, it's important that you tell them since it may have an impact on other arrangements they might want to make.

It's better to be honest and turn someone down if they offer to pay (or to come to some arrangement) rather than trying to skip the event and not offering any explanation or coming up with some lame excuse (which are both more likely to harm the friendship than being honest, even at the expense of some possible short term awkardness).

  • 1
    "It would be better to turn someone down if they offered to pay..." Why? If I wanted to celebrate with you, that is also a way of celebrating our friendship. If you share that you can't afford it, but then refuse to come out with me even after I offer to treat you, then something doesn't add up. It undercuts the idea that the main reason you are refusing is financial, and it is pretty insulting to folks that you claim to be your friends.
    – Ben I.
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 14:40
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    @BenI. Personally I probably wouldn't refuse the offer, I would rather offer to pay the person back at a later date (i.e. 'to come to some arrangement'), but the OP has indicated that they don't want their friends to pay for them. That said, I don't think saying "I'd rather not go because I can't afford it and I don't want anyone else to pay for me" isn't 'insulting' to one's friends - odd or awkward maybe, but not 'insulting'. Some people simply don't like borrowing money, some people 'borrow' parasitically and some borrow but always repay their debts.
    – Pharap
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 16:48
  • To clarify a mistake: "That said, I don't think saying ... isn't 'insulting' to one's friends" should be "I don't think saying ... is 'insulting' to one's friends".
    – Pharap
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 10:32
  • The thing here is, that OP was already being honest, and that turned into an accumulation of episodes with her friends paying for her and she now wants to be in control of her dignity.
    – J A
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 1:51
  • @BenI. that's understandable but OP doesn't want to make them feel she's taking advantage, the situation has been going for a while now.
    – J A
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 2:44

Pick one friend, the one you're closest to, and email/text/whatever:

Hey, can I ask you to lend me some cash? I'm completely tapped out with the move and everything, and I know it's kind of a tradition to go out for lunch on Day 1 and I just don't have it - the credit card is full too. I'll pay you back on my first payday.

The friend may reply "hey, you're good, we're going to cover it" or may lend you the $20. Either way, you're covered. And nobody else ever needs to know.

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    This is a nice enough advice and common sense strategy to borrow money from a good friend, but don't you think it deviates from what OP asked?
    – J A
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 2:46

Since these are your friends just ask one of them or the group, if they can loan you the money for lunch. This shows you are willing to pay and aren't just assuming they will pay for you but letting them know that you don't have the money right now.

— Hey! Let's go for lunch! —
— Actually I don't have any cash at the moment and I brought lunch. If one of you could lend me a bit until pay day I'd be happy to go. Alternatively put off the celebration until pay day and I'll treat you guys for a change —

Asking for short term loans of small amounts is pretty normal, even more so when it is something like this where you had a different plan that wouldn't have required a loan. Chances are, based on previous experiences you related, they will tell you not to worry they are paying and the situation is resolved. Next most likely is one of them spots you the money and you pay them back.

My assumption here is that you don't mind spending money on lunch as a general rule, you just don't have the cash at the moment. Wanting to cut back on frivolous expenses (certainly I prefer not to eat lunch at a restaurant every day) would be a different question.

  • I agree with the possibility of borrowing money, but this answer deviates from the actual question, don't you think?
    – J A
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 2:09

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