Life and Money With Helaine

Dear Helaine: I like to be generous. A friend and I went to dinner at a restaurant at my recommendation. I tried to pay for our dinner with some gift cards I had. She tried to make me use them only on myself. She spoiled my enjoyment of our dinner. Why couldn’t she just enjoy the dinner and the fact that I wanted to use my gift cards on her? -- Generous Pal

Dear Generous Pal: You mean well, you really do. You wanted to go to a particular restaurant, and you wanted a friend to join you. You wanted to use a gift card, and you absolutely did right to offer to cover the cost of the meal. Personally, I think it’s a bit tacky to use a gift certificate to pay for your share of the bill for a meal and not make that gesture. Clearly, you agree with me!

However, here’s what you can’t do: You can’t force anyone to accept your generosity. No matter how much you wanted to pay the bill, no matter if the person you were dining with could use a bit of financial help, there’s no way. We can’t control other people. As long as you tried to do the right thing, I don’t think you should have allowed it to impact your enjoyment of the meal and time with your friend.

In the future, I would suggest explaining in advance that you have a gift card and would like to use it to cover the both of you. This way, you aren’t putting anyone on the spot, and you can enjoy the meal however you both pay for it.

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