He Said, She Said: Kicking Your Friends Off Your Meal Plan Gravy Train

This semester I am one of a few people in my friend group with a meal plan. At first, I was happy to pay for my friends’ meals since they had paid for me plenty of times before, but when I recently checked my balance I realized I can’t afford it anymore. How can I tell my friends I have to kick them off the gravy train?

He Said:

College students speak many different languages, but everyone speaks money. I often find myself asking my friends to pay for my meals at Boston College, but I am never dependent on them. I am fully aware of the fact that they reserve the right to spend their meal money as they see fit and that I should not take advantage of their generosity. I imagine that your friends also do not feel entitled to your meal plan. I advise that you inform your friends that you cannot pay for them anymore before you go to the dining hall, or at least before they decide on their orders.

Delivery is the key to successfully communicating your feelings and beliefs to friends, family, business partners, and just about anyone else. You do not want to come off as aggressive and offensive when approaching your friends. Play the “poor college student” card. Explain to your friends that funds are tight and you cannot afford to deplete your meal plan money. They will understand your concerns, because there is a very good chance that they are also in need of cash-otherwise, they would not be mooching off your meal plan. Express your gratitude for all the times they paid for you, but explain that you are not able to offer up your money anymore.

Striking a balance between generosity and self-preservation is a difficult task. We want our friends to like us and value our company, even if that comes at a monetary cost-but it is important to keep tabs on our own personal welfare. Overall, tactful honesty with your friends should solve your issue. As your friends and fellow college students, they will definitely understand your circumstance.

She Said:

After being on a mandatory meal plan for two years, it’s no wonder that your friends automatically head to Lower instead of the grocery store. That being said, your meal plan is your meal plan. You have no obligation to buy anything for anyone-even if you seemingly have the ability to do so (because really, you don’t).

It seems to me that there are a few solutions to friends mooching your meal plan, ranging from subtle to downright aggressive (I’ll leave the degree of bluntness to your choosing). If you’re trying not to rock the boat, simply start to suggest other places for you and your friends to grab food. Gather in someone’s common room and order in-Grub Hub is my personal favorite food delivery site, and they have promotions nearly every weekend. You can even strike a deal: every time you pay for their dinner at Lower, they pay for your takeout-that way, you’re not spending meal plan money and the money (somewhat) evens out.

If you have a little time on your hands, challenge your friend group to be domestic. Make a dinner menu, pick a kitchen, divide up the ingredients, and go shopping. If no car is available for your use, the BC grocery shuttle runs every Sunday to the Star Market on Beacon Street.

Finally, don’t be afraid to just say no. A Flex plan is easy to get and fiscally responsible-the more meal plan money you buy, the more you save. Tell your friends to recognize that you’re a dinner companion to hear about their day-not provide their daily bread.

Marc Francis contributed the “He Said” response.

February 2, 2014

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