It may happen that my coworkers do some activities (not related to our job) in the evening and I am occasionally invited. Or it may happen that for instance for some particular event (birthdays and what not) some people agree to make some gift to someone and everybody else is invited to cover the expenses.

Ideally I would not be against participating in all this stuff but sometimes they are really expensive and I don't think they are worth the money required. For instance it may happen that they want to go to a restaurant where I don't even appreciate the food and that costs 5X the kind of restaurant that I usually go to.

My salary puts me in a position to afford these things without struggling too much financially but I am quite careful with money in my daily life and this really looks like a waste of money to me.

Should I just accept this events as part of the job and consider the expenses as a pay cut and reconsider may current job accordingly? Should I take a stand and avoid these events altogether? Or maybe the best solution is half way between these 2 options?

EDIT: since I have been asked about the frequency of these events, it depends on many factors. I would say it ranges from once a month to twice a week.

  • More details about the specific events and their frequency will get you a more specific answer.
    – sleddog
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:55
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    Possible duplicate of How can I politely decline a team lunch?
    – David K
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 14:14
  • Does this happen so often that a simple "Sorry, not this time" isn't going to fix it? If this is a sometimes-thing, the reason you're not going for once is not important at all.
    – Erik
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 14:16
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    @ChristopherEstep I disagree that a group lunch is essentially "at work". The linked question is not about an official team lunch, just a regular lunch outing of colleagues. The linked question also talks about wanting to decline the off-site lunches. I know for me, if I go get lunch off-site that means a long lunch break (more than my required 0.5hr) which means staying late at the end of the day. That's not usually something I want to do.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 14:09
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    I get that. And you're free to disagree. I'm still not marking it a duplicate because I don't believe it is.
    – Chris E
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 15:37

3 Answers 3


If this was only about lunch it might be one thing, but it seems like this company has a culture of "group spending". What's going to make the difference here is whether there's simply a core group of people who are perpetuating this practice, or whether the whole company embraces it wholeheartedly.

For example, if some people don't participate, simply blend into that crowd. Claim to be busy. I had one coworker who was very friendly if approached in the office, but was very much a loner otherwise. He would tell everyone as much:

Them: Hey, we're going out for beers after work, wanna join?
Him: Sorry guys, social get togethers are just not my thing. I'm gonna go home, walk my dog, and then chill in front of the TV with a beer.

Some of the more aggresive sales guys would call him on it, but he would always remain very friendly, and reiterate his points (I don't like crowds, I'm more of a loner, etc.). He sort of gave me the cover I needed to evade the same events. After all, I was not the only one tapping out.

Now, be aware, however, that it might not be a smart career choice to label yourself as a loner if you're trying to get promoted into certain positions. (this person was a programmer, so being a loner was almost expected anyway)

It's slightly more difficult to maintain this position if the entire office embraces the event mentality, however. If everyone is pitching in for everyone else's presents/parties and you never do, people might take offense. In that situation you may want to go out some of the time, and pitch in a moderate amount when people are buying a gift for a coworker.


"Sorry I cannot join you, I don't have the budget for it right now."

I would be honest and straightforward with my coworkers. Since you say you're quite careful with money, I'm going to assume you have a budget. If the amount you have in your budget for food (or entertainment or whatever you want to classify these outing as) is too small to regularly go on these outings with coworkers, then you can simply and honestly say "It's not in my budget." It doesn't matter whether your salary means that you could have the budget for it - your other financial goals/priorities make it such that there is not room in your budget for the kind of outings your coworkers prefer.

I'd be honest about it being a money issue for a few reasons. First, by being clear it's about your budget, you can reassure your coworkers that it isn't a matter of you not wanting to socialize with them. Second, it provides you with the opportunity to participate in some of the social events as you feel comfortable. Third, it is possible that your coworkers are willing to compromise with you, and choose more affordable places to go for their outings.

Due to the nature of the situation it's possible that your coworkers will take this response (or any response) poorly. At its core this is an issue of differing values/priorities. Your financial values appear to be in conflict with those of your coworkers. I think being aware of that and trying to present your reasoning in a manner that doesn't make judgments about their financial values can help prevent hard feelings.

  • 4
    I'm not going to down vote as I don't think you're wrong but I am not sure I agree about giving colleagues any great detail. I have always accepted or declined these social invites on a case by case basis, normally in a single sentence. It isn't really anyone's business why you choose not to get involved with a social event. My point of view is that the worst case is that they stop inviting me.
    – Dustybin80
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:14
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    Your first sentence seems wrong to me and not "honest and straightforward", as the OP clearly stated that he can in fact afford it: "My salary puts me in a position to afford these things without struggling too much financially". He just does not want to spend that much money for it: "I don't think they are worth the money required."
    – Nras
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:49
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    Dustybin80: Ultimately, you're right - you don't owe anyone an explanation for why you're not attending. However, declining without an explanation means that your coworkers are free to speculate as to why you aren't attending. If you don't mind this, there's no need to offer an explanation, but if you'd prefer to prevent speculation, I'd offer a short explanation. I agree that one shouldn't go into much detail - at most, I'd mention that I'm trying to save money for some goal (house, car, pay off student loans).
    – jbh
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:52
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    Other people can have the annoying tendency to believe that it is up to them what your priorities should be. If you give them a specific reason, they have a specific priority to advise you on. I believe that remaining generic is better here. Being considered "cheap" is not the ideal epithet that may arise from honesty. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:55
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    @Nras There is a difference between being able to afford something and having room in your budget for it, in my opinion. If OP has earmarked the money that they would be spending on social events for some other purpose, then they don't have the budget for it. The US Government has enough financial resources to pay every citizen $10,000 a year, but that doesn't mean that there is room in the budget to do so.
    – jbh
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 16:00

There are three things lunch, after work, and gifts.

To me to expect an amount on gifts is just not fair. But not participating is also putting you at most exposure. Here I think you need to go with your gut feel.

Dinner is what can get expensive and to me more optional. If you say out of my budget then it could come off as they are spending frivolously. I would just decline with thank you I have plans.

Lunch you can also decline with I have other plans. You can ask the place and just say I don't really like the food there. They may figure out you don't like food at expensive places. Here accept a few lunches as you feel comfortable for the socialization.

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