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Money Manners: When dining companions get pushy about the tip

Dear Jeanne and Leonard: When splitting a check with friends, is it any of their business how much of a tip I leave on my portion of the bill? My wife and I were eating at a restaurant with another couple recently, when the husband asked me what I planned to tip. I told him, and he then grilled me on why I was leaving less than he planned to. I felt pressured to increase my tip and resentful of having to defend myself. Wasn’t this guy way out of line?

– Irritated, Ashland, Ore.

Dear Irritated: Did he also ask you why you didn’t finish your beets?

Seriously, a fellow diner who monitors your tip, criticizes what you leave and presses you to leave more is indeed out of line. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to dial down your irritation. It’s not uncommon for dinner companions to consult – but not bully – one another about how much money to leave for the server, and it’s not wrong, either.

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Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My wife and I still haven’t prepared a marital trust because we can’t agree on the division of our assets. “Cindy” and I have been married for more than 30 years and have two adult children, plus I have a grown daughter from an earlier marriage. I want to divide our estate equally among the three children, but Cindy feels strongly that my daughter should not receive an equal share. What should I do?

– Robert P., Sacramento, Calif.

Dear Robert: What you should do is consider the possibility that your wife of 30-plus years has a point. She certainly does if her objection is to leaving your daughter assets that she, your wife, contributed to your marriage.

It’s fair enough for you to split your personal resources any way you like among your three children. But why should the assets you accumulated jointly with your wife be distributed in a manner she disapproves of?

Understand, this isn’t a recommendation that you disinherit your daughter. It’s only a reminder that while she has a claim on your generosity, she doesn’t automatically have a claim on Cindy’s.

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Dear Jeanne and Leonard: I don’t have a car, so I sometimes borrow my friend “Andrea’s.” Normally I ride a bike, but when the weather’s bad I need a car to get to my job or sometimes to do other things. I always return the car on time and with the gas tank as full as it was when I picked up the car.

The problem is, Andrea’s started saying that she doesn’t want to lend me her car anymore because it’s inconvenient for her. Isn’t she being selfish? We’re both graduate students, we’re good friends, and I don’t know how I’ll get to work some days if Andrea won’t let me use her car. After all, it takes a village, right?

– L.S., Arizona

Dear L.S.: We don’t know what village you’re from, but in ours, someone who borrows a friend’s car does more to reciprocate than return it with an undepleted gas tank. Next you’ll be expecting credit for bringing the car back with no new dents.

Look, every mile you drive in Andrea’s car costs her real money. You’ve heard of maintenance and repairs, right? Plus insurance and registration aren’t free. So instead of complaining, you should be acknowledging your friend’s generosity and reciprocating it.

You also should be acknowledging that your regular use of Andrea’s car is inconvenient for her – and unreasonable for you to expect.

Borrowing your friend’s wheels in a pinch is fair enough. But systematically relying on her to hand you the keys is not. Sorry, but it’s time you got acquainted with public transportation. If someone has to be inconvenienced when you need to get someplace, that someone should be you, not Andrea.

Please email your questions about money and relationships to Questions@MoneyManners.net.

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