Should you Inconvenience A Friend To Save Yourself Money?

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This last week I have found myself trying to make a decision about something that would save me money but inconvenience a friend.  I have sat with acquaintances as they shared their frustration about individuals who are always asking favors.  None of us want to be ‘that person’.  Yet, there are some situations where asking a friend to do something will only inconvenience them a little and will save you a lot.

Recently I posted on the difference between frugal and cheap.  Today I am wondering if what I did was frugal or cheap.  Photo by StuSeeger

Here was my situation: Should I ask a friend to book and front some money for plane tickets to save me $95?

I was online trying to get tickets for my family to fly from Sydney, Australia – Brisbane, Australia.  We were purchasing tickets through Qantas Airlines.  When it came time for the booking I found out that Qantas charges $7.70 per person to buy tickets with a credit card.  This would have added $30.80 to our tickets.  The second major factor is that I had purchased some Australian dollars back when 1 AUD cost .63 cents US.  At the time of my booking 1 AUD would cost me .80 cents.  The moral of the story is if I asked my friend in Sydney (who we are going to visit) to purchase the tickets for me and use Bill Pay (a free service that avoids $30.80 in charges) I would save $95.  I would save $65 from the currency difference and $30 for the credit card fee.  Instead of paying $295 US for the tickets, they would only cost $200 US.

The biggest disadvantage is that I don’t really have a good way to get the money to my friend before we arrive in Sydney.  In other words, it would require her to front 315 AUD for about six weeks until I can pay her back.

What would you do?  Would you pay the difference?  Would you ask your friend?

Here is what I did – I asked my friend.

Here are some criteria you can use to evaluate if you should ask a friend to help you save money:

  1. How much are they going to be inconvenienced compared to how much are you going to save?
  2. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4 NIV)

    At times when it comes to asking someone for help we simply do not factor in their time and money cost.  For example, if you can save renting a car by having someone pick you up from the airport, ask yourself – how much is the gas, tolls, and time going to cost them?

  3. How culturally acceptable is the practice?  Every culture has limits to how much you can and should depend on others.  As Christians we need to operate within the realm of cultural acceptability.  We do not want to stand out as one who is overly dependent on others.  On the other hand, the church is a helping community where there is mutual assistance.
  4. Apply the golden rule.
  5. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39 NIV)

    Don’t ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t be as equally passionate to do.  Ask yourself, “How would I feel if X asked me to do Y?”  If you would be happy to help someone, then it is probably appropriate to ask them for help.

  6. How do they feel about the task?  Take the example above.  My friend was a travel agent who is comfortable booking tickets.  Don’t ask a friend who hates driving in traffic to drop you off downtown.
  7. What is your history with the friend? Every relationship is built on a simple give and take foundation.  This does not mean you need to be in the habit of counting favors, but be aware of the fact that you do not always want to be a receiving recipient in a relationship because that relationship likely will not continue for long.
  8. Is there a win-win situation?  At times you may want to split the difference with a friend (again depending on your relationship).  Other friends may be honored by a gift or a thoughtful thank you card.
  9. Consider personalities. Some people love helping others – it is a thrill for them.  Those friends would be offended if you offered to compensate them.  Some people spend money on the most expensive option regardless of the situation.  That would not be the kind of friend to ask to go out of their way to save you a few bucks.

What about you?  How do you decide when you should and shouldn’t inconvenience a friend to save yourself a few dollars?


  1. Charlie says

    I think I would offer some amount of the savings to the friend both for their time and for “carrying charges on the money – maybe 25% of the 95 saved?

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