What To Do With A Cheap Co-Worker? (Your Advice)

Your Advice - help answer readers' questionsSometimes we are forced to deal with people who have money habits that can be extremely annoying to us. This is the case with the following reader who is having trouble with one of her coworkers:

I have a problem with one of my coworkers who is just plain cheap. When we go out for office lunches, she will calculate whether it is to her advantage for everyone to pay individually for what they purchased or to split the check evenly among all the people there. She always chooses the option in her favor.

When it comes to office gifts, she often lies about her donation. She is the one in charge of collecting the money, and she takes a bit from everybody else’s donation and pretends that it is hers.

Fridays are our office bring in a snack day. I have never seen her bringing snacks, but she always takes more than her fair share of those that others bring in. In fact, she will often wrap them up in napkins to take home.

How do you deal with somebody like this? Unfortunately it is somebody that I have to work with so it is impossible for me to just ignore. Since she is the office manager, I’m concerned about confronting her directly because I fear it will cause problems in other areas of my work if I get on her bad side. She is also very chummy with our boss so I can’t go directly over her head in this situation either.

I feel that I’m in a no-win situation, but it annoys me to no end when I see her doing these things. Do you have any suggestions of what I might be able to do to solve the situation?

If you found yourself in the same situation, what steps would you take to try and resolve it and what advice would you give to this person?

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15 Responses to What To Do With A Cheap Co-Worker? (Your Advice)

  1. Michael says:

    People like this will never “get it.” It doesn’t sound like it affects your pocket book too much, so the best thing is to try and ignore it. Doing anything about it will make you look petty because each instance is a minor transgression. Someone that hasn’t been keeping score will think less of you for it.
    So in short, my (non)advice is to ignore it as best you can.

  2. Duane says:

    Michael is right to advise you to ignore it, but I do think you can mitigate the meal issue by suggesting in advance of receiving the bill how you will split it.

  3. A Tentative Personal Finance Blog says:

    I would just confront them about it. Sweep the leg Johnny.

  4. Teri says:

    Eh, I don’t know if it is worth doing anything over. Really it’s her loss. Ig it was me I’d just ignore her.

  5. mike says:

    Perhaps you should give her a break. You don’t know anything about her finances. Perhaps she is in over her head, and only goes to lunch with you so as not to be embarrassed by saying she can’t afford to go out lunch.

  6. Teri Newton says:

    So much for bad typing. Just wanted to say if it was me I would ignore “it.” Not necessarily ignore “her.” But really not much to get worked up about. Much more important things to worry about. I’d just let it go.

  7. Amy F. says:

    I am inclined to agree with other commentors about not saying anything, but this type of behavior would really annoy me, too. If you feel you must do something (sometimes we have to say something just to relieve our own stress, whether it’s really a good idea to or not) I would make occasional “joking” comments to her that subtly let her know that you’re onto her without you actually having to confront her. This way, no one can accuse you of being mean or confrontational. If she is in a bad financial situation, you won’t have put your foot in your mouth. But if she’s merely taking advantage of her co-workers out of pure selfishness, maybe the knowledge that other people are onto her will get her to curb her behavior. Have any of your other co-workers noticed or complained about her?

    I sort of see where she’s coming from, though. I am lucky enough to work in an office where I never have to go out to lunch with coworkers, donate to gift funds, or bring in snacks. These things can really add up and, tight budget or not, some people simply don’t want to deal with the extra expenses that some jobs throw at you. Some of us want to bring our own cheap lunches and pick out our own snacks.

    Maybe she’s also being bombarded with baby showers and wedding showers and is just tired of people subtly asking for her money all the time, like Carrie on Sex and the City. 🙂

  8. so9 says:

    There should be a consensus on how payment will be made when the group goes out to lunch. No one person should be able to manipulate the situation to their benefit.

  9. so9 says:

    It is completely dishonest to collect funds from others, including subordinates, and not give them credit for their donations.

    As a supervisor, you would think that she would have the skills to manage her way around difficult situations without affecting the sanctitiy of the office culture.

    Are you required to go out to lunch with the group? Or, can you respectfully decline?

  10. KT07 says:

    What if every member of your group will have to write a check, not give a cash? So this way you can control her donation.

  11. Karin says:

    I agree that co-workers behavior is very annoying. Espically since she is the office manager. I assume she makes a decent amount of money and should contribute the same as everyone else. Unfortunatly since she is your manager, there is really nothing you can do. People like your co-worker never change. They are always going to be cheap.

  12. Flexo says:

    Some people are cheap. It may be annoying but there are a lot worse things in the world. Oh, and just because this woman has a certain position, it doesn’t mean she isn’t struggling to pay her own bills… for all you know she could be supporting an aging relative, etc.

    I would say that if her attitude bothers you, don’t spend time with her and find another way to do co-worker contributions. You’re not going to be able to change her behavior.

  13. R says:

    It rather annoying dealing with cheap and dishonest people. It isunfortunate that you have to deal with this at least five days a week. When going to lunch with this staff person, ask for separate checks when you order your meal. As for the gift giving, purchase you own gifts. Eventhough, you may appear selfish and not team player. Take that risk or find another job.

  14. MoneyNing says:

    I think it might be a good idea to stimulate a comment amongst your peers to see if they see the same thing.

    You don’t have to explicitly say what you want to say but try to steer a conversation about this area and see if someone mentions her. Whether someone else talks about it or not might give you more clues on how to move forward.

  15. lisa says:

    I think I’d say something in front of everyone.. What did you bring for snack? would be a nice start. Sometimes cheapness can get the best of us and we forget. It has happend to me before. Once someone told me to live a little I lightened up..

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