Drinking in the Financial Drama
July 25, 2008 1:59 PM   Subscribe

My roommate and I split evenly the cost of groceries and household items. However, we have dramatically different alcohol consumption habits. What's the fairest way to split the cost of alcohol in our household? And is there a way for me to raise the issue with her without creating drama?

My roommate and I have been friends for a decade and have lived together for five years with almost no conflict. We are very compatible in almost every way and have similar habits, and we split most household expenses, including rent, utilities, food and other necessities (e.g., toilet paper, cleaning supplies) evenly.

The only major difference in our consumption habits is in our drinking. While neither of us drinks a lot, we relate to alcohol in the apartment differently. Neither of us are heavy drinkers, but if there's alcohol in the house, she goes through it a lot more quickly than I do.

For example, about a month ago, we bought two cases of wine (24 bottles, about $200 worth, the cost of which we split evenly). I have consumed exactly half a bottle. She has consumed 11.5 bottles (some by herself at home, and some with friends or by bringing it to parties as hostess gifts).

I like keeping alcohol in the house so that I can have a drink on the fairly rare occasion when i want one. However, if I bring it into the house, it's gone by the time I want to drink it, and I end up heavily subsidizing her habits. I'd prefer not to have a "secret stash" or otherwise hide my alcohol because of hangups about drinking alone (child of an alcoholic). Plus, then we can't have a drink together when we're hanging out, because I have to hide from her that I have alcohol after she's run out.

Is there a way to say "I only want to pay 1/10 of the alcohol bill" without souring the fantastic arrangement we have in every other area of our lives? I really don't want to wreck a good thing, and it might be worth a few hundred dollars a year to avoid tension in the friendship. I definitely don't want to get into a situation where we're niggling over who owes whom $5, because we've done so well at avoiding that sort of stress for the last five years. But this is hundreds of dollars, so it feels different.

Is there any way to make this situation more equal? Should I suck it up? Be honest? Other thoughts?
posted by decathecting to Human Relations (49 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everyone buys their own booze? That's how it always worked when I lived with roommates.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 2:03 PM on July 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Why not just tell that while you think your arrangements are great in every other way, you think that you should each purchase your own alcohol from now on. I think it's perfectly fair, and infact, I've never heard of roommates splitting the cost of alcohol like they do groceries and everything else.
posted by All.star at 2:03 PM on July 25, 2008


Be honest. Why should it be a big deal?

"Look, I don't drink as much as you do, but I do want to have alcohol I like on hand. From now on, can we buy alcohol separately and only share with consent?"

She should be able to acquire the alcohol to satisfy herself without your help.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:04 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Hey, I think I'm going to stop drinking so much, so lets just buy our own alcohol from now on".

End of story. She buys her own, you buy your own (when you will consume it), and you can even label it. If you feel weird about labeling, do this:

When she brings alcohol into the house, take a piece of tape, write her name on it, and stick it on the bottles/cans. If she asks, just say "oh yeah, i didnt want to accidentally drink it so I put your name on it". Do that 1-3 times, then stop. Either she will start doing it from then on...or if she doesn't at least she will know that you will label all your stuff. Make sure you label your stuff.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:06 PM on July 25, 2008


This is a toughie. I suspect it's also a bit more fraught for you than it would be for other people, because of your family history. However, I would try to deal with it just like any other "consumption of resources" roommate issue.

For instance, I had a roommate who liked to keep the heat at 80+ all winter. I'm from New England and don't mind keeping the themostat at 65 and wearing a sweater. So finally I just said, "hey, it seems like you like to keep the heat higher. I can't really afford the heating bills. Could we either keep the thermostat lower or could you maybe pay a higher proportion of the heat?" She ended up paying 80% of the heating bill.

Of course, this worked because we both knew she was turning the heat up more than I was. So you have two jobs: one, to let your roommate know she's drinking more wine, and two, to try to figure out a better way to divvy it up.

What about if you just went to her and said "you know, I've noticed that I don't really drink that much anymore. Could we take that out of the things we buy communally?"
posted by lunasol at 2:07 PM on July 25, 2008


Kudos! I don't know any roommates who split food and booze. I don't even know any couples who totally split that stuff - so it's cool that you guys get on so well. I think you should suck up the case you already bought, but that you shouldn't do it again. A person who drinks two glasses of wine a month has no reason to be buying 12 bottles at a time. So I wouldn't complain about past actions that you agreed to, but if she brings it up again just say "hey, you know me, I hardly even drink, I don't know what I was thinking last time." She's obviously going to keep wine around, so you should just drink hers on the rare occasions you feel like it and then go buy her a replacement bottle the next day. If she has a problem with that, then she's being unfair - but cross that bridge when you come to it.
posted by moxiedoll at 2:07 PM on July 25, 2008


I think you could gently point out that you've got vastly different alcohol consumption (example what you've just said here) and that maybe because of that, you should each buy your own. That means that if you buy some, she respects it as yours and doesn't touch it. If she runs out, go ahead and share a drink or two - but that's it.

Does she respect your boundaries if you go and, say, buy ice cream for yourself - it sticks around til you eat it? If not, you've got a bigger problem that you'll have to face head on.
posted by canine epigram at 2:07 PM on July 25, 2008


Here's an idea off the top of my head: next time you buy alcohol, pay the price yourself. Figure out how much it costs per bottle/can. Then make a change box. So every time she wants a bottle/can, she'll pay x amount of dollars for it, drops it in the box, and the money's yours. 2 bottles, 2x, etc. Pass this idea to her and see if she's ok with it. You don't have to follow the idea verbatim; I just want to get the change-box idea through.
posted by curagea at 2:09 PM on July 25, 2008


Address it now--don't wait. And don't make a big deal about it.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:09 PM on July 25, 2008


Another idea - I once bought a bunch of wine with roommates (somebody had access to a great deal) and so we put a sheet on the fridge. We didn't divvy it up ahead of time, we just knew that each of us had paid for eight bottles (or whatever it was) and put a tally mark next to our name whenever we took one. So everybody got their money's worth and there wasn't some horrible Tragedy of the Commons race to drink your share before somebody else did. It still seems like it might not be the best plan for you, though, since you'll end up with a whole cellar's worth of surplus in no time.
posted by moxiedoll at 2:16 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Totally shouldn't be a big deal for everyone to buy and consume their own. Naturally, there's nothing wrong with offering a friend(whether it's your room mate or other friends) a drink when you choose to imbibe, as long as they respect your property when you're not offering.

There are some good examples of how to bring it up earlier in the thread, so I won't repeat those. Make sure you're clear that you're not resentful about the way this case of wine has worked out, you just want to change the way that's handled in the future.
posted by owtytrof at 2:17 PM on July 25, 2008


I think moxiedoll's definitely got the right idea. If you drink that rarely, better to just not buy it at all and reimburse her stash on "the rare occasion" you do want some than to have to have a big conversation about it.
posted by booknerd at 2:20 PM on July 25, 2008


She has consumed 11.5 bottles (some by herself at home, and some with friends or by bringing it to parties as hostess gifts

Ah, here we go.

Perhaps you could divvy up next time in three categories: yours, mine and ours. Some wine you plan to share. Some wine is yours, some wine is hers, for times when you need a hostess gift or wanna break out the vino with friends. Sounds like you want to be able to have a bottle in the fridge that both can access without being anal or without the pressure to drink more than you want before it goes off.

That way you have a guaranteed amount around, expenses are still shared, and hopefully everyone is happy. If you wind up with more bottles at the end, let her "purchase" some next time she needs a hostess gift.
posted by konolia at 2:32 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


The thing is, she's never going to bring it up. In fact, she'll probably never even buy or suggest buying alcohol if I don't. She usually buys what she wants in smaller quantities when she wants it, whereas I'm the one who likes to buy in bulk (it's cheaper, and then it's there when I want it for myself or for parties or whatever). I'm just more of a planner. This has actually been a little bit of an issue in that I stock up on lots of grocery/toiletry items when they're on very cheap sale and then she uses them, but since we pay those bills equally and use pasta/shampoo/cereal at about the same rate, it doesn't bother me much.

So after this wine runs out, what, specifically, do I do? If I bring home a case of wine and write my name on it and then leave it in the dining room for 6 months, drinking a bottle every other week, I feel like that sets up a very weird dynamic between us where I'm all of a sudden being selfish with resources I've never been selfish with before. And if I want to have a conversation with her about it, how do I start the conversation? I've never understood how these, "Hey, by the way, something you've been doing has been bugging me for months and I haven't said anything until now" conversations are supposed to start.
posted by decathecting at 2:41 PM on July 25, 2008


Stop splitting the alcohol bill. Keep splitting the rest of it.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:42 PM on July 25, 2008


Buy your own. She can continue buying hers in small batches as she does now.

The stockpile is officially then, yours. Don't sweat the small stuff, but a missing bottle should be replaced or reimbursed. If you go back in two weeks and half your case is gone... she'll have some splaining to do.


I lived with my best friend for a year and we split absolutely everything... but not alcohol. Sure, he could have a beer or six because he didnt stop at the vendor and I bought a 24, but he'd always get me back in some way. It was also easy to give my friend a few beers when he's in the kitchen making a gourmet meal that was 100% free-to-me. So I guess what I'm saying is that the reimbursement can take multiple forms... but you gotta talk to her.
posted by utsutsu at 2:52 PM on July 25, 2008


Could you sell her the rest of the bottles, or at least half of them? You could tell her you noticed she just ran out, and you aren't really drinking it.
posted by clearlydemon at 2:53 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


This issue isn't just going to go away. To start the conversation, try not buying any wine, and mention when she asks where the wine is, that you just haven't bought any because you didn't fancy any. If she pushes the issue, you figured that she'd get some if she wanted some.

Or, buy a nice bottle of wine, make a big fuss about keeping it as a treat, and leave it lying about. If she drinks it, there's your opener. Even better if she's only drinking it because "it's there".

Or, try going shopping together, and asking her how much wine she wants. Another opener. Just keep the conversation about the wine, rather than about the annoying habit.
posted by Solomon at 2:58 PM on July 25, 2008


Your booze stays in your space. You're roommates not married. Keep it seperate. Don't even talk about it. You know the answer to this... Or you subsidize your roommates boozing habits. Your choice.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 2:59 PM on July 25, 2008


So after this wine runs out, what, specifically, do I do?

Talk to her. Tell her what you told us. Come to an accommodation that works for you both. You've had lots of good advice on what that should be, but first, you have to talk to her.
posted by bonehead at 3:10 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Each pay your own instead of some wishy washy "I only want to pay 1/10 of the alcohol bill" thing. That just leaves the door open to quibbling about "You're wrong, I really only drink 17/20 of the booze" etc. Which is a headache you don't want.
posted by juv3nal at 3:13 PM on July 25, 2008


Okay, I've made a heap of assumptions here so bear with me :) You guys have no dramas because you never let stuff turn into them. The reason this has you stumped is because it's an awkward issue for you. I'm inclined to think she's not aware how little you had?? (It would just seem odd that she would expect more of the same??) I'm also assuming that if this were about ice-cream or whatever it would be sorted and left behind by now.

I'm sure she knows your tale so maybe come at this from a "We need to keep things just the way they are because this is great! There's alcohol around, it's enjoyed and this is all healthy. To be honest I'm actually inclined to just keep paying, provided it's always in the house! :) Although us figuring out a way for this to cost me less would be cool too."

Disregard me if I missed the point but you need it freely and comfortably in the house with no weird unfriendly rules about it. You like it and want to be a part of it, purely because that is a satisfying feeling, even though you don't care for it that much. Still go halves but maybe she could offer you kick-backs (dinners, treats, whatever... you going halves does enable her to get it cheaper after all) and it can all be discreetly squared up.

And hey, even if I'm way off... it could be feasible type story?? Your conundrum rather than her misdeed and a customary rift of consequences.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 3:14 PM on July 25, 2008


Booze is not groceries. Buy your own.
posted by xmutex at 3:18 PM on July 25, 2008


So after this wine runs out, what, specifically, do I do?

Don't buy more wine. Especially a case. You don't drink much, so buying a case of wine is not like buying a case of toilet paper. It is like buying 500 cases of toilet paper.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:20 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Buy a case of wine split the cost. Then get two boxes and label them with your names. Then when somebody opens a bottle of wine they put the cork in the box with their name in it. When the case has gone you have a nice visualization of how the consumption has gone and you can do the math for the next case so as to even it up. It would also avoid having to deal with the money constantly which could end up being a source of tension in itself.

The problem in these situations, is not so much, I think, that people take small things so much as the cumulative effect of these. The trouble is the act itself seems small but we are not able to see how it all adds up. Having an easy way to visualize might help.
posted by tallus at 3:26 PM on July 25, 2008


Keep it in your room, just as you would anything else that's not part of the shared dynamic. I am also the child of an alcoholic, so I completely get your not wanting to hide it or feel that you must drink alone, but if it's not in shared space, she'll have to breach protocol to take it. If it's in shared space, especially since you share so much, it's different. Also nthing just don't buy so much, especially if you don't drink it. I've gone from a beginner collector to buying the right bottle for a particular day, and then I don't have all the ACOA angst about having it around.

If she's not a pantry-builder, she may not see your stocking-up as anything other than "oh, how nice that decathecting gets all this stuff! I am sure that if I take too much, we will talk about it."
posted by catlet at 3:30 PM on July 25, 2008


Buy your own wine, and store it in your room. Since you don´t want to drink alone, don´t drink in your room alone, ever. Let the roommate know that you want to take alcohol off the ¨shared¨ list. If you want to get out a bottle to share with her, just say you had been saving it so the two of you could sit down and have a glass of wine or for a potluck.
posted by yohko at 4:00 PM on July 25, 2008


I'd start the conversation with this:

"You and I have been friends for a decade and have lived together for five years with almost no conflict. We are very compatible in almost every way and have similar habits. I like this, and I don't want to sour the fantastic arrangement we have in every other area of our lives. I really don't want to wreck a good thing, and it might be worth a few hundred dollars a year to avoid tension in the friendship. I definitely don't want to get into a situation where we're niggling over who owes whom $5, because we've done so well at avoiding that sort of stress for the last five years. But this is hundreds of dollars, so it feels different. So I want to talk to you about this.

"You see, about a month ago, we bought two cases of wine. I have consumed exactly half a bottle. You have consumed 11.5 bottles (some by yourself at home, and some with friends or by bringing it to parties as hostess gifts).

"I like keeping alcohol in the house so that I can have a drink on the fairly rare occasion when I want one. However, if I bring it into the house, it's gone by the time I want to drink it. I'd prefer not to have a "secret stash" or otherwise hide my alcohol because of hangups about drinking alone (I'm the child of an alcoholic). Plus, then we can't have a drink together when we're hanging out, because I have to hide from you that I have alcohol after you've run out."

(You should recognize all of this from your post. You explain yourself very well.)

Then I'd say, "How would you like to handle this? I'd like to come up with something that we both think is fair."

Once she starts talking, if the ideas don't flow, make some of the suggestions above.

- Capri
posted by Capri at 4:10 PM on July 25, 2008


BYOB
posted by stenseng at 4:16 PM on July 25, 2008


Honestly, although it's probably "better" to have respective stashes and write names on bottles, I think that would be weird. I lived in a similar living situation and it would have ruined the dynamic to start writing names on things. I think your best option as a very occasional wine drinker is to STOP BUYING CASES OF WINE. From your last comment it sounds like you do the shopping, and when there's no wine she buys her own. So why don't you just start buying it one bottle at a time and keep it in your room? If she's wondering why you're hiding it, tell her it's a nicer bottle and since you don't drink very much you want something nice when you do, and you didn't want her to have to pay for more expensive wine. Plus you didn't wants guests going through the 'nice' wine. Then you guys can split a bill for some cheap, decent table wine that guests can have. You may not drink as much of that but 20 bucks is probably worth maintaining the good vibes.
posted by rooftop secrets at 4:19 PM on July 25, 2008


Capri, I actually literally meant, how do I start the conversation? That is, what are we doing and where are we when I say the first words, and what should those words be?

Do I turn to her one night when we're watching TV and say, "You know, we've been friends for ten years...?" When we're having dinner and talking about which party we want to go to on Friday, I interrupt and say, "Something's been bothering me for a while...?" At the grocery store when she has given no though whatsoever to buying any alcohol (because she's not in the mood to drink at that exact second), while I'm trying to decide whether to throw a six pack of beer in the cart, I say "From now on, I'm just going to pay for this beer myself, because I don't want you to drink it all?" Because any of those seem really weird. The last one would be weirdest of all.

I think I understand what the options are for things I could say during the conversation, including the things I've said in the post. But I have no idea when and where and how to begin such a conversation, given that it will never come up naturally.
posted by decathecting at 4:24 PM on July 25, 2008


"I actually literally meant, how do I start the conversation?"

How about the next time you do planning for grocery shopping?
posted by epersonae at 4:40 PM on July 25, 2008


"... But I have no idea when and where and how to begin such a conversation, given that it will never come up naturally."
posted by decathecting at 7:24 PM on July 25

I can tell you how not to start it. Do not start it, as I once did, when you come home to find that a $500 bottle of commemorative single malt Scotch you were given as a bonus for successfully completing a 2 year long project ahead of schedule and under budget, has 3/4 disappeared down the gullets of several of her friends, who don't even like Scotch, because it was "all we had in the house, and we felt like a drink."

Just trot the topic out, tonight or tomorrow night. No clever introduction is going to sugar coat it, if she's going to take it the wrong way.
posted by paulsc at 4:40 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


So after this wine runs out, what, specifically, do I do?

It doesn't sound like you drink a whole lot. It's great you're trying to be more economical, but don't buy cases or expensive lots of alcohol.

Honesty is the best way to deal with this, but if you don't want to have to talk about this with your friend, don't buy more than you can afford to lose. Buy one or two bottles of wine a week. A six pack of beer or whatever, but not expensive mass quantities. It sounds like you shop together sometimes. This is good. If you pick out a bottle or two and she picks her bottle per week, you're not out a ton of money. If she runs out and wants more she should have the decency to buy more and not charge you.

If you're shopping together, gush over a bottle you've been wanting to try and just buy that one bottle. She will now know that this is special to you and will hopefully ask you before she opens it. She might ask you if you would like to share it. Depending on your mood you could say, "I'm not in the mood for a drink right now, can we save it for another day?" If by chance she drinks the bottle without consulting with you first, you could say something like, "Hey, friend. Do you know where that Red is?"

Gifts should not be your responsibility and nothing you shouldn't be able to bring up to discuss with her.
posted by LoriFLA at 4:44 PM on July 25, 2008


I understand your problem about when/where to bring the issue up and start the conversation that you have decided to have - that's often the hardest part.

How about bringing it up next time you two sit down and have a drink together - mention how, wow, this is the first glass of wine you've had for (however many days/weeks)! And that as it seems you've not been drinking much recently....

Or, like you said, when you're both at the supermarket together, as you walk past the alcohol aisle say, hey, I fancy some wine, but as I really don't drink much anymore do you mind if we don't include the alcohol in our normal grocery splitting? And if we do want to share a bottle of wine one night we'll buy it as-and-when.

I know it seems awkward and potentially tension-inducing bringing it up with her, but I bet once you've talked to her she will totally understand, especially if she's sucha good friend, and it won't be the issue you thought it would be.
posted by schmoo at 4:47 PM on July 25, 2008


Are the two dozen bottles gone? If so, then at some point when you're both together, just say "Hey roomy, do you mind if we don't go halves in booze from now on? I just realised that I don't drink as much as I think I did, and only actually had a couple of glasses out of those two dozen bottles. Maybe it'd be easier to just get our own stuff from now on. Whaddya say?"

It sounds like you've got a great relationship. I'm sure that once you've started it, the actual words you used wont be hugely important and you'll be able to sort it out.
posted by twirlypen at 5:13 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I actually literally meant, how do I start the conversation?

I'd say, next time you guys are hanging out and using something that's shared (cooking dinner? and saying "man, this seasoning mix you found is damn tasty!"), or even as obviously as having a glass of wine while watching tv, or maybe while you're windexing the bathroom mirror and saying "hey, next time we shop, we need windex, couldya add it to the list on the fridge...", throw this out there...

"Hey, while I'm thinking about it, I wanted to talk to you about our wine supply. I'm not trying to be a tightass about all of this, but alcohol is pricey and I really only have a glass or two every now and then. Would you be cool with each of us having our own wine/alcohol supply? I know we share everything else and I'm really happy with our arrangement since it's worked out really well - remember Amy's crazy roommate story? Haha! So yeah, I'm still cool with splitting food and all that other stuff, but I can't really afford to spring for wine every other week. What do you think?"

Don't bring up how for every 1/2 bottle you drink, she (and her guests) go through the rest of the case - she might get defensive. (I sure would! :) I'd say keep it light, and if she's not receptive, I'd be surprised, especially considering that you guys sound like really good friends already. I came into the roommate game late (never lived in a dorm, first roommate at 26). I've found that keeping issues light, non-confrontational, but HONEST is the best way to address concerns. A lot of times, these conversations are awkward to have, but once you say it, it's out there, and it's not nearly as big of a deal as you thought it was :)
posted by AlisonM at 5:17 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


whoops, meant to add this too:

I have no idea when and where and how to begin such a conversation, given that it will never come up naturally.

I've found that "oh, that reminds me..." or "now that I'm thinking about it..." (it being shared stuff, not necessarily liquor), is a really good way to bring up a lot of things that might not come up otherwise.
posted by AlisonM at 5:24 PM on July 25, 2008


It occurs to me that your friend is NOT a total idiot and realizes she has used the lion's share of the wine. Perhaps she plans on making it up to you and just hasn't gotten around to it yet!

If not, you can wait till the last bottle is gone (keep making your tally) and then just asking her for her suggestions. If she is a good egg about the rest of your stuff no reason to suspect she won't be a good egg about this too.
posted by konolia at 6:15 PM on July 25, 2008


I think you stop buying alcohol in bulk. Whatever cost savings you might possibly achieve through buying by the case (it's normally only 10-15% better than buying bottles), it's quickly being used up via her consumption.

I'd probably just not have alcohol around except when I'm interested in drinking it. Even if you approach this in the most politic way possible, you're still taking a risk of offending her. If her friendship is valuable, I wouldn't take the risk. By giving up your insistence on buying in bulk ahead of time, you can just eliminate the problem.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:57 PM on July 25, 2008


"You know, we've been friends for ten years...?" ... "Something's been bothering me for a while...?" ... "From now on, I'm just going to pay for this beer myself, because I don't want you to drink it all?" Because any of those seem really weird.

well, from the way you are phrasing all these things, it sounds like you're gearing up for a confrontational kind of discussion, which is why they sound "weird". it's the kind of phrasing you use when you're about to pull your finger out of the dike and unload all the shit you've been bottling up since you've been living together. opening the conversation this way will put your roommate on the defensive automatically, which will actually increase the chances of it going bad.

it doesn't have to be this way, though. go back through this thread and look at the examples of how everyone else is saying to approach this, and compare them to yours. everyone is telling you to be "oh, hey, by the way.. is it cool if.. " - phrasing that is casual, relaxed, no-big-deal. this is the right way to do it. nobody in their right mind would object to what you're asking.

if you don't go into this expecting it to turn into some massive clusterfuck, it won't, okay? relax!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 10:42 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sometimes conversations just happen out of the blue. It'd probably be a good idea for this to be the first thing you bring up when you see her on a particular day, or after someone gets home from work, something like that instead of dropping it into the middle of another conversation. If it's the first thing you say, it's like you thought of it while apart; if it's in the middle of a conversation it's something you've been holding back and chewing over.

In your shoes (and thinking of my best friend, but you probably will take your roommate's individual personality into account) I'd start it with a question like, "would you be offended if we took wine/beer out of the 'shared resources' pile?"

If she says "No," then you buy your own and that's that, crossing the "she drank mine" bridge when you come to it.

If she asks why, you can explain that the consumption is drastically out of proportion with the funding.

So to sum up, bring it up as a question not a problem. It'll invite her input and not put her on the defensive.
posted by itesser at 11:06 PM on July 25, 2008


I think you're overthinking this. She hasn't actually drunk more than her fair share yet, and maybe doesn't plan to. In the future, don't make joint alcohol purchases, and if you don't want to claim outright the remaining bottles as your own, just chalk them up as a cost of keeping the relationship harmonious.
posted by Sar at 11:29 PM on July 25, 2008


You say you split the cost for food as well, how does that work?

I would imagine there would be some discrepancies in distribution there, too. There would with me. ("Hey! What happened to the extra 2 pounds of bacon I had in the fridge?")
posted by Jesco at 9:09 AM on July 26, 2008


Coming late to the game, but why do you even need to discuss it? I don't know enough about the ins and outs of your setup to say whether this is feasible, but I'd think the simplest approach would be, when the two of you are grocery shopping, just pass up the booze aisle. If she asks about it or wants to stop, say something like, "I haven't much felt like drinking lately, so I think I'll pass, but if you want some for yourself ...", or "I saw a new [item X] I really want, so I'm cutting out the alcohol for a while to save money for it."

In some circumstances this might not work (she assumes you're splitting, even if you said you didn't want any, or one reimburses the other for groceries and you end up automatically funding four bottles of wine), but if you're uncomfortable about this potentially turning into a big deal, and it is the only issue you have about living together, then finding a way to sidestep it might be better than letting it become a big deal.

I'd also recommend against the labelling approach. Making a 'big thing' about the arrangements will make the situation into a big thing, and could end up spiraling if it's not handled well or taken the wrong way (the Buffy college roommate episode with the individually labelled eggs in the fridge springs instantly to mind). Just buy individual bottles/packs/whatever, when you feel like drinking them, and keep them in your personal space. If she brings it up, say something like "I've started drinking a glass of wine when I can't fall asleep, and with the bed/book/glass setup I find it more convenient to keep it in my room". Yeah, you may not get the bulk discount, but it'll be vastly cheaper than your $200, half-bottle of wine.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 12:51 AM on July 27, 2008


I have no idea when and where and how to begin such a conversation, given that it will never come up naturally.

Almost word for word conversation I had with my long-time friend/housemate.

"Hey Dave! I've just looked at the grocery tally (I've just looked in the wine box) and you spent $200 last week on gourmet stuff (drunk 93.5% of the wine)! Wow! I'll pay my share this time course, but could you not do that again on the share tally? I just can't afford to subsidise your tastes like that."

Don't be passive aggressive about it. Bring it up any time, be open and friendly, but state your case clearly.

Even though you share everything you consume together equally, which I think is the best way to run a share house, that doesn't mean either of you should expect the other to subsidise the other's overt tastes and consumption habits.

Probably the reason you are antsy about bringing it up is that it is affecting your appreciation of your friend/housemate. Meditate on that, then go forth and speak your mind with a clear heart.
posted by Kerasia at 1:39 AM on July 27, 2008


When the wine finally runs out, just say, "hey, I went to have a glass of wine today, for the first time in ages, and realised it was all gone, LOL. Then I realised that you drank it all [insert more laughter here]! Maybe we shouldn't split alcohol anymore. But I don't like having separate things! What do you think we should do next time?"

Just make it a bit of a joke that she drank it all, and you didn't even notice until now, and there won't be any weird feelings. And then get her opinion. Chances are she will come up with the solution you're hoping for :)

If you want a specific opener, you could say, "Haha! Did you drink all the wine? I haven't had any in ages, and just assumed we were drinking at the same speed. But there's none left!"

Following on from what sergeant sandwich said, whatever you do, DON'T preface with "hey we've been friends for ten years, I don't want anything to ruin the harmony we have, but something's been bothering me..." blah blah blah. You're just setting up the conversation to be heavy then! If you act like you're scared of her reaction, she will react accordingly. Like Dan Savage says, don't present this to her as though it's leukemia.

If this still doesn't work out, and nothing changes, you're going to have to suck it up and stop buying wine in bulk. It's false economy.
posted by mjao at 3:37 AM on July 27, 2008


I hope you didnt follow the checked answer above. It has a very passive aggressive vibe, which invariable leads to bitterness. Just be honest about it.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 3:27 PM on July 28, 2008


I agree with shoot the moon, mjao's answer seems overly passive aggressive.

I would vote for one of the more casual conversations higher up. Requesting to buy alcohol separately is not at all unreasonable and is unlikely to start any problems as long as you address it in a reasonable manner.
posted by vegetableagony at 7:38 AM on August 6, 2008


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