This past weekend I went to lunch with a friend of mine from way back in the day. Although I haven’t seen this guy in quite a while, when we do get together it usually results in a crazy night where I wake up without pants (in my bed, mind you) and half-eaten Doritos all over me. The great thing is that almost all of my cash that I left the apartment with is usually still left in my pants, wherever I left them.
What I neglected to say is that my friend is bartender. Not only does that mean free drinks at the bar that he works at, but he seems to know every bartender at every other Chicago bar. He also worked at a restaurant, and when he did we would get heavily discounted meals at nice places. Alas, the biggest expense whenever we went out were for cab rides and tips.
Normally, I’d really feel guilty taking all of the free drinks, but I NEVER ask to go out to the bars with him. Whenever I invite him out, it is usually for lunch where I can pay for myself. Whenever he invites me out, it is generally to a tavern or six. I consider myself really lucky to have such a generous, well connected friend.
When it comes to getting discounted services, I also able to get inexpensive service performed on our car. A family friend of ours has been the mechanic for all of our cars for the past 10 years. At first we would bring our cars to him because we knew he wouldn’t rip us off, and he would charge us only a fraction of the labor charges. Now when we ask him to look at our cars he offers to do it “on the side” at his house, assuming it isn’t too complicated. He takes a little longer, but only charges us for any parts. Of course we add in some extra cash to compensate him for his work.
In the first example, I get free stuff because of a mutual friend relationship – we do more than drink. In the second example, it is purely a business relationship – we only really see each other when the car needs work.
Do any of your relationships (business, friendships, etc.) directly affect your personal finances? How did these relationships come about, and how are the discounted services or goods handled?