A friend (Brian) and I were having a cocktail a few months ago, and he informed me that his ex-wife asked him to pay for half of a $3,000 birthday party for their 6-year-old daughter. This was an outrageous amount to me, so I decided to learn more about the event.
ME: Wow! I think $3,000 is a ton of money. I don’t think Cassandra is going to remember that day. She’s way too young!
BRIAN: I guess you’re probably right, but my ex is already coordinating the event. She is adamant that this birthday party for Cassandra must be a good one.
ME: What do you mean “good one”? I understand she is a medical doctor, but spending $3,000 on a birthday party sends the wrong message.
BRIAN: You’re telling me! She is asking that I pay for half of it! If I do the math right, I’m going to be out $1,500, and she wants the check this week. I can give her the check, but I probably don’t have the money in the bank. You know that I install security systems for a living, and business is slow right now.
ME: I understand. Did you tell her that you are unable to pay for half of this royal birthday party?
BRIAN: Well, remember she left me because I don’t make much money. If I tell her that I can’t pay the $1,500, she will think I’m a lifelong loser.
ME: Remember that she’s your ex-wife. In most cases, ex-anythings don’t think highly of their previous partners. I think you should hold your ground, and tell her that you can pay for a smaller party, something like $250 or so. Don’t they have a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Los Angeles?
BRIAN: You know she’s not into the normal stuff. Ever since she started making the big money, she runs in different circles.
ME: I think you’re setting a bad precedence by paying the $1,500, or the $3,000 for that matter. How often will you have these parties?
BRIAN: I think this is the way it’s going to be from now on. Her friends are doing similar stuff, and she doesn’t want to be left behind.
ME: I feel for you on this one, man. I know you want to be there for Cassandra, but these kinds of exorbitant parties are off the chart. We need to teach our children the value of money. When I was growing up, we had the family come over and we played in the backyard. That’s it!
BRIAN: Same here. We didn’t need to spend a lot of money in the old days. I guess it depends on the situation.
ME: Right! I still think that you need to hold your ground. How about spending $500 on the party, and putting the $2,500 in a college fund. That’s smarter!
BRIAN: Right on, man! Let me see what happens!
Brian was caught in a difficult situation. He wanted to show his ex-wife that he was back on his feet financially by agreeing to pay the $1,500 for his half, but he didn’t have the money.
As it turns out, he tapped into a retirement program and found the $1,500, and the birthday party was held. Brian told me that the entire event took about 4 hours. There were a ton of games, several clowns, and food representing a few continents. Unfortunately for Brian, he only knew a handful of the invited guests. Bummer!