My Kid Got Superbilled!

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My Kid Got Superbilled!, blog post cover.

By Alec Lindenauer, COR Chief Allowance Officer

Towards the end of 2022, my oldest daughter was out for her first real “nice dinner” with friends. They were off to a swanky sushi bar … A big night for ninth graders. Turns out it was an important night for money lessons.

Because of a food allergy, it turned out my daughter didn’t eat much. But that didn’t stop a couple of the other girls from ordering several Instagram-worthy “special” rolls. The kind that taste and look great, but come with a premium price tag.

Wrong or right, my daughter just assumed everyone was paying their own way. A fair assumption for someone who has never had to discuss a dinner bill with friends before. But when it came time to pay, she was in for a bit of a surprise.

Two girls took out their parents’ credit cards, and clearly had different attitudes about their dinner. Since Mom & Dad were paying, they were more freewheeling about the money involved. “I always just split the check evenly, no matter who ordered what,” said one of the girls as she laid down Mom’s AMEX card. “Sounds good to me,” added another friend, as she put down Dad’s Visa.

My daughter was now in a 9th grade peer-pressure pickle because of her parent-induced budget. As my daughter described it, she had to decide whether to hold firm to her savings plan, or risk of appearing “cheap” to her friends.

In my 20s, my friends and I would call this getting “Superbilled”. We too would usually split the bill evenly to avoid awkward conversation, even though there were some friends who seemed to purposefully order more of the pricey stuff at the expense of the group. We were all just starting to make a buck, and it could be frustrating since some made more than others.

It turns out we handled our Superbill the same way. Mid-twenties Alec and 9th-grade Grace both just sucked it up to avoid the odd conversation with the ‘offending’ parties.

But here’s where I was super proud of my kid. When Grace came home, she asked how to best handle the situation next time. I credit that to our monthly COR (Cents of Responsibility) Days– our dedicated once-per-month scheduled money conversations. Because she’s so comfortable discussing money in the house, this wasn’t a taboo subject. It was no different than when she asks for help with History homework. I loved the comfort level.

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I could give her definitive advice on this one. The best I could offer was the suggestion that she make sure the rules are clear next time before they order. And if she felt like separate bills were important, she could explain that dinner was on her dime, and not on Daddy’s. That could help alleviate some pressure, but she’d still be risking judgment by her peers.

Interestingly, the whole topic came up the next night at a dinner with extended family. Everyone, right down to the grandparents, had their unique opinion and strategy on how my daughter should handle it next time.

It seems Superbills aren’t just a 9th grade or mid-twenties dilemma!


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