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In this economy, having a well-off friend who constantly says "I'll get it" when the check arrives after dinner, or the movie tickets have to be paid for or you both spot a really cute bracelet but only one of you can afford it sounds like a little slice of heaven.  But after awhile, it can weigh on the person who's always being paid for.  (Really.)  So if you're the person lucky enough to not have to worry about money, be a buddy.  When your less-well-endowed friend suggests Thai or Indian or the corner diner, accept enthusiastically—and let her pay the tab.

If you're the person being treated and you feel as if you can't respond at the level your high-roller friend can, offer a home-cooked meal (if you can cook), or bring great take-out and that movie on DVD that you two had been planning to see and let slip away because you couldn't synchronize your schedules.  Or something that says "I really appreciate your generosity, but I need to be able to be the person treating sometime.  You get that, right?"

They'll get it.

Karen Grigsby Bates is a LA-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).

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is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).

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