Finances seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately, but the one subject that should be addressed, seems to be taboo! Years ago, it was uncouth to ask a person about their personal finances, including how much they paid for an item, but as of late- people seem to have lost all sensibility when it comes to basic money etiquette. Addressing sticky financial etiquette situations with your friends and family requires a bit of finesse, here are a few tips on how to deal without losing your cool . . .
Issue # 1: Blatant Nosiness
The Issue: You recently purchased a big ticket item, such as a home, a car, tv, etc and your nosy friend inquires as to exactly how much you spent on it, and quite frankly, you don’t feel that it’s any of her business.
Our Take: Financial inquiries have a tendency to feel quite invasive, the key to handling this type of inquiry is to realize that you are not obligated to answer. You can gently avoid the question by answering, “perhaps a bit more than I should have, but I’ve been wanting to get it” or “the price was definitely within the guidelines I’d been searching for” and then redirect the conversation by changing the subject.
Issue: A friend came to you in dire need of some money and you generously bail her out, however, after she fails to make her payments on time (or not at all!) you spot her with expensive new shoes (or purse/ electronic gadgets, etc) Should you say something or bite your tongue?
Our Take:You should definitely say something, but don’t jump to conclusions! Her latest accessory may have been a belated birthday gift, or a contest win, etc. Don’t naturally assume that she purchased the item on her own while owing you. Handle her gently and say, “Our friendship means alot to me and I don’t want anything to come between us, but you’re a bit late on your loan payment to me and now you have this lovely _____. I’d really like to talk about it with you.”
If your friend experienced a bender, this might be enough to get her back on track. If not, and she becomes defensive, congratulations my friend, you just learned the number one reason why you should never lend money to friends.
If you feel strongly compelled to lend money to friends or family, put everything in writing- the amount lent, the terms or repayment, interest, if applicable.
Next: Splitting the Check- who should foot the bill?
[PAGE]Splitting the Check[/PAGE]
Issue: You meet with several friends for an evening out and you dine lightly (Entree Salad and a Glass of Wine) while a few of your friends lavishly indulge in more expensive fare. When the check arrives, it’s suggested that the check be split evenly with the rest of the table.
Our Take: The easiest way to avoid this sticky situation is to handle it before ordering. Most servers will happily divide the checks on the table if asked prior to ordering. If you have a friend that prefers to split After the meal, politely ask for the check and tally your meal, taxes and tip to cover your expenses.
Next: Wealthy Friends
[PAGE]Wealthy Friends[/PAGE] Issue: A good friend asks you to join them for dinner or an event that’s not within your current budget range, but you don’t want to tell them you’re too broke to go!
Our Take: We all have friends or family that are a bit wealthier, perhaps their kids are grown and yours are still at home, maybe you’ve recently been laid off from work. Regardless, if the meal or event isn’t within your budget, simply suggest meeting for lunch instead, which is considerably less expensive, or if that too isn’t within your reach, be honest with your friend. Tell them that it’s really not in your budget right now, but you’d like to meet for a drink or dessert instead.
There is no shame in living within your means!
Next: Group Gifting[PAGE]Group Gifting[/PAGE]
Issue:A collection basket is being passed around the office for a gift for a co-worker. Perhaps you just recently started and don’t know the person well, perhaps you aren’t even friendly with her, are you obliged to contribute anyway?
Our Take:Chip in, if you WANT to. You are not obligated to buy a gift for anyone, if you don’t know the person, or if it’s not within your budget, or maybe you can afford it but you just don’t want to spend the money right now, don’t. It’s a Gift- contribute what you can, if you’d like to. Some office celebrations occur so frequently that they become burdensome. As a real estate broker, our office frequently passed around the collection plate. People seem to forget that you go to work to GET a paycheck each week, not to have help in spending it. If your office frequently collects for various gifts – suggest that they choose a month and have everyone contribute a minute amount weekly to the collection pool. Perhaps $1 or $2 per person. By the time the event rolls around, there should be plenty of cash in the kitty to cover the expense.
Next: Generous Friend, yet Lousy Tipper
[PAGE]Generous Friend- Lousy Tipper[/PAGE] Issue: Your generous friend invites you to dinner and covers the tab, but as you’re leaving you see that she jilted the server with a rather lousy tip, which makes you cringe. Do you walk away knowing the server got a bum deal or do you call your generous friend on her not so generous tip?
Our Take: Having been a waitress for years as a teen, I can tell you that servers do NOT make a lot of money. People sometimes falsely believe that they get paid at least minimum wage on top of their tips, this is NOT so. With that in mind, if a friend has generously invited you out to lunch or dinner and covered the check, you could politely say, “I really enjoyed this lunch together, and I thought the service here was wonderful. Would you mind if I left her a little something extra?”, or you could just slip a few dollars under your plate without your friends knowledge to avoid appearing ungrateful, or worse, as a judgmental guest.