How to Sidestep Awkward Money Situations
When it comes to finances, most of us have likely encountered at least one awkward money situation. In fact, according to a recent CouponCabin.com survey, nearly half of U.S. adults have avoided a person or situation because they knew it would create an "awkward money moment."
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) recommends these tips for navigating through the most common sticky financial situations.
1. Questioning the Cost of a Purchase
When someone asks, "How much did that cost?" and you're not comfortable saying, use humor or something vague like, "A lot more than I wish it had been." Remember, often times these individuals are not being nosey, but may want to conduct their own research. For instance, a friend may be seeking to buy a home in the neighborhood and would like to know what you recently paid for your home.
If you do decide to divulge the information, do so in a more educational manner by sharing how you were able to make the large purchase – years that you saved, amount of down payment, mortgage options, etc.
2. Splitting the Bill
When going out to eat with a group, plan ahead and bring cash so that you can escape the awkward conversation about splitting the bill. Pay your way efficiently and avoid paying more than your share. If there is a large disparity between the amount that each person spent, then you can suggest that everyone pays what they owe rather than an even split.
Apps such as Splitwise or Foodivide can help to determine the exact amounts to split after a meal. If you prefer to transfer money directly to a friend or family member at the table, try using apps such as Venmo or PayPal which allow you to automatically transfer funds using the person's email or phone number.
3. Declining Invitations to Vacations or Social Events
Everyone has been invited to lavish dinners or activities that might be well out of budget. Rather than immediately declining, present alternative options that are both fun and affordable. For instance, rather than attending a concert that may cost upwards of $200 for the ticket alone, opt for a night out to hear some local music or stay in and cook dinner and listen to the album.
No matter what, be honest. When asked to join an event, vacation or expensive outing, say you're actively trying to save money and that you are unable to attend. It's worse to commit and then not end up having the money to participate.
4. Lending to Family and Friends
Be honest about your own financial situation and open about your decision of either lending or not lending. At times you may have to fib a little as to not hurt the recipient's feelings, but hopefully they will respect your honesty and your decision.
Set the expectations up front. How much are you willing to loan? If this truly is a loan or has been presented as such, be clear of that. With a loan there are expectations that must be met, such as the time the loan has to be paid back and if there will be interest on the loan amount. If necessary, write up the terms of the agreement and have both parties sign.
Always discuss with a partner or spouse before agreeing to the loan. Remember your spouse or significant other may not feel as strongly about lending money, which could lead to stress in the relationship. If this becomes an issue, be honest with the person and tell them that you are unable to give them the loan.