31 May 2018
You can’t escape the fact: money makes the world go round. Everyone’s always thinking about money: how to make it, spend it, save it and talk about it. But it can be a sticky subject to navigate, especially in social situations. That’s because money is deeply personal. Some people will openly chat or complain about it, while for others, what’s in their wallet is private. So, how do you handle group pressies? What do you do when a friend asks you for cash? Is there a delicate way to deal with friends that don’t pay you back?
Here’s how to mind your money manners.
We all have that one friend who always wants to go to the swankiest bars and restaurants. And that’s fine, if they have the fat paycheck to support it – but it can make everyone else feel uncomfortable. When you’re planning a night out, think about the people you’re inviting. If they’re still studying, earning a lot less than you, or saving for something, be sensitive to that. Suggest heading to a happy hour, when drinks are less expensive, or grabbing a cheap and cheerful pub meal. That way, nobody has to nervously check their bank account the next morning.
Let’s say you’re planning a holiday with your friend, who you know earns more money than you. But when you throw out a few ideas for hotels, she comes back saying that she’d rather stay at an Airbnb or hostel. Rather than trying to convince her that the hotels are actually pretty affordable, or that they’re worth the $$$, try to compromise. Maybe she has debt she’s paying off. Maybe she prefers splashing her cash on food and experiences over accommodation when she travels. Everyone has their own reasons for spending or not spending money, and that’s okay!
People work hard for their money, and they’re free to spend it on whatever they damn well please. If your co-worker buys her lunch every weekday, that’s cool. If your sister gets a weekly mani, that’s fine too – even though you think it’s ridiculous to never pay someone to paint your nails. What you consider a waste of money might be someone else’s simple pleasure.
Buying pressies is the adult version of peer pressure. Sure, we all want to treat our friends for their birthdays/graduations/engagements, but we all have different budgets. If you’re in charge of organising the gift, text each person separately to a) ask if they’re interested in chipping in and b) how much they’d like to spend. Then, you can set a dollar amount to suit. Try to avoid sending off a group text, because before you know it, everyone’s agreed on $60 – leaving the one person who can only spare $25 feeling too awks to speak up.
Sure, it takes more time to crunch the numbers, but you have to respect when people only want to pay for what they ate and drank. If someone at your table ordered a salad and sipped on water, and the others gorged on steak and wine, it’s only fair for that person to pay less. If you noticed this during dinner, pipe up (so they don’t have to) and say, “Ok, Kate didn’t drink, so she should only pay $X.” On the flipside, if there’s only a few dollars’ difference between meals, it’s easier to split the bill evenly. Either way, a little thoughtfulness goes a long way.
You’ve asked your talented AF friend to design a website, take photos or do your hair. At the end of the day, this is how she makes a living, so offer to pay her for her time. Chances are, she’ll say “absolutely not,” but you still have to offer. In that case, take her out for dinner or send her a gift card (for Showpo, obvs). It’ll give her the warm and fuzzies.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t do that, give them a date (after payday, for example), and please, please don’t make them have to follow up. Your parent/bf/friend did you a solid, so they shouldn’t have to go out of their way to chase their own money.
People can be so nosy! If you’re that curious about how much your friend’s bag, shoes, car or rent costs, just Google it. With your stalker skillz and a little effort, you can get a pretty good idea. And if a sticky-beak asks you how much you paid for something, or how much money you make (which is even worse!), don’t feel obligated to answer. It’s not rude; it’s just not their business. You can also deflect and say, “Too much, honestly” or “not enough.”
This is just common courtesy, really. Venting is healthy, but vent to the right people, like your parents. Whinging about your salary or how broke you are to someone who is seriously struggling is the easiest way to make them feel like crap. And vice versa: if you get reeled into a cash convo with a friend who’s raking it in, just change the subject.
Are you the go-to entertainer in your group? That shit gets expensive, so tell people that from now on, you’ll be the potluck queen. This not only cuts down costs, but it also helps everyone to feel more involved – even if it’s just choosing a bottle of wine. By the same token, when you’re invited to a friend’s place, never rock up empty-handed. At the very least, bring a box of Favourites. 😉
Going to the States soon? Avoid any awkward moments with our guide to tipping in the USA.
You've been educated by Katia Iervasi.
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