Tag: Money Manners

 

Too Broke to Date? How to Handle Relationships and Money

As student loans and housing costs have risen over the past 15 years, you may have accumulated your fair share of additional financial baggage. Indeed, millennials are struggling to meet traditional markers of financial success.

Whether you are in debt or have an apartment you can’t really afford, you’re not alone. And, while you struggle to pay your bills and get ahead, you may not feel comfortable discussing your financial sitch with a new romantic partner.

Here’s the deal though—studies show that conflicts about money are related to divorce. While you may be far away from wedded bliss, learning to talk about money—the good, the bad and the ugly—with your romantic partner is a smart skill to practice. Here’s everything you need to know about how and when to share your financial truth.

Understand your money

If you don’t understand your own financial situation, it’s impossible to talk about money. Period. Because of this, the first step to discussing your financial status with a romantic partner is to make sure you know what you’re talking about. This doesn’t mean you need an MBA in finance, but it does mean that you need to understand the basics—including what’s on your bank account statements and credit card bills. You should also have at least a rough monthly budget and be able to stick to it. From here, you can then opt to make a few quick changes that will boost your confidence and your bank account balance. Here are 3 suggestions:

Step #1: Switch to a bank with no fees.

Step #2: Cut out unnecessary expenses (like subscriptions you never use).

Step #3: Track your spending and earnings.

The changes may feel minor, but being proactive with your finances is an important first step. Now it’s time to get clear about how you feel about money.

Own your emotional baggage

The more you understand about your own relationship with money, the easier it is to confidently talk about it with a new romantic partner.

For Jeff Proctor, a 28-year-old entrepreneur in Blacksburg, Virginia, it was his own self-doubt that made it difficult when he started dating his girlfriend more than two years ago.

“At the time, I was at a low point in my first attempt at entrepreneurship. My income was effectively zero. With business expenses mounting and my own personal cash reserves running dangerously low, it definitely had an effect on our relationship, but not in the way you might expect. We were both perfectly content with being frugal and not making fancy dates the norm, but what was hard for me was my own self-perception of being inferior,” says Proctor.

“My girlfriend was on a very upward career trajectory, so I almost felt like I had to hide my current lack of success. Since our relationship was so new, I was very self-conscious about that,” he recalls.

When you start dating someone new, you may be under pressure to impress that person. And, this can bring out your own internal insecurities. To help combat this, remember that trust is more important than perfection.

Honesty is key

When you feel self-conscious about something—student loans, debt, low income—it’s tempting to hide it, but that’s actually the worst thing you can do when you’re getting to know a new romantic partner.

Debbie Todd, CPA, and CEO at iCompass Compliance Solutions, LLC and 1 Hour Impact, says:  “Be honest with yourself about your real financial picture. Don’t ‘puff and bluff’ your way into seeming to be in better shape than you are. Pretending and lying only makes it worse.”

If you potentially see a future with someone you’re dating, it’s important to be honest because the truth will eventually come out, says Todd. With this in mind, it’s infinitely better to mention your financial baggage on the third date than to mention it three days before you’re getting married.

Here’s the deal: if a romantic partner is worth your time and energy, then he or she is going to be understanding about your financial situation. If not, you’re probably better off without that person.

“It sounds cliché, but you really do need someone who loves you for you, and doesn’t care about your financial situation…When I hit entrepreneurial rock bottom and had to go back and get a full-time job, my girlfriend still supported and believed in me,” says Proctor.

“Fast forward to now, and I am 100% full-time in my business and making more than I have ever made before,” he says.

If you’re doing the work—paying your debt, saving what you can, working hard at your job and taking positive financial steps—then you don’t have anything to be ashamed of. The right boyfriend or girlfriend will understand. The likelihood is that he or she also has some financial regrets to share with you.

Sooner is better than later

Disclosing your financial status to a new romantic partner is hard because it requires vulnerability. But the longer you delay the conversation, the harder it will become.

“[Disclosing your financial status] is probably not a topic for a first or second date, but if you both think the relationship has significant potential, then the ‘money talk’ should commence shortly after,” says Todd.

“One of the key reasons why relationships (and marriages) end is squarely pointed at money issues. You don’t have to be financially rich to be happy, but you do have to have a rock-solid foundation of trust, honesty and willingness to address major life areas of the relationship. Money is surely one of them,” she says.

Remember: there’s no set timeline for talking about money, but the rule of thumb is simple – sooner is better than later.

Bottom line

Money is complicated and everyone makes mistakes and has regrets. With this said, large student loans, credit card debt and other financial situations don’t define who you are as a person or who you are as a life partner.

Take time to review your finances and check-in with your emotions. After that, follow the advice here. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to take the plunge with your new love interest and come financially clean.

 

Relationships and Money: 5 Financial Questions to Ask Your Partner

First comes love, then comes…financial discussions?

Sure, talking about money may not be the most romantic thing in the world, but it is important in any relationship. Whether you are just starting to get serious with your partner or you’ve been married for years, there is no better time than the present to talk about cash.

Let’s back up a bit. This doesn’t mean that you should ask financial questions on a first date. Yet, if things get more serious, it is vital to know where your partner stands financially. In fact, according to a recent Experian survey, 59 percent of those who have been divorced say finances played a role in the breakup of their marriages. Furthermore, 20 percent of these people went on to say that financial conflict was a significant factor in their divorce.

To avoid major financial issues with your partner, it’s important to be the same page when it comes to saving money and prioritizing financial goals. Ready to talk about money with your love interest? Here are 5 money-related questions you should ask your partner – starting right now.

1. What are your financial goals?

Asking your partner about his or her financial goals is a relatively broad question, and this makes it the perfect conversation starter. Once you understanding your partner’s goals, you’ll then have a better idea of how to support him.

So, ask your partner about his or her short-term and long-term financial goals. How does he or she envision the future? What type of lifestyle does he imagine? As long as your partner is willing to open up and share information, this is a great starting point. It will hopefully offer up a way to naturally guide your conversation.

2. What’s your current debt situation?

Before you become serious with your partner, it’s vital to know what you’re getting yourself into. Down the road, if you want to get married, your partner’s debt will become your own. While this may not be a big deal for some people, it may be a make it or break it factor for you.

So, find out if your partner has debt. If so, what actions is he taking to pay it off? Does he have a solid debt-repayment plan?

Debt doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal breaker. If your partner has a realistic plan to pay it off, then you can rest easy. On the other hand, you may want to think twice before you get too serious with someone who is taking no action to pay off $100,000 of debt. This type of monumental debt can put a serious strain on your relationship.

3. What leisurely spending do you refuse to give up?

We all like to spend money in different ways – and in different amounts. This means we don’t always agree when it comes to spending choices. Failing to understand and accept how your partner spends money can create a major barrier in your relationship.

For instance, when my husband and I were dating, I couldn’t understand why he spent so much money on his favorite hobby – golf. Secretly, I was upset at how much he was spending. It wasn’t until we talked about it that I understood the importance of personal spending priorities. Golf was important to him.

Once we discussed this, we both understood the concept of individual spending freedom. Although we have since merged our finances, we still each get to spend a certain amount of money each month – on whatever we want.

4. Do you have plans to return to school?

Graduate school isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a huge time commitment, not to mention a large financial obligation. In fact, according to Peterson’s, the average cost of graduate school is $30,000 at a public university, or $40,000 at a private college.

Many people desire to go back to school for one reason or another, but the decision can’t be made in the spur of a moment. Why? It takes two to tango when you’re in a relationship. Graduate school may require you to live on your partner’s income while you work toward a degree.

In short, graduate school is more than just a financial decision – it’s a lifestyle choice. If your significant other is considering graduate school, it’s time to start preparing.

5. How can we handle our finances together?

As a committed couple, you undoubtedly have many shared expenses. Do you have a plan in place to manage your finances – together?

For instance, how can you manage money together so you both reach your financial goals? How will you pay for dates? What about shared expenses, such as travel? If you live together, how should you best split rent and utility payments?

To avoid future frustration or resentment, talk about how you would like to handle finances together. Whether you split everything 50/50 or one of you pays more than the other, make it a point to create a system that works for both of you.

Happy Finances Lead to Happy Relationships

As a couple, you want to ensure that you meet your savings goals and financial commitments – together. By having money conversations on the regular, you’ll have an opportunity to talk through financial challenges and figure out how to achieve your money goals.

Just remember to be honest. This way you’ll avoid resentment and be on your way to a healthy and happy financial relationship.

 

How to Bring Up Money With Someone You’re Dating Casually

So you’re doing the whole Tinder thing.

It’s sort of a given that a “Netflix and chill” situation doesn’t necessarily dictate a deep dive into personal money matters. However, depending on the circumstances, you may still want to bring up finances with the person you’re dating.

And we get it. No matter the dynamic of the relationship, talking about money is no easy feat.

Here are some pointers on how to dredge up—er, bring up—the topic of money with someone you’re dating casually. This way you’ll better gauge how much you want to reveal about your financial situation.

Scenario #1: Someone You’re Just “Hanging Out With”

This is the person that you may hit up to get a round of happy hour drinks at your local watering hole. Or, maybe you need a date for that summer wedding, and you’re *this close* to renting a friend. (Yes, this is an actual thing.)

In this situation, you can approach the money talk in the same way that you’d approach it with a new friend. For example, you can get to know each other by commiserating about shared money woes, or how much ATM fees suck. While you’re at it, this is a good time to work out who is paying for what, or how you want to handle the bar tab.

This may lead to the next conversation: are you going splitsies or who will treat the other to those drinks? In this case, this opens the door to discuss money-saving apps. And that’s totally cool. Perhaps you’ll end up swapping some useful knowledge. Beyond that, keep it low-key and light.

Scenario #2: Friends With Benefits

So, this could get complicated. Besides worrying whether the other person has serious feelings for you, you may wonder if you should pay for the meal, or go Dutch? What would that signify? Fair warning: things can get a bit tricky. If you want to play it safe, ask yourself, “What would friends do?” From there, proceed accordingly.

Another thing: Venmo with caution. Sure, this popular app is essentially a fun way to go splitsies with pals when out on the town. It’s also a great way to share the rent. Yet, it can also offer a revealing peek into someone else’s friend network, activities, and social interactions. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets FOMO when I see my pals’ transactions for brunches and poolside parties. So, be prepared. You may learn more about the other’s social life than you should—or want to.

Scenario #3: Booty Calls

If you’re an inveterate booty-caller or are just going through a phase, you may want to keep things as non-intrusive as possible with hook-up partners.

To be honest, there really isn’t a compelling reason to talk money with this person, unless you’re a money nerd like me (I’m only half-kidding.) Take it from me, keep topics as light and easy-peasy as possible.

Scenario #4: Netflix and Chill

Are the two of you keeping it super casual? If all you want is to get cozy on the couch and binge-watch on Netflix, then splitting the costs of GrubHub and a bottle of two-buck chuck may be the extent of your money talk. The deepest it may go is engaging in light banter over how you’re saving up for that summer vacay or went a little crazy with the spending last weekend.

If you ever need to chat about something more serious, just be sure to do so when you’re both awake and sober. Otherwise, it’ll prove unproductive or just plain disastrous.

Scenario #5: New Date With Potential

Maybe things are moving beyond merely FWB or the Netflix and chill stage, and you’re both experiencing mutual feels. How do you get “financially naked” and bring up more serious, sensitive money matters?

Try sussing things out, says Jodi Scott Elliott, a 36-year-old LA-based freelance writer who once ran a blog about her experiences as a serial dater.

“If you feel like money is something that is important to the person you’re dating, you need to bring it up,” says Scott Elliott.

As it’s a touchy subject, coming at it from a calm matter-of-fact way is best, she says.

“Any relationship worth having, you should be able to communicate needs and issues,” she says. “Acknowledge that it’s an awkward conversation and address only what is necessary, but I think the sooner you do address it, the better.”

Talking About Money? Handle With Care

Why make the casual dating game more difficult than it needs to be? No matter what the arrangement, handling money talks with kid gloves is the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll just lead to awkwardness or frustration.

 

The 10 Golden Rules of Money Etiquette

We know how awkward – and frightening – talking about money can be. Yup, it’s oftentimes considered more taboo to chit chat about the “M” word than about sex and politics.

While shooting the hay about your job may be less anxiety-inducing than your debt situation, having convos about financial matters is super important.

Yet, as the saying goes, “there’s a time and place for everything.” If not well-timed or in the proper context, chatting about finances can simply create tension. To avoid socially awkward situations, money faux paus, or full-on blow-ups, here are the 10 golden rules of money etiquette:

1. Thou shall not inquire about one’s debt during family functions

 That’s right. No meddling about Uncle Harold’s outstanding credit card balance or cousin Ave’s student debt load in front of spectators at a 4th of July grill-out or during Thanksgiving dinner.

Or even worse, it’s probably not a good idea to start a convo about how much debt is owed to you. What’ll most likely happen? Probably nothing productive. Instead, you’ll probably painfully endure mad-dog glances for the duration of the meal.  

What to do instead: If a family member’s debt involves you (can you say authorized user, or long-overdue loan?) carve out some private time to suss things out. If the person is in a bad financial situation, see if you can talk to him one-on-one about how to build solid credit card habits. But tread carefully! You don’t want to set off any landmines.

2. Thou shall not ask to split the bill afterward.

Does this sound like a likely scenario? You’re enjoying a lovely patio brunch with some pals. Your meal companions order double espressos, bottomless mimosas, while your frugal self meagerly gulps on tap water. When the check drops, your friends say they’re too tipsy to do math, and suggest splitting the bill evenly. You know, for the sake of convenience.

What to do instead: Oy vey, this is one of my personal pet peeves. Figure out the payment sitch beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll be tasked to be the “uptight one” who wants to divvy up the bill according to what each person ordered. Note that you may be expected to be the one that has to calculate the tab. This is far better than paying more than you budgeted. You can also decide ahead of time to use an app to split the tab. Easy peasy.

3. Thou shall not text about serious money matters with your partner.

This is a money faux paus I’ve ashamed to admit to. This happens when I’m feeling particularly brave and resolute about having “a talk” on budgeting or how to best split bills. I’ll then send my partner a mini-novella of a text. In turn, he gets agitated or feels blindsided. A likely reply: Let’s discuss IRL.

What to do instead: It’s simply not in good taste to bombard your partner with long-winded texts about serious money topics. Instead, carve out some time to discuss spending habits or your financial future. It doesn’t have to involve a five-course dinner. You can chat en route to the supermarket, or during an evening walk around the neighborhood. Just make sure it gets done.

4. Thou shall not outright ask about another’s salary.

While discussing salaries isn’t always a social no-no, it’s deemed outright rude to ask someone how much she earns. Why? It can easily lead to feelings of inadequacy, or cause your friend to go into “compare and despair” mode.

What to do instead: If you suspect you make more than your friends and family, it’s easy to be the one mouthing off about how much you take home. It’s quite a different story if your friend earns more than you. But please, don’t be the clueless one who lives in a self-absorbed, more financially-astute than-thou bubble.

If you’re dying to talk salary, start by broaching topics with lighthearted money topics. For instance, mention a great deal you nabbed at a sample sale. Or how you’re trying to cut back on eating out. Or… you might even start out with a general discussion on career planning or investing in your professional life. Then feel things out, and take it from there.

5. Thou shall not hide important financial information.

If you have outstanding debt, or made a money boo-boo in your younger years, you’ll need to let the cat out of the bag eventually. You loved ones deserve to know the truth. Plus, remaining silent is a borderline act of financial infidelity, and can lead to feelings of hurt and betrayal.

What to do instead: Be upfront with those who could be negatively impacted by information you don’t share. Otherwise, this may just lead to more problems down the line.

6. Thou shall not ask for one’s credit score on a first date.

…Or net worth for that matter. A relative of mine once had his date ask him what tax bracket he fell into. The proper response? “None o’ your business.” You’ll probably want to make sure you have similar interests and values before prodding about someone’s net worth. Just sayin’.

What to do instead: As you know, talking about money matters is a super sensitive topic. When you’re just getting to know someone, you want to be extra careful. When on a date, I’ve learned to look for subtle cues on how my date manages money. Granted, as a personal finance writer, many times my date will outright express an interest in money management or flat-out admit they’re terrible with money. It’s a start, and will lead to more serious discussions as the relationship progresses.

7. Thou shall not ask for money during a friend’s birthday.

Sad but true: I have been guilty of this. Granted, I was a broke college student at the time. My good friend checked out some books at the university library using my card. He lost them during a bad breakup, and I was fined three hundred dollars.

On his birthday, I brought up the topic and suggested coming up with a repayment plan. The lighthearted chit chat in the room dramatically faded into dead silence. #majorfail

What to do instead: Approach the situation with kid gloves. In private. You really don’t know what is going on in the other person’s life. My friend eventually paid part of it of back, only to have his car towed, and he needed the moola to get his car back. We were both riding the broke student train. While three hundos was nothing to scoff at, especially at a time when I subsided on mac and cheese, I realized it was best to just let it go.

8. Thou shall not push your frugality on another person.

Yup, this was former me. I used to assess people’s capacity for frugality with a harsh, critical stare. And just like how some youngins would only choose friends who drove certain cars and carried certain brands of handbags, I picked my friends based on how good they were at scouting a killer deal.

What to do instead: While hanging out with frugal folks can help you stick to your budget, it’s also great to have friends with different money philosophies and habits. It’ll not only help you be more open-minded and compassionate, but you’ll build your resistance to FOMO.

9. Thou shall not judge others on their money decisions.

There’s no point in harshly judging others on how and why they spend their money. People have varying relationships with money, mindsets, and ways of being. Just because you may decide to do something differently doesn’t mean what they’re doing is plain wrong.

What to do instead: If you really want to help others with their finances, be the cheerleader or accountability buddy they need in their life. Only help out if they ask for it. Sure, you’ll want to tout the benefits of auto-transferring a portion of your paycheck, or saving for an emergency fund. But, put a lid on it – for the time being. Otherwise, you’ll come off as intrusive, which will just lead to ill feelings of resentment.

10. Thou shall not debt shame.

Debt shaming can feel just as bad as looking down on someone who doesn’t have a lot of money. You just don’t know what kind of situation someone is in, and what factors led them to their current state of affairs. Debt can create a lot of stress, anxiety and depression.

What to do instead: Be a pal. If someone shares tales of debt woes, nod and commiserate. Offer up resources and tips if you think it would be useful.

Bottom Line

Stick to these golden rules of money etiquette, and I assure you, you’ll be a well-regarded money nerd. It sure beats being the insensitive, out-of-touch one who just doesn’t get it and is privy to an eyeroll – or two. Trust me, your relationships and social life will be better off for it.

 

 

5 Outdated Money Manners That Don’t Belong in 2018

Back in the day, it was commonplace to refer to a man as “sir” and a woman as “madam.” And, arriving fashionably late was actually considered polite.

Times have changed, and we’ve come a long way from those old-fashioned customs. Yet, oftentimes, we still approach our finances in the same way we did 20 or even 50 years ago. Isn’t it time you adopted modern money habits?

To help you change the way you approach your finances and kick your old money habits to the curb, take a look at 5 money matters that no longer apply today:

1. Tipping your server 15 percent

Tipping 15 percent is an unspoken money rule that still persists to this day. To boil it down further, once the check arrives, the common knowledge is this: tip your server 15 percent for good service, 18 percent for slightly better service, and 20 percent for excellent service.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with tipping the lower amount, but sometimes this just isn’t enough, says etiquette consultant Jodi RR Smith.

Alexander Lowry, a finance professor at Gordon College, says this money myth persists in part  because some states have enacted higher minimum wages. Plus, some restaurants may pay servers more to discourage tipping from customers. But keep this in mind, even if waitstaff earn a higher hourly wage, their livelihood often depends on tips.

“Know your circumstances before assuming (tipping) 15 percent,” says Lowry. “And certainly add more if you’ve had exceptional service.”

2. The man pays on the first date.

Historically speaking, men are expected to take the financial lead and pay on the first date. For one thing, this indicates that they’re comfortable being assertive. But, it also hearkens to a time when men were automatically assumed to earn more money than women.

Simply put, this old-fashioned dating etiquette is falling by the wayside as gender roles and romantic expectations change. The new norm? Well, there is no new normal.

According to Smith, whoever asks the other person out should pick up the check on the first date. This doesn’t mean chivalry is dead. In fact, Smith says men and women should simply communicate with each other so that someone isn’t inadvertently stuck with the bill. One way to remove any awkwardness from a dinner date scenario is by agree to go dutch and split the bill.

April Davis, president of LUMA Luxury Matchmaking, has a slightly different point of view. She thinks the man should offer to pay on the first date, especially if he’s interested in a second date. On the other hand, the woman should only allow him to pay if she plans on seeing him again. Then, if there’s a second date, it’s the woman’s turn to pay.

“Men shouldn’t be expected to pay for everything, every time; both partners should take turns. Women are making more (money) now than ever and want a partnership versus just a relationship, and have no problem contributing to dates,” says Davis.

3. Wedding costs are paid by the bride’s family

Although the bride’s family still sometimes pays for the bulk of wedding costs, this is no longer the norm. In fact, weddings are often paid for by the couple, or both the bride and the groom’s parents can opt to contribute to the costs.

“This tradition dates back to when a woman’s family would pay a dowry, and she would then move straight from the family home to her new husband’s abode,” says Lowry.

In fact, it’s an old-world form of etiquette that’s based on when men were the breadwinners and women depended on their husbands for financial support. The bride’s parents, in turn, paid for the wedding because once she was married off, they would have no further financial obligations.

4. Parents always pay for dinner

When going out for dinner with your parents, they used to grab for the bill and pay the tab. This was the case whether the child was 10 years old or 50. For better or worse, this financial etiquette no longer applies, says Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Community Tax.

“In many cases, it’s no longer assumed that parents will cover all expenses,” says Dayan.

“For example, if grown children invite their parents out for dinner, the children pay, as they initiated the meal. If the parents extended the invitation, then it’s perfectly fine that they pay. What this rule comes down to is that it’s not a hard and fast rule that parents always pay, regardless of the situation.”

5. Don’t talk about money with your friends and family

“How much money do you make?” was always one of the most taboo questions you could ask anyone.

Income has always been a highly personal subject, and even if you feel like you’re simply inquiring about what someone earns, it’s historically been perceived as intrusive or overstepping a boundary. But, this doesn’t mean you must always refrain from talking about money and wages. Experts suggest more open communication about pay with friends and family you know well. Just remember to tread lightly and choose your topics carefully.

For example, according to Smith, you should still never ask someone how much money they spend. Instead, turn to Google for your answers.

“Today we can price anything from shoes to cars to houses with a quick search. It is still rude to ask how much someone paid for something,” says Smith.

Final Word

As you can see, money manners have changed over the years. While there still may be some truth to old-fashioned money norms, times are changing and so is money etiquette. Are you ready to move forward and leave behind outdated money habits?

 

You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money

Flashback several years ago to my last relationship. The guy I was dating at the time wasn’t open to discussing his “numbers.” Mind you, this was several years into our relationship. Although I disclosed how much I earned and saved, he was radio silent. Needless to say, it didn’t work out between us.

When it comes to talking about money: It’s no big secret: we’d much rather talk about sex and politics than money, according to an article in The Guardian. We despise being defined by our wealth—or our lack thereof. We’re also often taught that talking about money is a faux pas. In fact, 7 out of 10 people think talking about money is rude.

Taking a step back, it’s no surprise that we don’t want to talk about money—a cause of stress for many people. In fact, 90% of Americans are stressed out about money, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Add to this that saving money is hard and many people don’t even have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency Why would they want to discuss finances?

Yet, in order to break through the money taboo, it’s important to learn how to openly talk about money matters. Here are some tips to break the ice when it comes to discussing money with your significant other or spouse.

Get financially naked

We all have different money values. In fact, your perceptions about money were likely formed when you were young. And, since you were raised differently than your partner, you may even have polar opposite money values. For example, you may have the “scarcity mindset,” in which money is hard to come by. This means you may be a penny pincher. Your partner, on the other hand, may be prone to emotional spending and find it challenging to save money.

Regardless of your different relationships to money, it’s important for you and your significant other to get “financially naked” when it comes to talking about money, according to Time Magazine. Financial infidelity, or hiding your financial matters from your partner, can ruin your relationship.

You can start making money discussions fun by setting up a monthly date. You can keep it casual and perhaps schedule it after a relaxing night after a homecooked meal. Topics you’ll want to discuss may include your net worth or outstanding debts, your short- and long-term money goals, creating a budget, and whether you should have a joint bank account. You can also use this time to discuss future job changes and general concerns you have about your finances.

Keep in mind that if you are cohabiting or engaged, it’s important to get your money matters out in the open before you make any major life changes, like uprooting to a new city, getting married, merging investments or raising kids. By starting now, you can lay the foundation for building a life together.

 

You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money

 

Talk about your pain points

When it comes to money, it’s no surprise that many turn to personal finance forums on Reddit and Quora. These channels offer a virtual space where you can disclose details about your financial situation and remain anonymous. Although it seems uncomfortable, why not instead discuss these topics with people you know?

I know it seems strange, but sometimes being the first in a group to disclose your money matters can pave the way for others to do the same. This way, you can all support and help each other achieve your financial goals. For instance, I am usually the first one in my circle of friends to discuss my savings goals and the financial resources I’ve stumbled upon. I’m also not afraid to talk about my biggest challenges.

If you don’t want to talk about anything big, start by discussing a small win, like how you saved money at the grocery store last week or earmarked some of your bonus toward your summer vacay. By doing this, you’ll let your social circle know that “hey, I’m comfortable talking about money, and you’re welcome to do it, too.” My friends and I now talk freely about saving for retirement. I also receive texts when someone made a final car payment or paid off his student loan.

Going beyond your immediate social circle, it’s also a good idea to practice discussing money with family members or roomies. This will make it easier to broach topics like splitting a dinner tab or dividing up household bills.

Know your worth

Knowing your worth in the working world and asking for greater compensation is a crucial part of climbing the corporate ladder. When you know the value you’re contributing to the job, and just what it takes to level up to the next rung, you can feel confident asking for a raise. While it still remains taboo to ask your co-workers what they earn, you can still discuss this with your boss. This way you’ll have a better idea of what it takes to earn more, and what it takes to perform to move up the pay scale.
Likewise, in order to net higher rates as a freelancer, it’s important to know what others earn so that you can effectively raise your own rates. As a self-employed writer, rates vary and it can be challenging to determine how much to charge clients. To help me out, I often reach out to other freelancers to talk about what rates I should charge a client.

Regardless of how you decide to get your money matters out in the open, keep in mind that money is a tool. That is, money is a resource to help you achieve your goals so that you can live your preferred lifestyle. By openly discussing money, you’ll be more apt to align your money goals with your values. And that, my friends, is the sweet meat of having heart-to-heart discussions about money.

 

4 Awkward Money Scenarios with Friends and How to Handle Them

It’s inevitable. At some point in your life, you’ll find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with friends. The culprit? Money. Whether it’s splitting the tab after dinner or lending money to a friend, things can get sticky.

To help you handle awkward money situations, check out these common financial scenarios and learn effective ways to deal with them.


Open a bank account online for free

Banking like it should be.

No hidden fees and get paid up to 2 days early.

Free to sign up and takes less than 2-minutes!

Apply Now


Awkward scenario #1: Splitting a large group check

You get invited to a big birthday bash for your BFF. To keep it frugal, you stick to an appetizer and one drink. When the bill comes, the group somehow decides that it’s “easier” to split everything.

*cringe*

Have you been in this situation before? Super awkward, right?

Several years ago, I attended a friend’s birthday dinner at a sushi restaurant. I was in serious debt repayment mode. Now, I love raw fish but let’s face it, sushi isn’t known to be cheap. Beforehand, I decided that I was going to order one roll and one drink. Frugal win! As everyone else was enjoying rows of sushi delicately placed on wooden boats, I enjoyed my one roll.

When the bill came, the resident mathematician of the group divided the total bill by the number of people. I was then supposed to contribute three times more than I anticipated. We all threw down our cards and in that moment I regretted not enjoying those sushi boats. Though I paid more than I wanted and didn’t make a fuss, I wish I could have changed the situation.

How to handle this situation: 

Be honest and tell your friends you’re on a budget ahead of time. This way, it won’t come as a surprise if you order less than everyone else. For example, you can say, “Thanks so much for inviting me! FYI, I’m working on saving money and I want to hang out, but I probably won’t spend a lot of money.”

Be honest and tell your friends you’re on a budget ahead of time. This way, it won’t come as a surprise if you order less than everyone else. For example, you can say, “Thanks so much for inviting me! FYI, I’m working on saving money and I want to hang out, but I probably won’t spend a lot of money.”

Once you’ve laid your financial state out on the table, here are a couple options for dealing with the situation:

  • When you arrive at the restaurant, ask your server for a separate check before everyone starts ordering. I know this can seem uncomfortable but hopefully, your friends will understand and this beats asking for another check at the end of the meal.
  • Agree ahead of time to split the bill based on how much each person spends. Or, make sure your friends understand that your budget prevents you from chipping in extra cash. An easy way to do this is to use a mobile payment app like Venmo or divvy up the check and pay back the bill-payer using Chime. And, if the tip amount is also an awkward pain point, Chime offers up instant transaction notifications for restaurants that include a 15% tip calculation.
  • If you really don’t feel comfortable splitting the check down to the exact penny, consider budgeting for situations like this. This way, you’ll be prepared to spend more on the group meal.
  • As a last resort, you can always say no to an invitation and propose something that is more budget-friendly at a later date.

Awkward scenario #2: When your friend asks to borrow money

It’s the 29th of the month and your friend calls you. You know the one – she has trouble holding down a job but has a heart of gold. With all of her courage, she asks for money to pay rent.

You want to help your friend and you have the money, but you don’t want things to be weird. You also don’t want to be a bank. Your job is to be her friend, not act like a lender, right?

How to handle this situation:

As hard as it is, you should probably say “no” to your friend. Mixing money and friends can get weird real fast. How will you feel if she doesn’t pay you back? Or how would you deal with seeing her on Instagram at the hottest new cocktail bar – very likely spending the money you just loaned to her?

It may seem awkward, but just tell your friend in plain and simple terms: “I don’t lend out money. It’s a rule I have.” This could mean a moment of awkwardness instead of a broken friendship down the line. Which one would you prefer?

On the other hand, if you really do want to help your friend and have the funds available, then you can certainly consider lending her the cash. Just make sure lending money won’t put you in a tough spot. A good rule of thumb: Don’t lend money that you wouldn’t give as a gift. Always remember that you might not get your money back.

Awkward scenario #3: Asking for money owed to you

You book a girls’ trip with your favorite ladies and put it on your credit card. You let your friends know their part of the bill and they all agree to it. No problem.

After a wild weekend of fun, you still haven’t been repaid for the trip. You don’t want to be a total buzzkill and sending them Rihanna’s song “B!%#* Better Have My Money” is a bit much. What do you do?

How to handle this situation:

Instead of launching into a discussion about how much money your friends owe you, bring up the situation as an afterthought. You can say something like “I had such a great time with you at [trip/concert/dinner,etc.]. We should do that more often. I wanted to follow-up with you about the bill. I’m about to pay off my credit card soon, do you want to Venmo or PayPal me the money? Your portion was $X.” Pro tip: If your friends are Chime members and use their mobile banking app, you can use the Pay Friends feature to make getting paid a breeze.

Awkward scenario #4: Will you co-sign for my loan?

At some point, a friend may ask you to co-sign for his loan. A co-signer is typically someone with excellent credit and if you’re that person, you can help your friend get approved for a car loan or perhaps even secure the apartment he’s had his eye on. This may not seem like such a big deal to you. But, before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to recognize that, as the co-signer, you are legally responsible for the loan. If you friend is delinquent on payments, guess what? Your credit score may suffer.

A few months ago my friend asked if I could be a co-signer on her apartment application. I knew I could help her get approved, but I wasn’t willing to risk my own credit — or our friendship over it. So I told her the truth. I said, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t do this. I’m getting my credit in shape after paying off all my debt. I don’t think I’m the best one to help you with this.”

It was tough and definitely awkward. But our friendship is fine now and he eventually got an apartment.

How to handle this situation: 

Just say no! You don’t want to be on the hook and risk your own credit because of someone else. Trust me. Be polite and give it to ‘em straight. Make it about you, not him.

Final word

It’s tough to navigate the complexities of dealing with money issues with friends. Consider your values when dealing with these awkward situations. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground or be true to your financial goals. While you’re at it: Fully explain your personal situation and reasons for the decisions you make. By being honest, your friends will understand where you are coming from. And this, my friends, can help you keep your friendships and finances intact.

 

Money Manners: How to Deal with Friends Who Owe You Money

Money Manners is a series that explores everyday money situations we encounter in our relationships, at work, and at home along with practical tips on how to handle them

The first rule of loaning money to friends is often: don’t do it. But that’s what friends (and family) are for, right? When a friend asks for money, it can be hard to say no. Whether it’s covering the bill for lunch or helping out with a down payment for a new home, it’s gratifying when we’re able to help.


Open a bank account online for free

Banking like it should be.

No hidden fees and get paid up to 2 days early.

Free to sign up and takes less than 2-minutes!

Apply Now


However, loaning a friend money comes with the risk of not getting repaid. In fact, a survey by PayPal found that a third of U.S. adults say friends and family owe them at least $450.

There might be an unspoken understanding that your loan will be repaid as soon as possible, but that can lead to a wild mismatch in expectations between the lender and recipient. For larger sums of money, this often leads to serious tension. Here are some tips that will improve your money manners and make sure you get paid back without ruining a relationship:

Establish clear expectations.

If you did not take the time to discuss a repayment deadline, you shouldn’t threaten mafia involvement. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt that paying you back simply slipped his mind or that you had a different expectation about timing for the repayment.

Use this opportunity to get on the same page and agree to a repayment schedule. Maybe you’ll get your repayment right then and there.

If the overdue balance is more than your friend can handle at one time, she probably views the debt as insurmountable. Let her know that you are sympathetic to her situation, but you still expect to get your money back. Start to discuss a payment plan that works for both of you. Invite her to set it up and share it with you first. If she fails to do so, come up with your own schedule and let her know you’ll follow up every time payment is due.

Let tech do the talking.

Use apps like ChimeSquare Cashor Venmo to request the repayment amount. Your friend will need to approve the request before you get paid, but it’s another good (and polite) reminder that you’re waiting for reimbursement. This method also makes getting paid easier so you can avoid the “check is in the mail … oh, it must have gotten lost” saga.

Time the ask.

For small amounts of money owed by a friend, consider a more casual opportunity to square up. The next time you’re out together and the bill shows up feel free to say, “Since I covered dinner last time, want to get this so we can call it even?” If your friend cannot cover the entire amount owed at that moment (be understanding she may be on a tight budget), ask her to pitch in for what she can afford.

Respectfully decline covering your friend in the future.

Depending on how serious the situation is (a couple bucks to cover lunch is very different than thousands of dollars) you may need to say no to lending money in any amount to your friend in the future. You have every right to make that determination for yourself. Keep in mind debt can cause major stress on your friendship. Refusing to put either of you in that situation is the best way to avoid it. 

The bottom line.

Even after all this, your friend may never pay you back. In that case, you have to decide if you can get over it and move on, or if the debt is too much to forgive. If it turns out to be the latter, let your friend know you don’t feel comfortable continuing with your friendship because of the way they are treating you. If anything, it will be your last ditch effort to encourage your friend to do the right thing.

What to do if you owe someone money.

It happens! (Remember the statistic at the beginning of this post?) But it’s never too late to correct a mistake. Be proactive and let the person you owe money to know that you haven’t forgotten about the debt. Then, create a payment plan and explain what the steps you will take to make it right. In the future, if you can’t afford something, politely decline and know there will be many more opportunities. And always remember that friends are friends, not banks.

 

How to Mind Your Money Manners When Splitting the Bill

Dealing with money can be awkward regardless of how much you have, especially when it comes to splitting the bill. Whether it’s asking a roommate to pitch in for toilet paper or deciding who pays on a first date, navigating money manners for shared expenses can be tricky. Here are some common scenarios you may encounter with our tips for gracefully and economically splitting the bill.

The dinner with friends.

We’ve all been there — the group dinner with friends of varying tastes, and bank accounts. You’re on a budget so you order an appetizer and a beer, while your friend orders the prime rib and a bottle of Bordeaux. The bigger the group, the harder it is to make sure everyone pays their fair share of the check without pulling out a calculator.

If you want to avoid bankrolling your friend’s expensive taste in food while still maintaining your manners, offer to be the accountant. Instead of splitting hairs (and cents), my friends and I divide portions by $5 increments. This allows for a more equitable division of cost while still making it easy to manage. Most times, your friends will just be grateful that you’re handling the math on their behalf.

The group getaway.

If you are looped into an event or a trip that you can’t miss, offer to plan it so you can help find ways to keep it affordable and help manage how expenses get divvied up. If you can find quality options at a good price, you’ll also get bonus points for putting in the work.

First, create a list of costs that will need to be divided, such as groceries, activities, rental deposits, and fees. If one person is shopping, set a budget and create a grocery list so there are no complaints about unnecessary expenses. Set clear expectations up front with the group about what is shared and what is on the individual. If someone wants special items, they can pick it up separately.

To make it even easier, you can estimate the shared costs and have people send you ahead of time for shared items like food and accommodations. Use apps like Splitwise and Divvy which make dividing up expenses easier when there are lots of expenses to manage.

The shared monthly rent and bills.

Roommate situations can be tough. You live with these people after all, so money matters need to be handled with care. When a roommate is failing to pay his or her part of the household expenses, it’s more difficult to confront when there’s no formal expense tracking. The best way to fine-tune your money manners with roommates is to have good documentation, and thankfully technology can help with that.

Before you sign the lease or a new roommate moves in, agree to some rules about how expenses will be shared and the process for collecting everyone’s fair share. Again this is where apps like Splitwise and Divvy can streamline monthly bills and save you an awkward conversation.

The first date.

Who pays on the first date has become a tricky question when it comes to money manners. Dating culture evolving so quickly in the era of Instagram, Snapchat and Tinder, you might expect that traditional etiquette has become irrelevant. But surveys have found that even today, most heterosexual couples still aren’t going dutch on the first date. Yup, in most cases, the guy is still picking up the tab.

According to research conducted at California State University, about 10% of heterosexual daters expect the man to pay for everything, 10% expect to go 50/50, and the rest are somewhere in between. In other words, there’s no clear money manner on the first date.

This is why I like to stick to the simple rule of—if you ask someone out on a date, you should also offer to pick up the bill. If they insist on splitting it, great. But beware of the fake wallet reaches. About half of women reported they get upset if they end up having to pay, even if they offered. I suppose that’s on them, but just be aware.

The most important manner to keep in mind is this—don’t assume the other person has the same spending habits as you do. I personally think splitting the bill is a good move on a first date, but I wouldn’t be okay if I was forced to fork out $100 unexpectedly.

The alternative.

Social norms will tell us that talking about money is taboo. It’s uncomfortable. It makes us vulnerable. It can expose us. But when it impacts your ability to be financially stable, it’s important to communicate when you can’t afford something. Or at the very least, learn how to politely say “no”.

Next time you get an invitation to a dinner date, a weekend escape, or the trip of a lifetime, considering how it will impact your goals. Does it align with your priorities, or are you simply matching what others are forking out for the sake of appearances? While it’s tempting to live in the moment, and dreadful to experience FOMO, remember your budget is there so you won’t feel like you’re missing out down the road.

We haven’t even scratched the surface of awkward money situations and how to handle them, so feel free to share your stories with us! You can comment below or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MoneyManners

Banking Services provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Chime and The Bancorp Bank, neither endorse nor guarantee any of the information, recommendations, optional programs, products, or services advertised, offered by, or made available through the external website ("Products and Services") and disclaim any liability for any failure of the Products and Services.