With so many people out of work, tight on finances and riding a budget –
how can we be sensitive to those sometimes-sticky financial situations?
Cece Mitchell, Senior Vice President with Zions Bank and etiquette blogger
Janine Ottley weigh in.
Here are six sometimes-sticky financial situations…and how to handle ‘em!
1. Lunching Ladies: You are going out to lunch with a girlfriend who is
on a tight budget – do you offer to pay?
Cece says: Chose lunch locations that don’t break the bank. If you
avoid very expensive restaurants in the first place, you eliminate some of the
stress from the get-go. Only offer to pay for lunch if you can afford it, if you
are not bothered by paying, and if you don’t expect her to pay next time.
You don’t need to verbally outline these expectations with her, but you do
need to be comfortable with your offer. If you’re happy to pay, be the first
one to extend the invitation and let her know that you’d like to take her to
lunch. Rather than making a big deal about the check, just slip your debit or
credit card to the waiter in advance so it can be quickly processed and you
can just sign the receipt. Remember that going to lunch with a girlfriend is
more about the time you spend together, talking about your lives and
sharing experiences. The food part is secondary to the friendship. That’s
what your friend needs most.
2. Avon Calling: Your neighbor is selling something to make more
income, but your finances can’t cover it.
Cece says: Often people take on new business ventures to supplement
their regular income. This can mean they’re tight on funds. But if you are
also feeling the financial pinch, don’t feel obligated to purchase these
items.Avoid the promotional parties hosted by your neighbor. If you don’t
attend (think of a polite excuse), you won’t feel as pressured to purchase. If
your neighbor is hard-selling to much. Give her a firm but short response: “I
like your products but don’t have the budget for them at this time.” Then,
quickly switch the subject.
3. Everybody’s Doing It: Other parents are encouraging you to enroll
your child in a costly day camp/lesson.
Cece says: Keep the discussion among adults, not kids. Try to avoid
making your child feel uncomfortable in front of others. The less of the
conversation they hear, the less of an issue it’ll be. Again, short and sweet
responses are best: “This would be a great opportunity for my child, but it’s
just not in our budget right now. Let me know how it goes for your child so
that we could consider it down the road. Alone with your child, use this as a
financial educational opportunity. Don’t be afraid to let him/her know that
funds are tight and you have to make choices right now. Talk about
alternatives that are lower-cost, or explore a savings plan your child can
contribute to in order to be able to attend the camp or take the lessons later
4. Chip In: Several people are going in on a birthday present for your
friend, but you can’t afford to.
Cece says: Let the gift organizer know that you’ve chosen to honor your
friend’s big day another way. You can make her a scrapbook or some other
type of gift. If you can’t afford it, avoid a group birthday dinner or luncheon,
because in addition to your own meal you’ll likely have to chip in for the one
for the guest of honor.
5. To Buy or Not to Buy: You’re shopping with a friend who doesn’t
have a lot of money.
Janine says: I think if you are the one who has the money and your
friend does not, be sensitive to that. Don’t go buying the new pair of Jimmy
Choo’s in front of her if you know that might upset her. Think of other
activities you can do together or make plans ahead of time about what
specifically you are going to shop for so you are both prepared and your
friend comes with her budget in mind. If you know she can handle it, then by
all means, forge ahead, but always be respectful of the fact that budgets
come in all shapes and sizes…not just yours.
6. The Drive Divide: Who pays when you’re on the road, or driving a
Janine says: Fill ‘er up! Gas is so expensive now and it’s not going down
in the near future. If you know you are going to be driving to lunch every
week or that you have specific plans with friends that call for driving, make
sure that you are sensitive to who is driving and how much it is costing in
gas. Always offer to chip in for gas when someone else is driving and if you
know the person well enough that when they decline they mean it, don’t
press the issue, but you can always offer three times, after that, leave it
alone. It never hurts to take turns driving and spare the car and the wallet.