7 Awkward Money Moments and How to Handle Them
Like group dinners...and nosy aunts
Group dinners, coworkers who owe you cash, credit cards that get declined… There’s no shortage of “sticky” money situations. Here, seven of the most uncomfortable ones and how to get yourself out of a financial jam.
YOUR CREDIT CARD WAS JUST DECLINED
There’s nothing worse than dining out and being told by your server that your plastic is no good. In the moment, save face by blaming the magnetic strip. (“Ugh, I’ve been meaning to get a replacement card.”) Then offer to give your credit card company a ring. If it turns out you were declined because you’re over your limit, don’t panic. Worst-case scenario, you can tell your creditor you’d like to opt in to over-limit fees (but they can be hefty, FYI).
YOUR NOSY AUNT ASKS HOW MUCH YOUR MONTHLY MORTGAGE PAYMENT COSTS
You have two options here. You could skirt the question or tactfully respond with a non-answer: “We actually were able to lock down a super-great rate.” If she keeps pressing, you should feel free to be more direct (“Eh, we’re not really into sharing that info”) or coy (“Aunt Sheila, are you asking ’cause you’d like to donate some cash?”).
YOUR COWORKER OWES YOU MONEY FOR LUNCH
You both ordered Cobb salads out of the office, but then decided it was easier to throw down one card. If she keeps forgetting to pay you back, shoot her an email reminder (“Hey! Just wanted to follow up about our lunch…”) or, if you know she uses Venmo, simply send her a payment request for what she owes.
YOUR FRIENDS SPLIT THE GROUP DINNER CHECK EVENLY (BUT YOU DIDN’T DRINK)
Two words: Bring cash. (It makes it much easier to chip in the exact amount you owe.) Still, you are a grown-ass woman and should feel totally free to speak up about the fact that you owe less. Since the bill is already on the table, it’s OK to start off with a non-judge-y joke. Try “I hate to be a pain, but I’m off wine this month. Spending less is pretty much the only perk.”
YOU FORGOT IT’S “CASH TIPS ONLY” AT YOUR NAIL SALON
Look, it happens. If they have an ATM, use it. Or you can profusely apologize and promise to swing by with cash later. (Hint: Being nice is everything in these moments. Be sincere and say you’re sorry, and they might even let you charge it to the card.)
YOU DROVE TO AND FROM THE BEACH AND WANT CASH FOR GAS
If you were on the road for 30 minutes or less, it’s probably best to eat the cost. (Your friend will drive next time, right?) But if you’re the only one with a car or the one who’s constantly offering to drive, say “We might need to start a gas fund. Can you chip in for the next tank?”
YOU’VE BEEN ASKED TO CONTRIBUTE TO A GROUP GIFT, BUT DON’T FEEL LIKE PITCHING IN
Of course you’d love to support every single one of your pals, but $10 here and $15 there really starts to add up. If it’s a group email request from an acquaintance, it’s totally fine to ignore it. But if a close friend or colleague is asking, offer to pitch in some other way. (“I’m short on funds this month, but I can totally orchestrate picking up and wrapping the gift.”)