It’s easy to accidentally offend or inconvenience others, particularly when it comes to something as sensitive and varied as money. But it’s not hard to be more attentive, and generally stop being an ass when it comes to all things finance. Here, 21 easy ways to start on the path of Cool Friend Who Doesn’t Make Anyone Feel Weird About Money.
1. Don’t suggest doing really expensive things with people unless you are sure that they are okay with it, financially. If you have a friend/couple/group who enjoys going out to nice restaurants and trendy bars, have at it! But don’t recommend it to someone whose situation you don’t know. It puts them in the awkward position of having to either clarify that they can’t afford it, or going anyway and hating themselves for overspending.
2. Don’t offer to pay for someone else to be able to do said expensive thing if they can’t afford it (unless it’s a very particular circumstance, like their birthday or something). Most people feel degraded and embarrassed by having a peer offer to pay.
3. Pick up drinks/bills (if you can) randomly and without any sense of pity. Get someone a round on the fly because you really want to, or pick up a little book/trinket/bar of chocolate for a friend as a random gift. You can spend money on people if it feels earnest, non-judgmental, and reasonable.
4. If and when someone spends money on you in this way, be graceful and grateful. If it feels egregious, you can tell them in a calm and non-accusatory way that you’d prefer to pay for whatever it is yourself.
5. When someone brings up some element of personal finance, don’t make them feel weird for doing so. If you really don’t want to discuss it, tell them so in a way that doesn’t feel shame-y. But if you can, listen to them and give earnest feedback.
6. If a friend is traveling through town, do your best to offer them a place to stay. Not only is it generally good karma for the universe, you will appreciate the same offer when you are the one traveling. The easier we can make travel on one another, the better for everyone. Yes, it sucks to have your couch invaded for a few days, but it’s the right thing to do.
7. If one member of your group is in a radically different position than the rest financially, do your best to accommodate that without changing the group dynamic.
8. Initiate more at-home things, like watching movies on the couch, making dinner together, or having afternoon tea. The more you can do things that involve little-to-no money at all, the better it is for everyone.
9.When it comes to travel, always bear in mind that everyone’s budgets are different. Coordinate with your group beforehand on what you want to do every day, and what you might have to do separately.
10. If and when you have formed a bond with someone and exchanged private financial information, NEVER under any circumstances break that trust and tell someone else. Revealing another person’s finances can be detrimental socially and professionally, and also just generally makes you an ass.
11. Always be a timely Venmo-er.
12. Give your friends a few options to select from when proposing an activity, so that they can choose their own price point. This is a good way to find out where they’re at without having to ask and make things weird.
13. Don’t be afraid of a little pregame.
14. With trusted friends, make personal finance a comfortable topic, like sex, dating, or work. Be able to talk about everything from rent to investments to budgets. Your lives will become easier and more healthy if you can be open about money — one of the most important elements of your life.
15. With roommates, never assume anything about their financial lives. Just because they can make rent every month does not mean that they are in the same position as you are.
16. When a friend loses a job, take them out for drinks, and don’t let them pay for a thing. Get drunk with them, let them cry and rant about their former employer, and don’t judge. Be the person you would want to be around if you just got canned unexpectedly.
17. Always offer to pay on a date, and if you were the one who invited them out, insist on taking the bill. Never go on a date with the mindset that you aren’t going to have to pay, even if the other person ends up picking everything up.
18. Don’t impose cabs on other people.
19. Don’t get people weirdly expensive gifts. Coordinating beforehand on the budget for a gift is honestly way better than one person showing up with an iPad and the other with a paperback book.
20. If you sense that a friend is in dire straits financially, and are in a place to help, gently let it be known that you can help them. Asking for help from a friend is one of the hardest things a person can do, and having someone offer can be life-saving.
21. If you are looking for someone’s financial information for whatever reason (want to compare rents, salaries in your industry, etc), you need to be prepared to give up your own. You can’t expect someone else to show their underwear without showing your own.
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