Whether you like it or not, everyone's always thinking about money — how to make it, spend it, and talk about it.
Since what they say is true — money makes the world go 'round — let's make sure we all know the right way to handle the most common financial situations and conversations.
1. Don't assume that just because people have money that they'll want to spend it the way you would.
Imagine you ask a friend for dinner, and even though you know they earn more than you, they say the particular restaurant you chose is out of their price range — even though it's in yours. Before you try and convince them that it's actually pretty affordable, take a second to think. Maybe they have debt you don't know about, or are saving for something; maybe they don't like that kind of food, or eating out; or maybe it's something you'll never find out about! Whatever it is, everyone has their reasons for spending (or not spending) and as a good friend, it's your job to respect those choices.
2. And don't pass judgement on someone else's decisions to spend their money on something.
Your co-worker gets a weekly manicure? That's cool. Even though you think it's absolutely ludicrous that someone would pay someone to paint their nails, when they could so easily do it at home? Still cool. Because it's their money, not yours.
3. Always consider your friend's financial circumstances before suggesting a particular bar or restaurant.
This is an easy one: if you know a friend earns a lot less than you, is careful with money, or is saving for something, let them steer the conversation about where to meet. They're more likely to suggest somewhere that's within their budget if you hand the reins to them, instead of waiting for them to awkwardly push back on something you suggest.
4. When splitting the bill, always stop and think about whether an even split is actually fair or not.
You might not have noticed while you were eating and drinking, but someone at your table might have said no to every glass of wine and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu. Splitting the bill evenly when the food and drink ordered wasn't distributed evenly is a very rude of saying, you deserve to pay more than your share, so I can pay less than mine. If every member of the party truly insists on an even split, after you've identified that might not be fair, go ahead — your thoughtfulness will still be appreciated, trust me.
5. When organizing a group gift, outing, or trip, ask everyone to share their individual budget before making any plans.
Look, you know your circle of friends best, but it's worth noting that gift-related group texts are a breeding ground for peer pressure and anxiety. Suddenly, everyone agrees that $50 is a reasonable birthday amount, while one person had budgeted to spend around $20 and now feels too awkward to speak up. If you're the person organizing a joint gift, it's worth reaching out to people separately to gauge interest and a reasonable dollar amount.
6. If you ask a skilled friend to do something for you, offer to pay them just as much as you would any other professional.
If your pal does a certain thing for work — takes photos, designs websites, makes novelty ceramic mugs — and you ask them to do it for you, it's still work for them. Yep, even though you're their friend, they are still 👏 doing 👏 something 👏 they 👏 make 👏 money 👏 doing 👏. The time they spend doing shit for you is time they're not spending on another project. And sure, they might flat-out refuse your payment, and that's fine, but you've still got to offer.
7. When you owe someone money, pay them back straight away.
If this can't happen for some reason, at least give them the exact date that you're going to be able to Venmo them, and then stick to that deadline. It's awkward having to follow-up about money a friend owes you, so don't make your pal who was kind enough to lend you some $$$ have to do that, OK?
8. Never ask people how much their belongings — or rent — costs.
Look, if you're really that intrigued about how much a friend's engagement ring, car, house, or new shoes cost — just Google it. It's 2018 and you can find out pretty much anything if you really care enough to make the effort. Do not ask them to their face and put them in an awkward position.
9. And don't feel obliged to tell someone how much something cost you, just because they ask.
If someone asks you how much money you spent on something, all you need is a polite "I'd rather not say actually" or "Why do you ask?", to put the awkwardness back on them.
10. Refrain from making passive-aggressive comments or assumptions about people's nice things or big purchases.
While you might feel like muttering a "must be nice" under your breath when your friend brings up their upcoming vacation, this is not the way to handle any situation. The way people save and spend their money is a deeply personal, so there's no real way of knowing how long someone waited to make a purchase, or what it really means to them. Plus, the only purpose of these kinds of comments is to make someone feel shitty, right? And that just isn't very nice.
11. Don't complain about money to someone who you know earns less than you.
This one is actually just, like, basic politeness? It seems obvious — at least to me who for a long time, earned the least in my friend group — but complaining about your salary or how ~totally broke~ you are to someone who is LEGIT struggling is the easiest way to make them feel like total shit. Think before you speak and try to spare your mate's feelings.
12. And regardless of what you know about your friends' income, debts, and expenses, remember to always be kind in how you talk about money.
For some, not having enough money is the struggle; for others, having money they've never had before could be a unique struggle they can't explain. There are a million ways people manage their money and each of these can come with their own unique guilts, issues, and insecurities, so be kind, yeah?