Managing Awkward Financial Situations

As you start taking control of your finances, you will start paying attention to every penny spent and every available dollar. This means that the little inconvenient situations that commonly arise like office gifts and lunch with friends a little more difficult. Here are some great ideas to tactfully handle a few common and awkward financial situations while still sticking to your budget.

The Group Gift

Group gifts can be difficult. You may be interested in going in on a gift and then feel astounded when you find out that the group has decided to purchase a luxury gift and needs hundreds of dollars from each contributing member. To avoid this awkward situation, first get a general idea of what you are willing to spend on the gift. When someone asks if you want to go in on a group gift, ask what gift and budget they have in mind. If a decision hasn’t been made or if the gift is out of your price range, simply mention that you had other ideas and will purchase your own gift this time. Then go out and find a gift that will work with your financial goals. You don’t have to overspend just because everyone else has decided to. There are many excellent gifts that you can purchase while still sticking to your financial goals.

Dinner with Friends

Taking control of your finances isn’t about never getting to go out or have a good time any more. Rather, you are just doing the things you love on your terms and as you can afford them. When going out to eat with friends, you can make dinner decisions that will work with your budget. Every menu has a wide range price options. If you know how much you can spend, be sure to order something that fits within that amount. You have a couple of options to avoid awkward situations when the check comes. You can either ask for your bill to be separate when you place your order, or you can speak up if the group tries to divide evenly and you have spent a lot less than everyone else. Bringing cash along, in small denominations can work great. Simply figure out what you owe (including tax) and tack on a generous tip. Then say something like, “This should cover what I owe, since I spent a lot less, I would rather that we don’t split the check straight across.”

Christmas and Other Holidays

Holiday gift giving can be especially stressful. When you open a generous gift and have only purchased a small and generic gift for the other person, it can be really awkward. Remember that what you choose to give doesn’t have to be based on what you receive. Sticking to your financial goals is important and you will have to choose gifts in your price range. If you know that you can’t spend a lot, but want to find a thoughtful and generous gift, remember that thought counts.Rather than purchasing a $5 gift card to a local fast food restaurant, purchase an inexpensive frame and include a favorite picture. Add a personal and meaningful note, to make your gift really stand out. You may also want to purchase a few inexpensive but nice holiday gifts to have on hand if needed. Remember, everyone sets the budget that works for them, and your budget is determined by what you have, not what others have.

Mastering the art of personal finance won’t be easy.  However, if you use a little creativity and dedication, you can find solutions to potentially awkward social situations.  Never apologize for sticking to your financial goals.  Be proud of the decision that you have made and stand firm, even if it requires a bit more work.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike - Saving Money Today

Great tips…it can be very awkward when others are expecting you to chip in a certain amount and you think that is too much.

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Kevin

yea, especially when you have a budget and it’s pretty small.

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Everyday Tips

I especially like the tip about creating a more personal gift. Those are the most meaningful gifts by far. Nobody will remember the dollars spent using a Starbucks gift card, but they may keep a personalized gift forever.

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Kevin

exactly, I really wish everyone started moving towards personal gifts…. especially for kids

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Evan

The check dividing is so awkward! If the majority says split I always split. I think it is part of going out. It angers the wife to no end lol

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Kevin

Nice, yea you just have to not let it bother you.

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Aloysa

We have budgets for pretty much everything. But of course almost all of the situations you mentioned can be really tough. People just don’t get it when you tell them that you really cannot afford it. Oh well…

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Kevin

yea, but everyone has their own journey.

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Joe Plemon

This sentence “Remember, everyone sets the budget that works for them, and your budget is determined by what you have, not what others have.” is a great one. Even if we find ourselves in awkward situations, we need to have enough backbone and principle to follow what we know we can afford instead of caving and having regrets. Great post.l

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Kevin

Following the crowd can lead you to jumping off a bridge, just like the saying.

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Financial Samurai

What about disappearing a minute before the waiter is to get the check???

BTW, we are going to employ the MozRank Kevin, so stay tuned and drop by the forums when you get a chance.

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Kevin

As long as everyone does it then it won’t be awkward.
I’ve been reading up on the convo. That will be great if we can move people away from PR.

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Parvinder

Yes, you are right. I keep track of every penny and I know every month how much money I’m going to spend but every month there is something happen that cause me to take out some extra money, that’s not a funny part.

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