At a Glance
From splitting the bill on a first date to hearing the dreaded words “your card got declined,” few things in life can get as awkward as money. But don’t beat yourself up if you have found yourself in a sticky money-related situation more than once–it can happen to the best of us. Here are 10 situations that will show you just how common awkwardness around money is, according to finance experts.
Splitting the check on a first date
Guadalupe Sanchez, founder of Budgeting In Blue, says that the problem with splitting the check on a first date is that you’re never quite sure whether your date is going to pick up the tab, whether you are, or whether it’s going to be split in half. Her advice? Be clear about it from the get-go. “When the menu comes to your table, say something like, ‘The check is on me today.’ If you’d prefer to pay for half, you can say something like, ‘I’m happy to pick up half the check so don’t feel obligated to pay for everything.’ It may seem a little forward to establish this right from the beginning, but it will avoid the awkward, who’s going to pay moment.”
Being in a wedding party
Sanchez also says being in a wedding party can be one of the most awkward money situations out there. From brunches and parties to the actual wedding, there are a lot of expenses involved–and not everyone can afford them. According to her, setting a total amount that you’re willing to spend and sticking to it is key. “The wedding is the most important day so if you can’t make a second or third party, you shouldn’t feel forced to attend. Be honest if you have to, I’m sure they will understand.”
Getting to the checkout counter and being unable to pay
Have you ever fumbled at the checkout counter because you realized you were unable to pay for an item? It feels so awkward to explain to the store employee that you’re not going to proceed with the purchase after all. To avoid this embarrassing moment, always bring at least an extra $20 with you wherever you go, recommends Sanchez.
Payments for a burial
On a completely different note, it’s both awkward and painful to deal with burial expenses when you’re grieving, but, unfortunately, it’s a conversation that needs to happen after the loss of a loved one. “Investigate in advance and decide carefully on caskets and burial plans alternatives so you aren’t astonished once the staff asks for payments,” says Elena Jones, credit and personal finance expert and founder at Finance Jar.
Bill division with a large group
Bill division when you’re out with a large group is another potentially awkward scenario. “When you’re with close friends, it’s easier to request a separate bill than when you’re in group settings,” according to Jones. “In such a case, it is wise to request that the waiter bring you a separate bill when you are finished dining. You won’t have to go through the agony of having an embarrassing talk with your peers this way.”
Family members asking to borrow money
Finding yourself in the awkward position of having to decline a family member’s request for money happens more than you think. “It might be a very unpleasant conversation when you are unable to lend to a close cousin or acquaintance,” says Jones. “Being honest with them will help you deal with the situation better. Inform them that you will be unable to make loans and instead offer to help in another way. Don’t allow them to guilt-trip you, and make sure they understand that relationships aren’t founded on wealth.”
People having different ideas of budget-friendly restaurants
Here’s another awkward scenario: Your friend picks a restaurant for dinner–and you have very different ideas of budget-friendly options. “It’s not uncommon for friends to have different ideas about what constitutes ‘expensive,’” says Adam Garcia, CEO at The Stock Dork. “You can navigate this situation by letting them know truthfully that you don’t want to spend so much money on food and would prefer a cheaper place.”
You get accepted into a dream school but can’t afford the tuition
Patricia Roberts, author of “Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans” and Chief Operating Officer at Gift of College, Inc., says one of the most uncomfortable and heartbreaking money situations arises when a high-school senior receives an acceptance letter from a dream school that they worked hard to get into. Oftentimes, parents haven’t previously discussed the amount of financial support they are able to provide once all forms of financial aid are factored in, and that dream college might not actually be a viable option.
“If lack of available resources will result in the child taking on significant and potentially unmanageable student loan debt, the implications need to be discussed in detail (for example, the amount of monthly payments, the number of years it will take to repay the debt, and who will be responsible for repayment need to be fully understood) and more affordable options need to be considered as an alternative,” she says.
Your credit card gets declined
“We’ve all been there. You’re at lunch or dinner with a friend and you give your credit card to the server, who promptly brings it back and says it was declined. Well, now what?” shares Michael Cummins, Director of Finance at Insurance Geek.
If you have another form of payment on you, that’s the most logical fix. But if you don’t, you could try making a call to your credit card company to get an authorization for the transaction, recommends Cummins.
Not having enough money to cover a bill
Realizing that you’re not going to have enough money to pay a bill can be an anxiety and shame-inducing situation. But if you ever struggle to make a payment, it’s best to contact the company or service provider and explain your situation, says Brian Meiggs, founder of the personal finance platform Smarts.
“They will often be willing to work with you on a payment plan or give you an extension. If not, there are also options like borrowing money from friends or family, using a credit card or taking out a personal loan.”
All of these situations are stressful and if you find yourself in them repeatedly you could end up with load of debt. In addition to reassessing why this keeps happening consider using a debt consolidation loan calculator to help you get back on your feet.