Dec 9, 2010

Playing Fair with Money (Janssen)

Money can often cause problems in relationships. It's just an awkward and touchy subject. It's easy to feel like you're getting taken advantage of or suddenly realize six months after the fact that you forgot to pay them back for the movie ticket they bought you. I hate those kinds of situations.

A friend of mine called me the other day because she was running to the store to purchase an item that had unexpectedly gone on sale and she knew I was interested in one too. She offered to pick one up for me. A few hours later, I got an email from her telling me the exact cost, including tax.

I logged onto my bank's website, plugged in her address and the amount, and sent a check off to her, then an email to her telling her I'd done so.

I didn't have to think about it again (or try to remember to have my checkbook on hand the next time I saw her), she didn't have the awkwardness of wondering if she should remind me or just eat the cost, and neither of us had to wonder if we'd paid more or less than we ought to have. It was so lovely and I've had this experience with this same friend a number of times. She knows I'll pay her back in full and I know she'll be upfront about how much I owe her so I don't have to feel guilty.

I've really come to appreciate this from my in-laws. Bart's mom is the kind to be very upfront about money - you always know when they are planning to pay for dinner (no uncomfortable moments when the check arrives). There's no rounding up or down. If she owes you money for something you purchased in her behalf, you'll get reimbursed to the penny. And then when you pay her back, you don't have to wonder if you should round up. Easy and straight forward.

For someone like me who has enough social worries, this is very comforting to me. And I can't tell you how many times in the six years we've been together that Bart has commented how much he loves this about his mom. He probably mentions it at least once a month.

I'm sure you've all had "friends" who are happy to take advantage of you as far as money is concerned - never paying you back, or happily pocketing a little extra that you've paid.

Of course, I want to be the kind of person who doesn't drop a friend over $5, but even more so, I want to be the kind of friend that someone else doesn't have to worry will try and short them $5 (or $50).


Jenny said...

Good sportsmanship on ALL the playing fields of life.

Kayla said...

Hahaha I especially love this in light of our conversation from earlier. But yes, it's nice when everyone has appropriate expectations and plays fair!

Carly said...

I think it's all about being upfront. I hate the money issues of relationships when it gets unnecessarily awkward for me to simply say, "I can't afford to (fill in the blank)." I hate that some people think that I'm implying that I want them to pay for me or that I'm trying to get out of something. If I (we) can't afford it, it's totally ok. We won't feel left out or upset or offended that others are going to go and do whatever activity. I hate feeling like I have to come up with a different excuse because some people feel awkward about my inability to afford something.

Skeemer118 said...

I like to know what to expect & how much cash I need to bring on a trip. I try to inform others of costs when a group trip is planned whether I am in charge of it or not. It's just polite & kind to inform others. I know I'm always grateful when others inform me or don't leave me guessing about how much I owe them.

amber waves of grain said...

I hate awkward money situations. Unfortunately, I feel like they happen all too often in my life. I have a cousin that is notorious for forgetting to reimburse people... to the point where my husband will no longer let me buy anything for her unless she hands over the money first. I am usually the friend who just "sucks it up and deals with it," but my husband is the type that will politely remind you until you pay him back. Even if it takes 5 times.

megan said...

Ahem. I might owe Bart 7.00 for a Not Too Shabby t-shirt from 8-10 years ago. I think about it every so often. I don't know if I do, or if I don't. Ask him for me, k? Even if there is a statute of limitations of 7 dollars between siblings, I will pay.

I must admit, though, I'm a rounder. A rounder upper, not down. If I owe my mom 46.67, I will just pay her 47 if I am writing a check, or 50 if I have cash on hand. That is more comfortable to me somehow. But when somebody pays me back and rounds up by several dollars for tax, I feel uncomfortable and try to give it back.

So maybe you are onto something here. Give and get the exact amount.

amber waves of grain said...

Miss your updates!

Married In Chicago said...

This is a great post! In fact, it reminded me that my husband and I owe a friend 40 dollars for a pair of concert tickets. So I guess we're the guilty party in this situation. I'm going to make sure to pay him back next week.

On a different note, I've noticed that we have different money arrangements with different friends. With some friends, we often take turns paying for things. Maybe we'll pay for dinner one night and another night someone else gets the tab for drinks. I'm sure that it doesn't work out to be *completely* even, but over the years it feels even enough. With other friends, we always split the check. So regardless of what people ordered, we just divide the check by the number of people and pay that. And lastly, with others everyone tries to pay just for their share.

Anyways, sorry - I'm rambling. This post brought up lots of thoughts for me!

Krystina said...

I miss the updates!