People eat in an outdoor dining area in Hong Kong. (Photo: AFP)
Money can be a touchy topic, especially when it comes to getting from or giving it to someone. We bring you tips on money matters with friends or family without the awkwardness.
HANDLING SPLIT BILLS
You’re headed out with friends to a movie and one of you picks up the tab for the whole group after agreeing that it’d be split. The protocol calls for you to complete paying them back at the earliest.
If it were you who picked the tab, you could send out requests for payments right away instead of waiting for people to send payments to you.
SPLITTING THE GROUP DINNER BILL
There are a couple of ways to chart this course. First, before you choose a restaurant as a group, ensure you’re comfortable with its price range.
Another way is to make it plain that you could all pay for your own meals and ask the server for separate cheques right at the beginning as you order your meals.
If you ate just a salad while the rest of the group gorged on biryani and kebabs, pairing them with a couple of bottles of wine, it’s perfectly fine for you to put in, "We’re paying for our own meal, aren’t we?"
Alternatively, check the bill, and if your dish costs much less, you could point it out to the group, saying, "I figure `200 will cover my salad, tax and the tip. Do you mind if I put that in and let you split the rest?"
Besides not sounding aggressive, such an approach will make sure you’ve let everyone know you prefer to pay for only what you ate.
ASKING FOR DONATIONS
Donations can be tricky. While close family and friends may be happy to give something every time you approach them, soliciting donations from distant relatives and friends you haven’t been in contact with for long can be a little sensitive matter.
An idea in the latter situation is for you to email those friends and relatives annually and ask which causes interest them most, so you approach them for just the causes that interest them.
Also, while asking for donations remember to share pointers on the impact of the organisation you’re collecting the donation for and why you personally believe in it. And no matter what, ensure you send them all a personal thank-you note for their contributions when the fundraising project is over, and let the donors know their generosity made an impact.
LENDING MONEY TO FRIENDS OR FAMILY
Whether it is co-signing for or lending to a friend or close relative, assess if you’d be stepping in for someone who can pay you back the money you helped them with.
If they don’t look like they can pay you back or if you’re not in a position to help them, it’s best to step back and excuse yourself, letting them know that you’re not in a position to help them right then. If you’re in a position to help them and know that they may not return the money, lend only if you think you can give it as a gift, without expecting it back.
DO YOU PAY FRIENDS FOR THEIR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE?
In most cases, nothing justifies asking for free professional help. So if you plan to ask a friend or family member for their professional advice and effort, ensure you first talk about money and fees so that they’re compensated for their time and efforts.
If they don’t bring it up first, you could check how you’d be taking care of the business side of help and if there’d be a contract that outlines what is to be done and how much you’ll be charged. While that kills the awkwardness for the other in helping you out with their professional skills, it’ll keep you from the surprise of seeing the bill they plan to dish out for their services.