Saying “No I Can’t” Because of Money

It is so hard to say no! It is especially hard to say no to our friends, who we love, or who we like well enough but think for whatever reason that it is imperative that they love us. And it especially hard when the “no” is because of money. Or is it easier, money being an inarguable reality like the weather? “It’s raining / I’m broke.” No, it’s harder, because it is hard to acknowledge to our friends that we might be coming up short, that the thought of spending is making us hyperventilate, and that even though we love them maybe we don’t have or can’t afford to part with the $1,000+ their wedding will cost us.

WaPo advice columnist / demigod Carolyn Hax shows us the way:

Q. HOW TO DECLINE WEDDING INVITATIONS I’m getting many wedding invitations these days and unfortunately I just can’t afford to go to all of them. Some friends understand, but how do you explain that to the brides who just don’t seem to get it and keep pushing you on it?

A. CAROLYN HAX You don’t. You’re under no obligation to explain at all, though with a good friend you’ll want to say something, of course: “I would love to go but I can’t afford it.” Done. If pressed, you ask them please to respect you enough to accept that you’d go if you could. Beyond that, the couples’ behavior makes for a good sorting tool. Remember who was gracious and who was pushy, and then, as you continue to be called upon to invest more money and energy in your friends than you have to give, choose to give to the gracious ones.

A Father-Daughter Duo Answers Your Questions: Is This the Right Time to Leave My Job?

I've worked for eight years at a job that I've mostly loved. In the past three years I've learned an enormous amount from my supervisor, and have grown tremendously in the position. This supervisor is moving on to another position, and the people above will most likely replace her with someone who's vision I don't share. She's done an incredible job in the past three years of shielding me and her other employees from the powers that be, who don't seem to understand the realities of our work. For the first time in eight years I'm looking very seriously at new positions. I have interviews, but I don't have any offers yet. I'm pretty hopeful about one position in particular coming through. Here's the dilemma that I face: If I leave the job, I would be one of the four people in leadership positions to leave all at once. The thought of what that would do to the organization, and how it will be managed after we leave, is quite devastating to me. But is that enough to stay? To complicate matters a bit more, I'm a very new mom and I worry about how the stress of a new job will make parenting in the first year that much harder. Help!

WWYD: Prudie & The Ethicist Edition

Wouldn’t Prudie and the Ethicist be a good name for a band? Anyway. Someone wrote a letter to Slate’s Dear Prudence with a question that they should have pointed our way:

My good friend has found her mate after several failed relationships and is desperate to be married and start her family (tick tock). I am thrilled that she is engaged, and she has asked me to be in the wedding. I would normally be pleased to do so, except for one issue. She has debt of approximately $250,000 in credit cards and student loans, and she has not told her fiancé about this. I feel strongly that she is morally and ethically required to tell him before they are married, but she refuses. I can’t help but feel like an accomplice to her dishonesty by standing up in the wedding. What is the right thing to do? —Silent Accomplice

Prudie tells SA that she’s right to be squicked out: her “good” friend is perpetrating a fraud.

debt like this is something that simply must be revealed before two people wed. Keeping from your intended painful news, like a diagnosis of major illness, a previous incarceration, or the fact that you are dead broke (and not Hillary Clinton dead broke), means starting a life together based on an implicit lie.

Startlingly, Prudie does not suggest that SA write the clueless fiance an anonymous letter suggesting he follow the money. I wish we knew whether the bride were hiding financial truths from the groom or straight out lying. Either way, marriages have been based on deceit since the beginning of time. Years shaved off of ages, ex-wives forgotten, goats gone unaccounted for, paternity fudged. This can be seen as just another strike against the Wedding Industrial Complex, the societal idiocy that drives us to get married at all costs, often literally. Audits and prenups for all! Or don’t get married. That’s cool too.

Meanwhile, at the Ethicist’s lair …

WWYD With a Five Figure Check?

So, let’s say an elderly relative gave you a check for five figures as part of her estate planning, essentially an advance on your inheritance. Not a hugely extravagant amount of money, but quite a goodly sum, enough for one whole month of full-time long-term care insurance.

SIDENOTE: long-term care insurance is so hilariously expensive it seems insane that it could save you money in the long term, and yet Roz Chast’s new graphic memoir about the decline and fall of both of her aged parents, culminating in having to put them in a home, would scare any reasonable person into scrambling desperately to secure some kind of safety net for themselves.

Five figures! It’s not a prize, like the Pulitzer. It’s not salary. It’s not fun money, because it’s given in the spirit of Thinking About the Future. Obviously it’s not Quit Your Job and Retire money but it’s not nothin’. What do you do with it? Buy real estate, or ice cream sandwiches, or both? Invest in something? What? Put it in your IRA, or is that too boring and conservative?

Don’t worry, my fella and I are seeing an actual Financial Planner on Friday and so will get expert advice then, but in the meantime I’m curious. WWYD?

The Last (Profane but Awesome) Word on Weddings

Samantha at Bitches Gotta Eat decided to answer every wedding etiquette question you can imagine, and she does it with aplomb, if by “aplomb” you mean “caustic honesty, jokes, and lots of cuss words.” For example, if you are invited to someone’s destination wedding, do you still bring/send a present and, if so, a present that represents the same amount of money you would spend on the couple if you weren’t also shelling out for airfare, hotel, etc? Samantha’s answer:

if i were you i would: 1 buy a first class ticket, for sure; 2 invest in a good quality jersey dress because ironing in a hotel is the lamest, you should be drunk; 3 fuck every dude you make eye contact with over that cocktail you’re sipping out of a coconut, and 4 get those assholes a giftcard in the checkout line at the grocer. congratulations, guys! please enjoy your dinner at ruby tuesday!

My (deep down secret) thoughts exactly. She also answers the even pricklier question of Plus Ones.

should we put “and guest” on the invitations addressed to our single friends?

man, fuck you and fuck this. YOU CHEAP BASTARDS. of course you should. the only thing worse than being a smug single person at some asshole’s stupid wedding is being a smug single person at some asshole’s stupid wedding with no one awesome to talk shit about it to. as much as i don’t want to burden you with that extra $75 lukewarm chicken breast spent on some dude i found on craigslist, just think of it as an insurance policy that i won’t fuck your reception all the way up with my drunk crying and vomit-flavored hiccups.

Do yourself a favor and scroll through the full list. Can’t guarantee agreement; can guarantee catharsis.

WWYD: Judging Friends for Being Broke and Wanting to Have a Baby

A friend and co-worker of mine is on a mission to have a baby. She's always wanted to be a mom and finally at 34, she's in a fantastic, stable relationship with another co-worker who equally wants to be a dad. They're going to make fantastic parents. The problem is, they're broke. The bigger problem is that it isn't a problem for THEM and that strangely feels like a problem for ME.

A Father-Daughter Duo Answers Your Questions: Should We Use Our Money to See the World Now, Or Save for the Future?

My husband and I live well within our means in a very expensive city. We save what we can in his 401(k) and my Roth IRA. We have some accessible savings in our credit union, however we are not really saving much. We have prioritized world travel as our luxury. We are able to do this in an affordable way, considering the luxury, by often attaching our adventures to his work trips or relying on the kindness of friends who live or own abroad. The cost of the trips pale in comparison to the cost of things like raising a child (or two), or owning things! Would you say it's worth investing in our lives right now when a couple of thousand dollars allows us to see the world, or put all that money away (somewhere!) to help out a little in the future? To add, we will hopefully make more money in the future. Thanks!

A Father-Daughter Duo Answers Your Questions: Balancing a Relationship With Financial Differences

Here's the problem: my boyfriend has HUGE student loan debt. Like, staggeringly large. His salary is pretty low... which doesn't bother me except that he's barely making any inroads on paying off his debt, and doesn't really have a plan to do so. I don't mind being the bigger contributor to our rent, bills, etc., but I don't want to sink my life savings into paying off his debt, not least because of the, let's face it, entirely real possibility of future break-up or divorce. A girl's gotta be practical. Photo: Vinoth Chandar

Is “The Ice Cream Rule” Helpful?

Think about a big delicious bowl of ice cream. What could be more delightful during these stifling, humid months? Ice cream is gluten free, so our annoying friends can enjoy it. There are coconut milk-based varieties for the lactose-intolerant and low-sugar versions for the weight-conscious. Slap it between two cookies or in a cone, and you can visit heaven en route to wherever you’re headed.

No matter how much you enjoy your dessert, though, you probably don’t begrudge someone you love a bite, right? Sharing is caring! Even better, what if you were able to put aside that bite for yourself and enjoy it in the future?

You can probably see where we are — or, more precisely, Money Crush is — going with this. The “ice cream rule” encourages us to think about money like ice cream. One bite of a two-scoop serving is about 10%, and if you can convince yourself to put away 10% — without feeling like you’re depriving yourself of anything right now — you’d be in great shape!

Consistently putting away 10% of your salary toward a long term goal can make an enormous difference. In fact, 10% of your salary can make you rich over the long term if you invest it wisely and consistently. 10% of a bowl of ice cream isn’t very much. It’s no big deal. It’s only when you think things like “How can I ever save 10% of my salary?! That’s an extra X thousand dollars!” that you get overwhelmed and it seems like a huge amount. Yet many of us regularly spend more than 10% of our salary on things that we don’t even have any longer without giving it a second thought. The thing is, 10% really isn’t very much in comparison to the other 90%, no matter how big of a number you’re dealing with.

As Lifehacker puts it, “If you think about saving 10% of your income like you are sharing a bit with your future self, saving becomes a lot easier.” It is worth saying, though, that it’s easier to offer someone 10% of your ice cream while the serving in front of you is abundant and you get to see the satisfaction and gratitude in your friend’s face. It’s harder to take 10% of what’s in your bowl and put it in another bowl and put that bowl in the freezer. Not impossible, just a little more challenging.

Advice to New Freelance Writers: How a Freelance Writer Makes a Living

“I’d really like advice for pitching to publications when you have very little published work on your resume/CV. How do you get started?” The word “publications” in this case is very vague.