We’re British, so talking about money in any way is pretty awkward. However there are those particular times in which it can be extra excruciating when it comes to money – the kind of embarrassing that makes you want the world to swallow you up.
I still get nightmarish flashbacks from the time I did a big Tesco shop, had everything scanned through by the till assistant, and my bloody card declined! There was so much food there, and all I could hear was a panicked ringing in my ears as my face got redder and redder. I did the standard ‘That can’t be right, I’ve only just been paid’ (I hadn’t) – and scuttled away after offering to put all the food back. It still makes me shiver with shame!
So here are some common, but horribly awkward situations most of us will have to deal with at one point or another (and how you should deal with it):
Your card is declined
A card declining is enough to make any of us want to die of shame. It’s a mix of simply someone else knowing that you don’t have enough money to pay for what you need, and also the scene it causes.
So if it happens, take a deep breath and quickly figure out whether it’s do with lack of funds, or if it is your bank playing up.
First off, don’t be afraid to leave the goods behind and come back with your card situation is better. Sure, it’s embarrassing – but blame your bank (whether its their fault or not!) and keep your head high (while getting out of that place as quick as possible!)
But what if you’ve just put petrol in your car, or you’ve just eaten at a restaurant? Because I’m pretty sure washing dishes in exchange of your dinner is just something that happens in films.
If it’s the banks fault, explain it, and give your bank a call asap, to see if they can fix the situation. If you’re cash short, and not with someone who can help you out, call up someone who can, and get them to give their bank details over the phone (if the person on the till is being unhelpful, ask for the manager), then you can pay them back when you have the cash.
Of course, to avoid this kind of situation, you can always have an backup card or keep cash on you (but life doesn’t always work that way eh?).
Collecting a debt
This is the one that I find hardest to deal with (always so tempted to leave it, and just seeth). Reminding someone that they owe you money is just really uncomfortable especially if it involves your friends and family.
I know people say you shouldn’t mix money and friendship – but for me, I’m always happy to help out friends – and I WANT to help out family, but yeah, not loaning money to friends does simplify things and there’s nothing worse than losing close friends over cash.
So if it’s a small amount like a fiver, just let them get the “next one”. So if you’re out to lunch, when it comes to payment, just say something like “Oh, I got the last one/lent you £5 – do you want to just get this? Probably easier that way!” and boom! Sorted.
If it’s a bigger amount, or you want the cash, I always think a ‘Hey, I’m a bit short of cash, any chance I can get that £20 back soon?’ That should jog their memory pretty quickly.
If they are still holding out on you – I recommend an email asking for the money because a) it’s easier! and b) you have a record of what’s being said.
Asking parents for help
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know i’m trying to buy a flat (what a saga!). We need a bit of help getting on that housing ladder and have spent about five years debating/guessing with my sister/boyfriend about if they would be able to help us – because asking for money is really hard. I don’t want to put my parents out – and frankly, I’m proud.
It’s not just when it comes to big asks like house buying, but especially after I graduated I was skint and had to ask for the odd £20 here and there to get through the week, and it feels awful, because you’re supposed to be an adult.
So if you think your parents would be able to afford to help you, here’s what i recommend you do. First off, get your parents in a good mood. You also don’t want this to be the first time you’ve spoken to them in months – spend time with them first. Make sure you have a good reason to need the money and explain why you need it (a new computer for work/paying rent etc), and tell them how you’ll pay it back.
The conversation is the awkward bit, so sit down with them and ask for the money. Explain that you’re not taking the situation lightly and that you’d only be asking if you really needed it.
Then all you can do is keep your fingers crossed!
Not knowing who’s paying
There are two scenarios I think are particularly awkward here, knowing how to split the bill with friends, and who is paying if you’re on a date.
You’re with a group of friends, you’re skint so have only had tap water and the cheapest main meal on the menu while your mates are guzzling wine and getting three courses. The cheque then comes and someone pipes up ‘Shall we just split it?’ and your heart sinks.
Right, it’s awkward as hell, but you’re going to have to pipe up. If you’re embarrassed and sat next to a loudmouth (like me! ha!), maybe mention that you didn’t drink and only had one course, and if they are reasonable, they’ll probably bring it up for you. If not, you’re going to have to do it yourself. They probably just didn’t realise that you didn’t have as much.
Ok, so you’re on a date. The bill comes – what are you going to do? I reckon, if you asked the date, you pay. If someone offers to pay, suggest going halves and see what the reaction is.
You forget your wallet
Ok, you’re out and you don’t realise you’ve left your wallet at home until you have to pay. Awkward! What are you going to do?
Not much you can do here than apologise to your date/friends and tell them you’ll get them back.
Most people are understanding of someone who forgets a wallet, it’s life. Just don’t make a habit of it, or you’ll look like a scrounger.
Splitting expenses with housemates
Living with housemates is a nightmare. I’ve taken charge of bills before, which means I’d have to tell housemates what they owe and when to pay by. Weeks go by, you think it’s all fine till you have a late notice letter. You Whatsapp the house and someone pipes up, ‘oh yeah, sorry. Just don’t have the cash right now.’
Oh, and then you get the housemates that think the washing liquid and toilet roll fairies supply the house. Not paying for essentials means you save a pretty penny.
The thing is, you reasonably expect them to pay their fair share, but people don’t have the same financial standards as you.
I’ve had years of experience living with people, and the best thing to do is get everything written down and stick it in a communal area like the fridge. Put down the bank details, how much everyone has to pay, and by when.
Put everyone in a house Whatsapp group, and the day the payment is due, check to ensure everyone has done it – because you can’t trust others to do it – especially if it’s your name on the bill.
So have I missed any embarrassing financial situations out? Give me your awkward stories!
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