Tag Archives: money

Dear Captain Awkward,

My husband and I are newlyweds. He is currently unemployed and job searching. We are living on my income and it isn’t much. However, I place my health at a high priority because I’ve had high healthcare costs in the past. We eat well, but we make up for it by almost never dining out. We budget carefully for when we do dine out and for our discretionary funds and we’re financially responsible.

We’re not exactly poor, but we do watch our budget. However, many of our friends don’t seem to understand this. When we arrange hangouts, we try actively to schedule something that doesn’t cost money or costs little. We even prefer having a single person over to going out to dinner with that person, because it is literally cheaper to cook for 3 than to pay for 2 at a sit down place in our area.

Our friends don’t seem to understand that we’re not poor, and that we don’t want to be treated to dinner. Everyone wants to go out, and when we ask about how much the place they want to go is, they offer to pay. This is not what we want. We just want to pay for our food or ask to hang out somewhere a little more affordable. We are hoping to have a family in the next 5 years so I’m saving very carefully.

We would say something like:

“I’d love to hang out, but we’re on a tight budget and we’re trying to eat home more. Would you like to come over for brunch instead of going out? I can make an amazing gingerbread waffle and some bacon and eggs, and Husband makes amazing pour-over coffee.”

And get this:

“No don’t worry, my treat!”

I know some of these friends are in financial difficulty too and their money is tight. I can’t tell if it’s cultural, because many of them are from my culture (Chinese) and we really love to treat others to food. That’s how we show love! I think it’s great, but how can I tell them that we can’t keep going out on their treat and enforce it lovingly but firmly?

Trying to Adult

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Dear Captain,

I was wondering if you could spare some advice on how to go dutch (AKA ‘make-people-pay-their-share) with people who are ‘sensitive’ (where ‘sensitive’ is in the ”easily-offended’ way, not the ‘sensitive-they’ll-figure-it-out-with-only-a-little-prompting’ way.) And these ‘people’ are all members of my in-law family which I would described as a relationships which are ‘generally-pretty-friendly’ but coated with a thick layer of ‘don’t-rock-the-boat’.

I don’t mind being generous (and I come from a family of similar) but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to deal with my in’s who are all financially well-off but when a bill comes around for a shared service are always suddenly stuck by the need to ‘go to the bathroom’ or ‘get something from the car’, have forgotten wallets, don’t have cash on them right now, will ‘get the next round’ or ‘are really short this week’.

I’ve tried some techniques in the past –

  • Pre-arranging payment methods beforehand (these get ‘forgotten’, wrong payment is brought, or guilt is brought out ‘I didn’t know it was so expensive here’)
  • Only bring a set amount of cash or trying to remind them that I had the last round (the ‘bring only a set amount’ has been a disaster – its resulted in long moments standing awkwardly round the till in silence with everyone looking at me while I muttered pathetically “Sorry, I only brought enough for me” or worse, they have all walked out/vanished leaving the bill unpaid. A member went back and paid it once we realized it hadn’t been covered but the experience was very unpleasant. The ‘I had the last round’ is met with excuses similar to if payment is pre-arranged).
  • Ask my husband to speak with HIS family about this. This had been met with either apathy and sympathy but no results. (“Yeah, they are like that and it is annoying. But that’s just how they are.”) (“Just don’t go out with them then.”)

I like spending time with my in-law family and we do a lot of other free fun things together but I’d also love to occasionally go out for a meal, see a movie or get my nails done in their company without having the pay for the pleasure.



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Dear Captain Awkward,

In a few months, my big sister’s getting married, and I’m a bridesmaid. Awesome!

The problem is that my estranged father will be there, and I legit cannot be around him.

My parents are divorced and Dad was always weird. When I was 16, he and I had a massive argument where he physically hurt me and I ran away. That was the last time I saw him. He mailed many long, convoluted, ranting letters about how horrible I was and how he would set me straight. I never responded. Mom had my back, and Dad disappeared.

But just before my eighteenth birthday, he cleaned out my savings account. It was full of money given by my late grandmother, before she died, for college. There was nothing legally we could do; the money was gone. Mom just gets by, financially, so I took out loans for college, and am paying them back. They’re large, and it’s tough, and it still stings, and when I as much as THINK about Dad I start to get angry.

Now, Sister also hates Dad, but they’re in touch. He would probably disown her, too, if she didn’t invite him to her wedding, but (probably to cement his invitation) he mailed her a VERY large check when she got engaged. Sister’s totally sympathetic, and I’m not angry at her for inviting him. She’s seating the two of us far apart at the reception, and sticking him with one of his annoying colleagues so they can keep each other occupied.

But a couple weeks ago, Sister grudgingly passed along a message from Dad saying that he hopes I’m doing well. This is the first communication we’ve had in years. It didn’t make me happy.

What do I do if he weasels through Sister’s precautions and tries to talk to me? My instinct is to run away, but he’s notorious for trying to drag people in, against all social etiquette. And though I like to think I can stay cool under pressure, I’ve got my own temper issues and if he won’t leave me alone, I’m very, very likely to yell at him.

I really don’t want to ruin my sister’s wedding. Or, be a part of my dad ruining it.

Bitter Bridesmaid

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Hi Captain,

I want to move out at the end of the year and I had the idea of moving into my Grandmother’s unoccupied flat (she lives in a home).The only problem is my family. My Mother is my Grandmother’s Administrator so she makes all the big decisions when it comes to my grandmother’s affairs but because she is my mother, she can’t be seen as giving any preference to my because I’m her daughter.

The issue with this is that even if it’s something she’d do for one of my cousins, if she does it for me then it’s favouritism. So she can’t make the decision and it has to be decided by her siblings, all 6 of them, most of which live interstate

So the next person who the majority of the decision falls to is one of my aunts who does not get along with my Mother at all (which makes me sad but that’s a story for another day). She is on the board of directors for the family business (of which the flat is part of the building) and so would be setting the contract, rent etc.

The first thing is that the flat needs some work before it’s habitable long term, the carpets need replacing because they are full of dust and mould, a proper stove needs to be installed and the bathroom may need refitting. 

Because this is such a potentially touchy subject, I can’t work out a way of asking whether it’s okay to move in (I am happy to pay for all utilities and rent as long as it’s appropriate) as well as bringing up the subject of renovations.

The other part of the issue is that the kitchen gets used by staff members of the family business for lunches and also that the flat is usually available for visiting family. 

I am happy for these things to continue and to vacate if family need to use it but I’m not okay with paying top dollar if this is the case. I don’t feel that it’s fair that I have to cover water and power usage of the staff members either so I would like that to be reflected in what I have to pay as well.

But I don’t know how to say that without causing a huge uproar or offending someone because I can see them taking it as if I am being selfish/cheap and un-family like. Is it right for me to ask these things? I’m not being unreasonable for not accommodating other people just because they’re family, right? I believe that family and business should be kept as separate as possible.

Thanks in advance,

Sick of Family Politics

Grimace from the old McDonald's ads

“Hi, I’m your shame!”

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I have written to you in my head so many times already that this should be easier than it is. I need something like hope.

Everything I touch turns to ash. If I want it/like it/believe in it, it will fail. i keep trying to come to terms with this, but I guess I’m just too dumb to know when to quit. It’s not like my life has ever been a parade, so I should be able to just slog through this darkness too, somehow. I’m almost thirty now, and I never really expected to get that far – but there you have it. I guess the trouble really boils down to the slogging has gotten more like treading water, and ~I’m just so tired~.

I live in a really conservative area, and have since I was little. Every time there’s been a chance of getting out, something has happened to drain my meager resources and mire me here. What little passed for low-income health care/support has been utterly decimated in the last two years. Even if doctors/therapists could help with the pain/darkness, I don’t have access to it. It’s shameful, but if it wasn’t for Husband’s apparent superpower of Acquire Food (seriously – random coworkers/acquaintances feed him constantly) we seriously would not have had bread on the table since my monumental hubris invoked the Cloud of Doom to prove it’s still there.

The short of it is that on the hamster-wheel that is trying to survive, I had two jobs for a while. The part time job was at a small local business, apparently quite successful, with more demand than could even be met. Family drama seemed to be the prime motivator when the owner decided to sell. Being the idiot I am, I asked how much.

I had my plan, I raised capital, I sought funding for the rest.

Hindsight: I should have pulled out when the owner refused to open the books fully to my/lender’s inspection for “personal privacy”. It was a sole proprietorship – seemed reasonable at the time. We couldn’t get funding at that time without the old books, because the powers that be saw us as a successor business, though the management and practices and staff were all changing. I had my plan, the way to streamline the processes and produce a better product. I had grand hopes for Being the Change, and also, for once, having enough to live on.

So – gods help me – I proposed a payment plan for the purchase.
A year and some change later, with many smaller battles and struggles behind me, ~their~ bank showed up to foreclose on ~them~, and pulled the rug out from under us.

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