Tell us your awkward money conversation

We know we’re not supposed to talk about money, politics or religion with friends. The subjects can create some awkward and unpleasant moments if you and your pals aren’t on the same page.

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When it comes to money, though, the recession may be forcing our hand.

You know your buddy’s unemployed. You’re out for dinner and you know he really can’t afford it. But he doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him. Make a big deal about trying to pay and you may make him feel worse.

So how’s it done? How do you navigate that tricky terrain?

A few weeks ago, we asked “Who buys the beers in the recession?” We got a few good responses. But I think people saw the “beers” headline and didn’t look deeper into what we were asking.

So here’s another chance to weigh in. Tell us about an awkward money conversation with friends and how you work through it.

We’ll highlight the responses in an upcoming post. We’ll also be tapping MPR’s Public Insight Network for stories.

Mark Pringle, a bookkeeper from Chilton, WI, told us he and his friends do the math and split the tab evenly when they go out.

His advice: “Avoid money conversations by minding your own business. If you can’t afford to do your part, don’t go out.

“A better alternative if you are pinched is to cook something at home. I frequently have friends over for Sunday breakfast buffet because it’s cheap and everybody likes breakfast. For less than the cost of one plate you get more real conversation and comfort.”

Like many folks in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, “I was raised with the idea that one does not discuss personal money matters with friends,” says Kathleen Monico, a semi-retired pharmacist from Park Rapids.

“If someone does bring it up I try to be understanding, but not offer much in advice, nor make comparisons to my own situation. If it is a very, very close friend who needs help, I may offer, but only if they ask and only if I can afford to help.”

Going out with friends, it’s assumed that each will pay their own way unless someone’s invited to a celebration, like a birthday, she adds. “Or we take turns if it is just one other person. This has not changed much in my circles.”

Share your story and you might be able to help someone else figure out what to say. Post something below or tell us here.

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