These days it's easy to find yourself in an awkward moment when it comes to dealing with friends and money. Here's how to survive - without losing your mind or reaching into your wallet.
Situation #1: She never wants to go out for fear of spending money
How to deal: Rally your friend by making it a challenge to see how much fun you can have for $10 or $20. (She can pretty much pull that amount of cash out of thin air with one of these painless money-saving switches.) Or agree to set a limit of how much cash she's comfortable spending and promise to head home as soon as you both reach your total, no matter what. (But getting guys to buy you drinks is totally legit.) By sticking to your word, you're proving to your friend that being broke doesn't have to be boring, says Debra Condren, author of Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word.
Situation #2: You go out for dinner, and she expects you to pick up the check
How to deal: It's happened to all of us. As soon as the waiter drops off the check, everyone at the table becomes engrosses in their text messages, cuticles, or anything else that keeps them from looking at the bill. Instead of being the one to pick up the check, try this move instead. Offer to split the tab, then lay down your card and hand her the bill holder so that she can do the same. If that doesn't get her to plunk down the plastic, you may need to reach for a little white lie. Say, "I just spent a ton of money on my trip to visit my parents/an out of town wedding/the dentist's office, and I just can't cover you." If it's your guy that wants you to pay, it's time to ask him these money questions.
Situation #3: She can no longer afford your standing date
How to deal: Stay bonded by doing a cheaper version of your favorite activities. If you used to meet up for brunch on Sunday to rehash your wild weekend, meet at her apartment with bagels and coffee instead. If she's your shopping buddy, head to garage sales and flea markets with a mission to find the coolest thing for $5. But don't totally change your routine. Or turn your standing friend date into a money-making opportunity with one of these inventive ways to make extra cash.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.