How to Handle Nosy Financial Questions with Grace


Life is filled with problems that we all deal with on the daily, and we should be so fortunate that most of our biggest life problems are very much first world problems. What do I mean? I mean, I complain about the fact that my daughter has competitive cheer practice three nights per week for two hours, yet I am able to afford the $2,500 fee for her to join the squad. I complain that I can never find a gas pump that actually pumps my gas at a reasonable pace and it feels as though I am outside in the heat forever waiting for my car to fill up. I can afford to fill up my car; and that’s not a problem.

First world problems are just that; not real problems. Another of the most common first world problems that I think many of us have to deal with involve nosy, personal questions people simply should not ask. For instance, I have been asked time and time again whether or not my twins are “Natural” or if they are not. Well, they are real babies; but I know that this is someone’s veiled way of asking me if I paid for fertility treatments (They are “natural” by the way). It’s not a question you ask; it’s nosy and invasive and private. Your grandmother would likely have a fit if she knew how many etiquette rules you were breaking asking questions like that.

However, it’s the personal questions about things like your finances that really are the most inappropriate. To ask someone if they are rich because they go on a nice vacation or have a nice handbag, to ask how much someone makes when they are given a promotion or make a new job, to ask someone how much their home costs or to ask how much they paid for something; it’s all inappropriate and it’s bothersome.

I am always bothered when someone asks me how much something costs. If I tell them, they react the same way, “I would never pay that much for something. That’s just stupid,” and if I don’t tell them, they react the same way, “It must have been expensive. I would never…” I can’t win. I can’t say to you that I would never buy shoes from Wal-Mart because that would make me a rude snob, but you can tell me I’m a stupid waster of funds.

It’s why people were not meant to discuss money. I notice it time and time again. I feel that if you are willing to volunteer the information, it’s one thing. However, I think that we all need to learn how to handle inappropriate financial questions when they come our direction. There is a way to handle them, and I’ve got the advice we all need right here.

Remember where people are coming from

Most people simply don’t realize that their questions are impolite. I am such an old-fashioned person in so many ways thanks to the influence of my beautiful 98-year-old grandmother. She is so elegant, full of grace and full of humor; and I want to be just like her when I grow up. It’s probably why I have so many old-fashioned values, such as not being nosy and not being inappropriate. However, society has changed and social media, the internet and everything in between make it so much easier for people to access information and forget their grace. Remember that most people asking questions such as these are not doing so to be rude, they simply don’t know better.

Go for humor

When I’m asked a question I don’t want to answer or am uncomfortable answering, I’ll just use humor. I thought it was just me, but it turns out it’s a great way to avoid answering questions from people you don’t want to answer. For instance, when someone asked me recently how much money my husband will make now that he’s been purchased by a major company, I said, “Still not what he’s worth since he is priceless!” and we laughed. Crisis averted.

Be polite

When someone asks you how much something costs and you feel their question is inappropriate, you can simply be polite. You can smile and say you never discuss money with anyone but your accountant and your banker. You can say that it costs far less than what it looks like, or you can point out that it was a great deal and you were so lucky you caught the deal before it was over.

If they persist…

Sometimes people won’t let things go. At that point, you simply have to tell them you’re not comfortable discussing it and end the conversation there. Do so politely, of course, but be firm on the fact that you are not about to answer a question that makes you feel uncomfortable.

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