Personal finance reference guide

Rules to remember when it comes to money etiquette

Marketplace Contributor Jan 24, 2013

Peter Post of the Emily Post Institute offers the following hints on minding your money manners:

1. Don’t ask how much it cost, or how much someone earns. These things are still considered private, even in this age of oversharing.

2. Muffle your urge to brag about financial matters. Even if you just landed a great job, or made a killing in the stock market, going on and on about your good luck turns what should be a social interaction into a potentially competitive game of “How much are you worth?”

3. Don’t play the big shot. Healthy adult relationships are based on reciprocity. In most cases, it’s inappropriate to buy expensive presents for people who can’t reciprocate.

4. It’s OK to say no when asked for a loan—and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. “You’re not the one who created the negative situation,” Post said. “They did, by asking you for money.”

5. Don’t get into public snits over money. Yes, your sister-in-law is rude to constantly ask how much you pay for everything. No, your mother shouldn’t have brought up the loan she made you (and that you paid off) in front of gossipy Aunt Jean. Change the subject and move on, no matter how much you want to make a scene, and consider a having a private conversation later with the offender.


Tune into Marketplace Money this weekend for more on the new rules of money etiquette.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.