Mind your money manners: Financial etiquette rules

Who is supposed to pay for dinner? Is it polite to remind someone that they owe you money? Personal finance columnist Liz Weston schools us on common financial faux pas.

Every week, we talk about something that's still taboo in many quarters: money. Discussing money makes people uncomfortable. And so there are rules of social etiquette that most of us try to abide by. However, personal finance guru Liz Weston says those rules could use an update. She got a little help figuring out these new money rules with folks at the Emily Post Institute, an organization that provides etiquette advice. One new money change: guys don't always have to pay the bill.

"It used to be you wanted the guy to pay the bill. I guess that was some sort of hold over of wanting to make sure he had some financial wherewithal. These days, the etiquette has changed. It's much more appropriate to simply split the bill. That way you can get to know each other without any sense of obligation. Manners do change over time, but the principles behind them stay the same. It's basically about respect and courtesy and wanting to do right by the other person," says Weston.

Something that hasn't changed: asking someone how much they make or how much they've paid for something.

"This is something that's absolutely personal and absolutely private and it's not appropriate to ask someone how much they make or how much they paid for something. That's being nosy," says Weston.

Even though we are in the age of social media and oversharing, Weston says it's important to think about what's appropriate. She says you should think about how the other person is going to react to the question you want to pose.


Rules to remember when it comes to money etiquette In the age of social media and oversharing, how has money etiquette evolved? The combination of tact and common sense still go a long way. Here are some tips to help you mind your money matters.


Another situation you may encounter: a family member or friend asking when you're planning to pay back money. Is that OK?

"That's an interesting one because normally that's a private transaction between two parties and you kind of put yourself into the possibility of having this happen simply by borrowing money from a family member. The guys at the Post Institute basically said it's not a good idea to do that," says Weston.

What about kids asking relatives for money?

"Kids should know that they should not ask relatives for money," says Weston. "You want to teach your kids that they should be self-supporting and not hitting their relatives up for money."

About the author

David Lazarus is an American business and consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

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