Money Etiquette

MONEY ETIQUETTE

Despite so much happening in the world, wars, genocide, and of course economic turmoil.  Money and the economy seem to be the main cause of the world’s instability at the moment.  Naturally, we are paying more attention to the economy and news about even things we take for granted that might effect our lives soon.  Love your BlackBerry smartphone?  They are in big trouble.  In fact, if they are not bought out by a Chinese company or another big player in the smart phone world, they might fail.  Let’s face it, the iPhone is super cool, its the original and the Android is only the answer and imitation to the iPhone.  Sure it works for many, but it leaves RIM’s BlackBerry out in the cold.  I owned 2 Blackberry phones, I loved the actual buttons you push, but hated when you sat down or put it in its “holster” and it spoke out a voice command you didn’t want.  ITs larger, not as slim, not as sexy, there are pros and cons, but having owned both 2 iPhones and 2 Blackberry smartphones, I am sticking with iPhone.  Its a personal preference but just seems easier and more friendly… not just chic.

But, back to the matter at hand… MONEY and ETIQUETTE.  Seems like people are not good friends these days.  I’ve heard all sorts of stories about faux pas (bad move) where a friend asks for money to get out of a jam, and you give it to them and then they use it to go on vacation or out to a bar.  If you are going to ask a true friend for money, be sure its to pay for food, rent, gas, but don’t use it for vacation or a night out drinking. Once a friend the night before Thanksgiving wanted a drink, he asked me for $50 to be wired to him, but since Western-Union charges are at least $20 for a basic charge (at that time) I might as well send him $100.  But I said, if its ONLY a drink he wants, a bottle of vodka or whiskey is only $20, and that bottle will last you at least 5 nights of drinking.  If you go out to drink, sure, $100 will only get you 3 nights.  Some drink to drink, some drink to socialize, either way… if you have problems at home around the holidays and need to go out to drink, no problem.   I guess I run into a bigger problem is when someone says they need money for a computer to do work, or need to co-sign for credit but in the same sentence they are going for a new set of tattoos, playstation or x-box video games or even 3D TV.  I can even understand a family vacation.  You can’t disappoint the kids and I’ve lived long enough to learn that vacation is VERY important to the soul and mental and physical health.  Its not a luxury, its a necessity.  Why else should we work 50-70 hours each week (if we are fortunate enough to do so) and never  reap the benefits.  We are not slaves, but we easily could be.  So make it a local vacation or one by short plane trip or even one overseas.  The years go by fast.  Make at least 1 week to escape, even that is not enough, but you should do at least that.

Another faux pas:  “I need $50 for gas, $100 for rent, $200 for whatever to help bring in work.  Fine… but don’t tell me that you took the entire family out to a restaurant which would have equalled the same amount I loaned you.  When I loan money, I have 2 thoughts in mind:  1) I am loaning it to you because I trust you, you are my friend, I know you won’t fall short on your promise to pay me back or 2) I know you are no good for the money but we have a relationship, but I know if you don’t pay me back, I never have to lend you money again because I can always say “you never paid me back from the first loan”, at which time that person will probably stop talking to you, and that is fine. I will happily pay $50 for some people who are “friends” to exit my life.  I only kept them around long enough because we have a past, but if they want to start draining my  savings, then $50 is a small price to let them go, and you go out being the hero.  If its a friend who I truly value and needs money, I will help them out and expect nothing in return, but those friends are very few.  People will always look for a handout.  And its not about helping out friends, or being paid back, its about people who are sincere and are truly in need of the money, even if they can’t pay you back.  You should help your friends, because someday you can easily be in the same situation.  But never lend out something you are counting on getting back even in the best case scenario.

One classic example is of 2 of the most famous and richest people in their industry.  If you ever seen the classic movie Apocalypse Now, you know the ending was not quite right.  The Director, Francis Ford Coppola pleaded with Marlon Brando to re-shoot the ending of the movie.  I don’t know if it was 2 day or 2 more weeks on location in Southeast Asia. But Brando refused.  Coppola pleased “do me this one favor, its a favor, for me, please, just do it” and Brando simply said “you are my friend, but I don’t do $20,000 favors for anyone family, friends or otherwise”.  I guess he figured that is what he should be compensated for his time IF he had another role pending, but I don’t know but I don’t think he did.  IN this case, Brando was not being a good friend.  So that is why though the movie was a success, it ended in such a strange and understandable way, that the only thing that explains it, is Brando’s unwillingness to re-shoot certain scenes.  For me, an artist is dedicated to his craft of work, a movie, whatever, the topic of money should have never come up, unless it was costing him money, clearly, Brando fell short of his friendship to Coppola based on the facts I see and know.

So, if a friend has a truck and helps you move one weekend, and you buy him lunch an dinner, that does not replace the $1k you loaned him for a truck repair when he decides to take the family to aruba.  Pay him for his services up front, same as you would a moving company, and all is fine.  Then its you doing the favor, giving him a job you could have given someone else who is more qualified.  Or, barter, he helps you move, you give him $1k for vacation… or you pay him a day rate, but don’t ever let the favor result in a loss like you pay them, then loan them money, then you are never repaid the loan.

Money is a funny thing, when you have it, everyone else will work 10x as hard to get it from you, but when you don’t have it, and they give you some work they think they own you.  Its ok to help out family and friends, but beware of those who are too easily encouraged to take advantage.  I can make this entry 2 more pages, but you get the idea.  Be generous to those who deserve it.  Be more generous to those who repay the favor, but only be slightly generous once for people you like who will never be able to pay you back even for ride to the airport.

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