They say honesty is the best policy. I suppose that’s true when it comes to things like, telling your friend that the outfit she’s wearing does not look good on her. It’s true when your boyfriend says something that hurts your feelings and you have to confront him about it. It’s true when taking an exam and you decide to share your own responses and not your classmates. In such cases, yes, honesty is the best policy.
But when it comes to all things concerning finances, honesty is not the best policy. There’s no need to be honest about your finances. No one wants to know when you’re dealing with a severe financial hardship. That’s none of their business anyway. If you cannot attend an event due to finances, simply lie and say, I have other plans. You’ll have a way better outcome them disclosing the fact that your car payment is due on the 3rd and you won’t get paid again until the 15th and since their event falls on the 10th, you won’t have any money. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Saying “I have other plans” shuts the door and gives no room for follow-up questions.
Telling people “I’m broke” or sharing with them your financial situation does not do any good. It only leaves you open to being judged and becoming annoyed at their unsympathetic responses. Sharing such words will land you in one of the situations listed below, and it will not be pleasant.
1. They say, “I’m broke too.”
Everyone is having some sort of financial difficulty and it’s not up to us to determine who is in more dire need of money than the other. We all have financial obligations; we all have a limited stream of income; and we all wish we had more money. Telling someone that you’re broke doesn’t say much. When you say, “I’m broke,” all they hear is, “Okay, so you’re not living like the Kardashians, so what? You’re not homeless though, so you’re fine.” And this could leave you feeling more uncomfortable with your current situation than you were before you disclosed your financial situation.
“Broke” is relative. It means different things to different people. When the CEO of Netflix got a pay cut, he was probably complaining to his homeboys, like man, “I got a 1 million dollar pay cut, I’m broke.” Whereas, the fun-loving college student who stays in a dorm and is fully supported by her parents may feel she is broke because her parents won’t pay for the new red bottom shoes she can’t take her eyes off. A family friend may say she’s “broke” because she recently lost her job and has not been able to find a new one. If she doesn’t find the money to cover her rent, she will be on the streets.
Three different situations yet, the individuals in the situation want to describe themselves as “broke.” I’m sure the woman who can’t pay her rent shoots the side-eye to the Netflix CEO and the college student if she had a chance.
2. They say, “Well, it’s only 10 bucks!”
A few years ago, a former classmate of mine asked me if I wanted to go out for sushi. I was in between jobs at the time and had to adhere to a strict budget. I told her, “No, I can’t make it. I’m broke.” Do you know how she responded? She replied, “But the average meal there is $10! And they even have a $5 menu!” I was annoyed with her response. Who is she to tell me what I can or cannot afford? Was she going to pay for my sushi? Was she paying my bills and maintaining my “empire,” so to speak? No, she wasn’t, yet she had the audacity to tell me what I could afford and what I couldn’t. Hmph!
3. They judge you.
One’s personal financial situation is complex. Financial obligations vary from person to person. Some people have to care for their parents, while others have to support their spouse. Others live two different cities, and in each city, they must maintain the monthly expenses . While others are single, but have chosen to provide financial support to someone who needs it. Whatever our unique financial situation is it cannot be fully explained to our friends without them feeling like we are financial incompetent. So, they start to question us, or judge us. They say, “Oh you must not be budgeting correctly. You must need our help. Here’s what you need to do.”
Dealing with a severe financial hardship erodes your self-esteem. It pains you every time you go out for dinner and everyone at the table is ordering lobster and you lie and tell the waiter you’re fine with a glass of lemon water. It’s even worse when your friends tell you that you’re financially incompetent, judge you, or imply that you’re being overly silly about saving money. It’s enough to piss you off and vow never to call her again. Why put yourself through all that stress? If you’re experiencing a financial hardship, tell your peers you have plans and will not be able to go. No one has to know that your plans are to simply sit at home and eat Raman Noodles.