ACCC Explains How to Navigate Awkward Money Situations

National non-profit offers advice on how to deal with friends and family when it comes to lending money, dining out, and dealing with social situations. Splitting the bill

Boston, MA – January 20, 2015

Splitting the billWhen it comes to finances, most consumers will agree they have encountered at least one awkward money situation in their life. In fact, according to one survey, nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. adults have avoided a person or a situation because they knew it would be an awkward money moment.Whether it is being asked to lend money to a family or friend, determining how to split the bill at the end of a meal out with co-workers, or figuring out the right way to decline an invitation to a wedding or night-out with friends because of finances, there are few situations that come between family and friends as easily as money.

To help consumers navigate these awkward money situations, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling has released tips to help mitigate tensions and manage the situation successfully and gracefully.

“No matter who you’re dealing with, money is a sensitive topic,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Managing awkward fiscal situations, especially with family members can be taxing and stressful, but there are ways to go out about it. Remember to be upfront and honest with the individual and yourself about your finances. The worst thing anyone can do is put themselves in debt simply to avoid saying ‘no’ or feeling embarrassed.”

ACCC offers these easy tips to guide consumers through sticky financial situations:

Lending to Family or Friends

  • Be honest about your own financial situation As always, be honest and open about your decision of either lending or not lending. At times you may have to fib a little as to not hurt the recipient’s feelings, but hopefully they will respect your honesty and your decision.
  • Set the expectations upfront How much are you willing to loan?  If this truly is a loan or has been presented as such, be clear of that. With a loan there are expectations that must be met, such as the time the loan has to be paid back and if there will be interest on the loan amount. If necessary, write up the terms of the agreement and have both parties sign.
  • Always discuss with a partner/spouse before agreeing to the loan Remember your spouse or significant other may not feel as strongly about lending money which could lead to stress in the relationship.  If this becomes an issue, be upfront with the person and tell them that you are unable to give them the loan. If they are at all reasonable the person in need will understand – after all you are trying to help them out.

Splitting the Bill

  • When going out to eat with a group plan ahead and bring cash so that you can escape the awkward conversation about splitting the bill, pay your way efficiently and avoid paying more than your share. If there is a large disparity between the amount that each person spent, then you can suggest that everyone pays what they owe rather than an even split.
  • The introduction of new phone apps such as Splitwise or Foodivide, can help to determine the exact amounts to split after a meal or if you prefer to transfer money directly to a friend or family member at the table, try using apps such as Venmo or PayPal which allow you to automatically transfer funds using the person’s email or phone number.
  • This goes with dining with Mom and Dad too – who is picking up the tab?  Should your parents cover it just because you are their child? Avoid the situation all together by having this conversation ahead of time; they shouldn’t feel as though they need to pay for you and vice versa.

Declining an Invitation to a Social Event or Vacation

  • Everyone has been invited to lavish dinners out or activities that might be well out of your budget. When this happens, rather than immediately declining, present alternative options that are both fun and affordable. For instance, rather than attending a concert that may cost upwards of $200 for the ticket alone, opt for a night out to hear some local music or stay in and cook dinner and listen to the album. The truth is, it’s the time spent together, not the activity, that’s important.
  • In the end be honest. When asked to join an event, vacation or expensive outing, say you’re actively trying to save money and that you are unable to attend. It’s worse to commit and then not end up having the money to participate.

Sharing the Cost of a Purchase  

  • When someone asks “How much did that cost?” And you’re not comfortable saying, use humor or something vague like ‘A lot more than I wish it had been.’ Remember, often times these individuals are not being nosey, but may for instance be in the market for a house and are curious what you recently paid for your home.
  • If you do decide to divulge the information, do so in a more educational manner by sharing how you were able to make the large purchase – years that you saved, amount of down payment, mortgage options, etc.

American Consumer Credit Counseling’s certified and experienced counselors offer various financial education, counseling and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability.

ACCC’s certified and experienced counselors offer a variety of financial education, counseling and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability. These financial education programs help consumers to better understand and manage their finances. ACCC’s holiday spending poll is the first in a series of planned monthly polls related to budgeting and spending habits, intended to help consumers recognize their budgeting needs. ACCC plans to post these polls and the results on their website and Facebook page.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  • For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
  • For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
  • For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  • For more information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x1980
  • Or visit us online at

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health through education, counseling, and debt management. ACCC provides individuals with practical solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC works with consumers to help them with the best plan of action to reduce their debt and regain financial stabilityACCC is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A+ rating. It is also a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources log on to or visit