How to Handle Nosy Money Questions

Money makes everything more complicated, especially when other people are a little too interested in your finances.

Richie Frieman,
April 19, 2013


In the 1987 movie Wall Street Gordon Gekko told us greed is good.  As much as we’d all like to have enough money to retire at a young age, money in general makes everything complicated. As well, what makes money even more uncomfortable is when someone asks you about your money. It doesn’t matter if you are a millionaire or just getting by, it’s highly improper for someone to ask about your financial situation.  Yet, that doesn’t stop some people from blithely asking asinine questions like, “How much money do you make?” or, “How much did that cost?” And as much as you would like to ignore these impolite questions, they’re hard to avoid.  But there is one way to will end this uncomfortable discussion for good.  

I call it the “Nod and Smile Approach.”

If you are in a situation where someone asks you about your financial situation, understand that you are now in control. Unless it’s an accountant or a loan officer, there is no law that says you have to tell some Joe Schmo or annoying relative at a dinner party how much money you have or make. With that, the “Nod and Smile Approach” is the single most devastating technique used to change the subject when faced with such a question.  Nothing will drive them crazier than not being able to find out the dollar amount and that’s what they deserve.

When they ask, don’t fumble or get uneasy. Don’t look down or cough nervously. Stand firm, nod, and smile. Then change the subject to something totally innocuous like, “Oh look, they’ve brought out the shrimp,” or “Hey, there’s Dave!” If you really want to throw it back at them, try something like, “How about you tell me first, then I’ll tell you?” Now if they actually fall for this, and start to respond, make sure to laugh and stop them with something like, “I was kidding! Who actually asks someone this question?” 

Keep the smile wide, nod, and quickly move on to something else.  

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As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

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