Answers to your awkward money questions

What do you do about a spouse who won't help with the finances or a pal who can't repay a loan? You listen to great advice from Money's readers and our panel of experts.

Family member is a cheapskate
Family member is a cheapskate
Question: What can you do about a family member who never pays his or her fair share when you eat out together or go on vacation? -- L.P., Indio, Calif.

Advice from Money readers:

Before going out, I would ask: "How do you think we should split the bill for dinner? Divide it equally or request separate checks?" If they have input into the decision, they are more apt to dig deep. -- Drew Ludwick, via e-mail

Say, "Is it my treat again?" -- Maia Chakerian, Los Gatos, Calif.

Are we talking $5 for a dinner or $200 on a cabin rental? Graciously overlook small amounts (ahhhh, family!). Establish a fair method of calculating "share" for large expenses -- upfront. -- Steve Lord, Raleigh, N.C.

There's nothing you can do. I just request separate checks at restaurants and arrange for separate accommodations on vacations. -- Patricia Nance, Dumfries, Va.

Is it because they can't afford it? If so, come up with less expensive ideas, such as a barbecue at home or potluck. -- Jerri Owens, via Facebook

The expert take: Be reasonable but firm. You could start by saying, "We're happy that you're coming, but we need you to contribute financially like everybody else. Is there some reason you can't?" Or say, "I've noticed that you haven't paid for anything, and I don't want this to bother me but I'm finding that it really does, and I need to talk to you about it."

Then be quiet and don't say anything -- wait for a response. You disarm the person by letting him or her feel discomfort. And you've taken the high road by talking reasonably and without sarcasm. That makes your relative less likely to fire back. -- Maggie Baker, psychologist and author of "Crazy About Money"


By Ismat Sarah Mangla @Money - Last updated July 03 2012: 12:41 PM ET
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