Embarrassing money issues can rear their ugly heads at any time, putting any of us in situations that can be downright cringe-worthy.
But unlike embarrassing money issues that women have, the red-faced financial moments that men experience can often feel more personal.
After all, men frequently have their self-esteem, identity or feelings of self-worth wrapped up in financial matters – all of which makes dealing with awkward money incidents particularly unsettling.
If you’re a single guy running your own finances or a married man responsible for maintaining a household budget, you need to be well prepared for some common money calamities that could threaten your wallet – as well as your ego.Knowing how to handle an awkward money situation can make it easier to get through an otherwise difficult dilemma and just move on.
Here are some embarrassing money issues men often face and the solutions for overcoming them:
Problem: You can’t afford the engagement ring
You’re ready to pop the question – or maybe your girlfriend is ready and has been dropping heavy hints by loudly singing Beyonce’s “Put a Ring on It” on a daily basis – but you don’t have anywhere near the two months’ salary that wedding “experts” say you should spend to buy your beautiful bride-to-be a flashy engagement ring.
And in case you’re wondering, the average cost of a diamond engagement ring in 2010 was just over $5,390. If that’s too rich for your budget, fortunately, there are ways you can tie the knot without breaking the bank.
Solution: If you really do want to get married, you basically have three options when it comes to getting a ring:
First, you could buy a modest, inexpensively priced ring that’s within your budget – but only if you’re sure your girlfriend would be fine with that. To gauge her thoughts on this approach, be direct in explaining to your girlfriend that while your love for her is beyond measure, your bank account happens to be finite. Therefore, you can’t currently afford a big, expensive ring.
She may be OK with accepting a less pricey ring, or even a simple gold band. If so, problem solved.
A second option – if she really has her heart set on a fancy, blingy engagement ring that she can show off to her girlfriends – is to figure out how long it will take you to save and buy a ring of her desired size and caliber. Then tell her how long it will take and stick to your word.
But be prepared, if you say you need to save for a year, that may seem somewhat long to many women; two years will seem like an eternity. Some women might even suggest you go into debt and just use a credit card to buy a ring. But this is a bad move, because it will start you off in debt in your marriage. And that’s not a good thing.
Finally, if a parent, grandparent or another relative has a special ring that’s been in the family, you might inquire about obtaining it and surprising your girlfriend with a family heirloom that holds special significance. Many women would be absolutely thrilled to get a family ring and could care less that it didn’t come from a store.
Any of these scenarios may or may not be ideal solutions to the engagement/wedding ring dilemma. But they at least offer you viable options to get by this difficult financial issue with a lot of class and a lot less stress.
Problem: Your credit card gets declined at a business meeting
You’re taking clients out to dinner and insist on footing the bill. Unfortunately, your credit card is declined and the server brings the check back to request an alternative method of payment.
Solution: Avoid looking too embarrassed in front of your clients and simply provide another form of payment. Don’t argue that you do have credit available on that particular card or that there must be some mistake. Your protests may make an already-awkward situation worse.
Just quickly review the bill again, take back your card and hand a new credit card or cash to your server. You can always contest the issue over the phone later with your credit card company. But that’s best done when clients, vendors or co-workers are nowhere in sight.
Problem: Your significant other sees a collections letter
So you missed a few payments on your credit card or auto loan, or perhaps you racked up big medical bills that went to collections. While you’re stressing about how this will affect your credit reports, a few letters get sent to your home and your live-in girlfriend, wife or partner happens to come across them.
Solution: It’s time to face the issue and have a frank conversation about the matter. (For couples, I recommend the Economic CPR method as a way to communicate about money.)
While it may be tempting to hide the fact that you have some unresolved financial issues, a better strategy is to simply state what happened and explain how you’re handling the matter. Don’t get defensive about the subject, accuse your significant other of “snooping” or brush off her questions with a curt “It’s nothing” or “It’s none of your business.” That will only cause your economic problems to spill over and become relationship problems, too.
Although credit and collection problems can make you feel embarrassed or angry, you really are better off talking about the issues. Your mate may even be able to help you create a better budget and effectively work through your financial setback. Lynnette’s article originally appeared on DailyFinance.