Your next-door neighbor's two-year-old broke your most expensive vase, and your neighbor hasn't offered to replace it. Your best friend expects you to shop at the boutique she just opened, though her very pricey clothes look terrible on you. And your sister says she needs $1,500 to send her child to creativity camp, but you think what your sister needs is a job. What do you do?
Such tricky and emotionally charged dilemmas involving money are ubiquitous. Yet few of us know how to handle them. In Isn't It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check? Jeanne Fleming and Leonard Schwarz - the authors of the enormously popular "Do the Right Thing" column in Money magazine and the blog of the same name on CNNMoney.com - dissect a host of thorny, sometimes comic, inevitably awkward, and frequently infuriating money-and-ethics problems that arise among friends, relatives and neighbors.
Here's just a sample of the situations they respond to:
Who gets Grandma's jewelry?
I lent money to my niece, and now my brother wants a loan.
My rich friend keeps encouraging me to do things I can't afford.
Our brother is stealing our inheritance.
Our freeloading friends are driving us crazy.
I just made a bundle of money, and I don't want my family to know.
Fleming and Schwarz also report on the results of two groundbreaking surveys designed to illuminate the money-and-ethics problems we confront every day. The surveys reveal, for example, just how many of us have a friend or relative who's a freeloader or a deadbeat; how common we believe it is for someone to lie, cheat, or pretend to be loving in order to be in someone else's will; and the percentage of men - compared with women - who say you should never marry someone who is deeply in debt, no matter how much you love them.
Isn't It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check? offers a fascinating tour of the secret life of other people's money disputes and delivers witty, down-to-earth money advice for dealing with all the maddening problems any one of us could confront at any time.
"Fleming and Schwarz cover an impressive range of money problems we'd all like to think we can rise above but which can divide whole families, including our own...The authors begin the book by asking provocatively: "Which would you rather have: a relative ask you for a large loan, or a bad case of the flu?" Those honest enough to answer "flu" might consider reading this book out loud on a family vacation and discussing its various insights." -- Barron's
"[I]t is a great coffee-table volume. Leave it out, and it will surely stir up some interesting discussions and debates...Using a question-and-answer format, Fleming and Schwarz have produced a handbook to help diffuse uncomfortable and potentially hostile situations that come when you mix money and personal relationships...The authors cover a lot of ground, from borrowers and lenders behaving badly, to handling gifts that come with strings attached, to getting through wedding-bill blues. " -- The Washington Post