Asking or telling people how much something costs is one of the more uncomfortable faux pas. When people come from different cultural backgrounds, opinions may differ, but ultimately it is a topic that should be considered off-limits. For some of you this may be obvious, while others may not be so sure. Here is a short breakdown, and few simple rules to follow. Sit up straight fellow Americans, I’m looking at you.
Disclaimer: Although these rules are numbered… they are equally important and should all be considered rule number one.
1. The only people you should generally be discussing money with is your family, employer, and financial advisor.
2. Never ask anyone the price they paid for something, or inversely reveal how much you paid for something. It’s really not anyone’s business.
For example, asking a coworker how much her dress costs. You might see this as a harmless question. I however see it as harassment in the work place. Consider saying instead, “That’s a beautiful dress. Who is it by?”
If this is not descriptive enough rule number 3 might provide a better visual.
3. Always assume the other person would be embarrassed to tell you what they paid for their, plane ticket, haircut, handbag, or facial filler.
When you take this approach, you are not only being your most appropriate self, but you save the other person potential embarrassment. Because really, if you don’t already know how much a Prada backpack costs, you can survive a little longer without this knowledge. Google it later.
If you already know how much it was and are getting your satisfaction out of hearing them say it… You have an emotional problem! Congratulations!
And if you are getting your satisfaction out of telling them how much or little you paid for it, you either have an emotional problem or someone in this scenario went to a sample sale.
4. You don’t have to answer when someone asks you directly how much something costs.
As uncomfortable as it is, or as it should be, to be confronted with such questions, deflecting them can be just as awkward. It can be particularly uncomfortable if they ask directly or comment that something must have been very expensive. However, just because they dangle the carrot, doesn’t mean you are obligated to bite.
Are there any exceptions to these rules? Well, yes of course, circumstance is everything. The aforementioned sample sale is one example. If you just bought an amazing dress from the Alice and Olivia sample sale, you might be tempted to tell a close friend how much you got it for. Which you totally should, if she is indeed a close friend. What you should not do is tell everyone who compliments you on that dress when you wear it, that you got it from the sample sale, and that is was $175. We all love a good deal, but contain the excitement.
5. Respond in a way that isn’t exactly rude… but firmly establishes that you don’t want to/will not be telling them such information.
This can be a little bit tricky to navigate, and is a skill that can really only come with practice. Chances are the other person genuinely feels that what they have asked you is not offensive, but this doesn’t mean they get a free pass.
Here I have taken the liberty of closing with a few examples one might encounter, with answers that should put an end to the topic of money.
- That’s a beautiful dress, how much was it?
A1. Thank you, it’s Calvin Klein.
A2. Thank you, I don’t remember actually.
- You went to (Insert Fabulous Location Here)? Wasn’t it very expensive?
A1. I had a lovely time, it was nice to get out of the city.
A2. We ate at the most charming Michelin star restaurant while we were there…(Proceed with story)
A3. (Smile politely….Hold eye contact… Keep smiling…)
- How much was your plane ticket?
A1. I don’t recall.
A2. Oh, are you planning a trip to Malta as well?
A3. Bermuda is wonderful this time of year.
- How much is your rent in…New York, London?
A1. I live in Chelsea, it’s a great area.
A2. I have the most amazing cafe just around the corner from my apartment! Seriously obsessed.
However, the ultimate response, is the one that takes the most courage, and is applicable to all questions involving money.
Answer: I think its rude to talk about money.
Because I’m Just Not That Way,