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.
Want to know if your parents are financially obligated to pony up for your dream wedding or if your cousin is owed your recently deceased mother s painting though there is no mention of it in her will? Chances are someone has already asked and received an answer on how to deal with it from Money magazine and CNNMoney Web site contributors Fleming and Schwarz. They cover nearly every point and question of financial etiquette and fiscal ethics in this advice collection. Breaking the monotony of page after page of questions and answers are statistical results from a Money Magazine poll regarding financial attitudes toward family and friends, along with results from a survey the authors commissioned separately. General rules of thumb are also offered on such topics as evaluating loan requests and what exactly should be included when putting private loan agreements into writing. While a highly useful book to have as a reference, receiving it as a gift could represent a not so subtle hint that a change in behavior is needed.