Ask the Readers: How Do You Handle Rude Questions About Money?

By Ashley Jacobs on 26 January 2016 69 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to BRB, Suz_Glo, and Kristin for winning this week's contest!

It's more acceptable these days to discuss personal finances with relatives, friends, and even co-workers — but like with any conversation, tone and context matters. You may feel comfortable answering your mom when she asks how much debt you have as you're talking about loans, but not so much when a friend of a friend asks the same question at a party.

How do you handle rude questions about money? What happened the last time you had to deflect a money question that you didn't want to answer? Are there any money topics in general that you don't like to discuss?

Tell us how you handle rude questions about money and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
Elena

I don't give a direct answer to money questions. I usually say that I am not sure

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Julie Wood

I thought this was rude. A neighbor is a financial planner, but she lives down the street and I do not know her, but one day she thought it was okay to come to my house and ask me personal questions about my finances when I was outside doing yard work. I kept telling her that I do not need her services and it was awful! I told her now thanks, but I felt trapped because I live by her and did not want to offend her!

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Mami2jcn

I haven't been asked rude questions about money. Politics & religion are topics that I find more sensitive.

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Revanche

The last time I was interviewing someone, she started prying into our money affairs: How much was your house? How much is your rent? How much are your utilities?

Since it wasn't someone I was at all familiar with, though you wouldn't know it from how much she thought it was ok to pry!, I deflected with fake ignorance. "Oh I don't know, my husband handles that stuff." I'd probably never do that with someone I actually knew (because anyone who knows me knows that I handle all the money) but it worked with this nosy Parker!

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Gina

I simply tell people it's none of their business and move on to another topic of conversation.

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Ernest S.

I try not to take it personally. I feel like discussing money is like fitness -- everyone has an opinion on what works best and how you should be doing things.

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Elle

If a money question makes me uncomfortable I will answer vaguely and evasive and feign uncertainty.

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Renee

I have not had to field any rude questions about money, but I generally do not feel uncomfortable talking about money with friends or colleagues and answer most questions as long as I feel that they are asked from a place of curiosity and not judgement.

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Kat Skull

I like to be vocal about it being none of their business. If I want to talk about money, then I would offer up the suggestion of the topic.

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Betty

With a little laugh, I tell people I don't have enough money to talk about. We have a 457 plan at work available, and co-workers seem to think it's ok to talk numbers! I don't join in.

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MELISSA HANSSON

I don't think this has happened to me, so maybe I'm just not sensitive to it. But if someone said something offensive to me, unintentionally, I would shrug it off. And if it was intentional, I have no problem teaching some manners. :-)

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Zachary

I usually like to discuss personal finance topics in general but like to stray from specific details about those actual numbers existing in my life. I often feel many people are apt to compare their situations to one another and being unnecessarily specific as to your own situation might invite others to feel like you are in an overall "better" situation whereby they might think you're bragging or otherwise feel self-conscious themselves, or, in the opposite scenario, you might come off as as a "ne'er-do-well" in the eyes of the other person. I think most people respond well when you laugh and pleasantly answer that you keep your financial situation "close to the vest". Of course, you should be willing to confirm you're neither the richest nor poorest person on the planet, and that you're just another "in-betweener".

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Rebecca Ross

I don't have any problems talking about our money or debt. I guess it just doesn't bother me. We don't have a lot of money and tons of school debt.

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Emily S.

Ignore and deflect!

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Susan Smith

I haven't been asked any rude questions about money.

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Mary W

I do not recall being offended by a financial question. I am comfortable discussing any question about money. To me, money is just a tool and does not have emotional connotations. Usually. Rather than dodge or avoid answering a question, I give a simple, short, honest answer.

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Natalie

I tell them that it is none of their business. One lady asked me how much I made and I told her "enough to survive comfortably." Truly it was none of her business.

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Jeff

I don't have a problem talking about money. Money discussions shouldn't be a taboo topic.

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Simone H

I deflect the question I think it's rude to talk about money

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Michelle D

I just tell people "I don't know" or "I'm not sure"

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Susan P.

If I think the questions are rude, I usually don't answer, especially if it is someone being nosy.

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Guest

I usually try to divert the question and not answer it.

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Miss kim

I just change the subject.

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Emily

It depends on the question. I'm pretty open about a lot of financial things--how much I make, what paid for my house, what my wedding cost. I think to think if I really thought something was rude and I didn't want to answer it I would just say so. I'm a Scorpio.

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TJ

Among my family members, it is common to discuss finances. Because I travel alot for work, my family and friends think I am bringing in the money!! When they ask me questions about salary, I simply deflect with that "im doing okay, I have enough money to pay my bills and to live comfortably after.

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Olivia

I haven't been asked rude questions about money, but have had people make untrue statements about how poorly they think we handle our finances. It's such a shock, I don't know how to respond. It's like answering the question, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

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Marlene McGill

My "go to" answer is that I never discuss money with anyone but my spouse.

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Guest

I haven't been really asked those types of questions yet, since I am young. So generally most questions I'm fine with answering. If I don't want to answer, I'll just say I don't want to answer that

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Guest

No matter the subject if I feel it is too personal I don't answer them and then ask them why they are asking me the question. Depending on the answer they give me dictates how I continue. Usually after they respond I just tell them that I never discuss those issues. The best part is that they don't ever come around again asking what I consider inproper questions.

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Chris

I put on my astonished look and ask "What charm school did you attend?"

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AN G

When I am asked about money questions that I feel uncomfortable in answering. I change the subject. Normally they get the hint.

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DM

It depends, if the question is coming from my parents, I tell them I would rather not get into an argument at the moment. If the question is from anyone else I ask to clarify and answer as honestly as possible. Most people my age are just trying to feel out how other people handle their money and what the best way to go about financial stuff is. The intention is not really to be rude.

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Kristin Goodson

I don't answer finance questions if it's inappropriate. I simply just say "I'd rather not discuss this at the moment."

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Monique

I don't get a lot of money questions, and even fewer rude ones, fortunately. I'm pretty honest with people I know well. However, if people I don't know well ask me a rude money question, I try to find a way to sidestep it or sometimes I'll just lie and tell them what I think they want to hear.

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Donna Sako

Handle it like a politician. Answer a question they did not ask with one you want them to hear.

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Stacie

I try to deflect. But if that person is insistent I just say That's Private...and leave it at that.

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linda

I haven't really been asked questions like this from anyone but close family and if uncomfortable I usually just act like I am not sure and need to check with my husband.

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Guest

I just say that I don't discuss that topic publicly; just with immediate family and my accountant.

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Kelli

I'm not often asked rude questions about money. I guess I've been asked how much I paid for something a couple times, and I just answer honestly.

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Sarah S.

I just give a vague answer.

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April C

I tell them it's none of their business or I change the subject.

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KL

Usually whenever somebody asks me a question that I don't want to answer (money related or not) I ask them "Why do you want to know?". It is very effective.

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Donna D

Ignore it or just say don't know.

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Kristin

I don't. I pretend I didn't hear and then change the subject. But rarely does anyone besides my family ask me about money.

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Bill

My answer really depends on who asks the question, and what is the question. I do not discuss with anyone how much I paid for something. If someone asks how much I'm saving for retirement, I give them percentages not dollar amounts. I will answer how much I set aside in regular savings and emergency funds but again I do not give the total in the account. I may say I have X amount transferred on the first and fifteenth from my checking account to savings.

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Meg

I can't think of anything rude I have been asked...I guess I am a naturally curious person, so I'm probably interested in the conversation and would turn the question around on them.

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Hsien

i've never really gotten any rude questions about money

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Lynda

i don't answer it

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Raina

I can't recall being asked such money questions, but my go-to would probably be "don't worry about it", which is my way of letting someone know I have no intention of answering his or her question.

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Laura J

If I feel a question about money and finances is rude, I usually dodge the question and just change the subject. If I cant dodge it...I will just give a general answer that does not disclose anything at all.

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Erin

Luckily I've never been in this situation before.

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MichaelK.

I tell them to mind their own business or that I don't really feel like answering.

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GeCe

I play dumb and respond that someone else (husband, son, financial advisor) handles all the finances, and I only swipe a credit card.

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Liz

I don't think I'm usually asked rude questions, but if I was I would just deflect them.

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Cassidy

I just answer vaguely

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Jenny D

My husband and I won't even talk with our parents about our finances. One time my father-in-law asked how much we had left on our mortgage, telling us that it should be paid off by a certain age, but we just didn't respond to him.

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Rich

I usually just ignore the question.

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Suz_Glo

I think people vary widely on the appropriateness of talking about money. I was taught it is rude to ask or talk about such a private topic but people these days seem to feel it's okay to ask. So, since I don't like to talk about it that's what I say -- "I don't like talking about personal finance issues like this. Sorry. " Repeat as necessary. It's always worked to shut it down!

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Julie Lundstrom

I usually refuse to answer the question. Money is something that I keep to myself.

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BRB

I usually just side-step the question or give a very general answer. Especially if it is something very personal and none of their business!

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C Hui

I just tell whoever asked the question that I don't feel comfortable answering.

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CF

I find a way to not answer.

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Liisa R

I either smile and don't say anything, or make a brief explanation and tell them they are free to think differently. :)

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Stephanie

I say that I don't know or changed the subject to skmething else I would rather talk about.

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Carmen N

I don't think I've ever faced that situation but I wouldn't be afraid to tell them it was none of their business.

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Guest

I haven't really been offended by anyone's comments or questions about money

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Guest

I just tell the bums and panhandlers that I'm currently fresh out.

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Ashley

I change the subject and just ignore whatever they asked me. It usually works unless they are really nosy and rude, then I just tell them straight out I don't like to discuss money issues.

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Happy Love

"I'm not really comfortable talking about that."

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J. Pario

[Pause.] "That's a really personal question." [Longer pause. Awkward silence.]

That usually works!

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Thomas Murphy

I have never had any rude questions about money.