Introducing “Penny For Your Thoughts” – A New Money Crashers Advice Column

Pen and pad of paperOur relationship with money often involves our relationships with friends, coworkers, relatives, and romantic partners. When the two worlds collide, it can lead to some stressful and difficult situations!

Our new advice column, “Penny For Your Thoughts,” answers your questions about money and relationships. We’ll respond to specific letters we receive from the readers with some helpful advice and also ask you for your personal take on each letter that we analyze. This column will also foster a forum where you can respond to questions or situations that we present.

To start things off, do your friends ask you for loans? Is your cousin a terrible tipper? Email any of your questions to Penny [at] moneycrashers [dot] com or write a comment here.

We are not financial advisors and cannot provide professional, financial advice, but we will do our best to answer your questions.

(photo credit: Kristian D.)

  • anonymous advice-seeker


    So glad to find your forum – I have a question about money and relationships!

    My family goes all out for Christmas – spending into the realm of ridiculousness. Sometimes it seems to be quantity, not quality, and it almost is too overwhelming for the kids!

    I provide the sole income for my household, and live very frugally (sometimes to a fault), especially at Christmas. My son is 18 months old, and within my limited budget, I chose not to buy a ton of clothes and toys and books which we don’t need. I bought a couple of small, meaningful gifts, and felt that our Christmas at home was just right.

    My family, on the other hand, have been outright intrusive with their questions about the material part of our celebration – “What did he get?” “Was he excited for all his gifts?” “Where are you going to put everything?” After tactfully avoiding the direct questions for as long as possible, I finally told them my presentation of Christmas gifts and the mentality behind it. They were absolutely horrified – even going so far as to call me “cheap” and “inconsiderate”!

    I know that their reactions are way out of line and have no basis in responsible reality, but what’s the best way to get them to move on? Ideally, I’d like them to adopt the same sensibilities about holiday gift giving as the ones that have worked for me…but am not sure where to go from here.


  • Jen D.

    Topic: How Best to Approach Friends about starting a coupon train. I tried to search online for a circle of people who trade coupons in the mail. The premise is that one envelope of coupons gets mailed successively to a list of people. You take what you want & add ones you have that you don’t need or want then mail it to the next person on the list. I read about this just as a brief mention in a magazine. But the sites are all more formal and you have to have had so many comments or coupons traded individually approved first before you can join a train. Plus it was hard to see what region of the country. I coudn’t find anything for my city. I always have a lot of coupons that I don’t need & would love to see passed on to someone who does. I’m debating asking some friends via facebook if they’re somewhat local if they would be interested in this. It’s hard to tell who uses coupons and who doesn’t. Direct email is also an option. I wish it was a craigslist category but it isn’t. Posting on a bulletin board at work also doesn’t quite seem appropriate. I’m just a little hesitant about how to bring it up or how to reach out to people – especially if they’re not close friends & the only relationship you really have with them is that you’re friends on Facebook – to find others who would want to do this. I’d love to hear thoughts or advice if anyone has done anything like this.

    • Penny

      Hi Jen, from my understanding of coupon trains, you actually don’t want to have members who live near one another because different areas of the country will get different coupons. So it is unlikely that there would be trains just for your city – most coupon trains try to get people in many different areas. And it does seem reasonable that established coupon groups would not want someone to join who hasn’t “proven” themselves first – after all, if they go AWOL with the coupons, everyone loses – so I would recommend that you take a look at what coupons you usually use and see if you can find a group that doesn’t have someone like you already.
      As far as Facebook goes, I would be surprised if there aren’t groups that you can join to meet up with others who would like to start one.

      Alternately, you can donate your unused coupons to military families, who can use coupons for generally up to 3 months after the expiration date. You can also simply purchase coupons you need at sites like for very low prices.

  • Anonymous

    My question is how to get grown kids to be more responsible. After loaning our son money to help him get out of a bad relationship, a wrecked vehicle, all kinds of things, he seems to put us on the back burner when it comes to paying us back. He always has a sob story of why he cannot pay us but his wife is on facebook talking about going out to eat, buying fancy phones, etc. I really believe he intends to pay us-he just always finds something else he wants to do with his money. We have quit loaning him money and do not intend to do so again until he pays what he owes but is there something else we can do to make him more responsible.