I picked up this book because of the title and the cartoon on the cover. Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check is written by a couple Jeanne Fleming and Leonard Schwarz who answer money and ethics questions in their column Do The Right Thing in Money Magazine and on CNNMoney.com.
This little book is all about the messy money dealings between family members and friends: lending and borrowing, gifts, inheritance, sharing expenses, disparity in income and spending priorities, keeping and breaking promises, and so on.
It takes a Q&A format. Every chapter is about one particular topic, with maybe 10 questions and answers in “Dear Abby” style. The answers are both serious and with a touch of humor. I enjoyed them and I learned a lot about human nature.
Money can become tricky when you are dealing with family and friendship. I’ve heard some people say “never mix money with family or friends.” After reading all the stories in this book, I can see why. Some people have different moral standards than we’d like. When these people happen to be in the family, they cause distress. Avoiding the problem preemptively is certainly one way to deal with it.
On the other hand, limiting financial dealings strictly to arm-length commercial transactions causes a lot of inefficiency.
If one family member has money sitting in a bank account earning practically nothing while another family member borrows from a credit card, it’s not efficient for the two of them collectively to have the bank earn the spread in the middle.
If two brothers have separate cell phone service with the same provider, they can get a family plan and alternate in paying the bills.
If two neighbors need Internet service, one of them can place a router in the neighbor’s home and share the same pipe. With the right wireless antenna, both can have satisfactory service.
You get the picture. It’ll be great if extended family members, friends, and neighbors can pool their resources and lower the cost for all involved, especially in difficult times. The problem is they don’t trust each other. If only people keep their promises, we will have much fewer problems in this world.
Take a look at this small book: Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check by Jeanne Fleming and Leonard Schwarz. It’s entertaining and educational. You can certainly get a taste of it from the authors’ column Do The Right Thing on CNNMoney.com.