Friends & Money

When a friend asks me if I can do their taxes, I smile and nod enthusiastically.
“No problem” I say. But I’m cringing inside.

Sure, I love the new business and hope they refer me to others. But, it’s also difficult knowing how much they make, save and spend their money. You can tell a lot about a persons finances when doing their return. There’s no where to hide.

An acquaintance and his spouse came to me last year asking to do their personal returns. When the husband sent me their documents, there were just W2’s. Knowing he made a decent living, I asked the standard followup questions.

“Do you have any interest or dividend income?” His reply: “No, I don’t think so.” You don’t think so?!

“Do you have a savings account that generates interest?” Another firm No.

“Any brokerage accounts?” Negative.

“Did you contribute to your daughters 529 plan?” We haven’t opened one.

Since I knew this person, I point blank asked “As your friend and now accountant, I have to ask…do you have a boatload of money sitting in a checking account not accruing interest?” I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.

His reply: I wish!

<Face palm to forehead.>

Oh how I wanted to scream, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE GET YOUR FINANCIAL LIFE IN ORDER!!!” But I can’t. It’s really not my business – even though they opened me up to it.

When others look at him and make comments to me about how well he and his wife must be doing, I nod and agree. I see all the facebook posts from exotic vacations, their newly build (large) home and the plethora of toys for their daughter. Yes, they do make good money, I think to myself. But they do an even better job spending it.

This gives way to another painful occurrence – when others find out you do a mutual friends taxes. They suddenly expect me to spill the dirt – and I never will – so don’t waste your breath in asking.

I suppose it’s the nature of the beast. Everyone is curious about what their friends make but no one dares to ask. Do you think an open dialogue about money  with your your closest friends? Personally, I don’t and I’m not sure I want to.

Comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts.



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