In this week's Ask A Cartoonist post, guest bloggers and “Money Manners” columnists, Jeanne Fleming and Leonard Schwarz, answer several tricky questions submitted by King Features cartoonists and comic characters on dilemmas that involve money and emotions.
Q: Cartoonists receive a lot of requests to donate artwork to charities and silent auction fundraisers. Cartoonists often want to help these worthy causes, but work deadlines, use of personal supplies, cost of time and the inability to include these donations as claims on their own taxes add to the increasing pressure to donate their artwork. What is the polite way for cartoonists to respond to charity auction and artwork donation requests? — Anonymous
A: Whether you’re being asked to contribute something personal, like your artwork, or something impersonal, like your money, the polite way to say “no” to a request for a charitable donation is the same: Be pleasant, but be direct—and, of course, express your good wishes. For example, you might say: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out. But good luck to you.” What you shouldn’t do is explain why you feel you can’t make the donation. That only encourages the person soliciting your contribution to respond to your objections and to try to change your mind. So forget about explaining the position you’re in and trying to make the solicitor understand you. Just say “no,” “good luck,” and “good bye.”
Q: Last autumn one of my coworkers let me stay in her house for two months while my place was being repaired after a water heater disaster. She charged me a very low rent, too low, in my opinion. I didn’t say anything at the time, but now I feel guilty. Would it be awkward to offer her additional money almost a year later? — from Dethany of Bill Holbrook’s On the Fastrack
A: It may be awkward for you, Dethany, but it won’t be for your friend. Plus, if you’ve been thinking you didn’t pay her enough, she may well be thinking the same thing. But even if she isn’t, she will surely appreciate your offer. While she may choose to say no, you should definitely give her a chance to say yes.
Q: If you have a hobby such as yoga that you’re very knowledgeable about, how do you decide whether to turn it into a part-time job or just continue to enjoy it with your friends recreationally? — from Isabella Bannerman, Six Chix
A: Are you worried your friends will have trouble transitioning from yoga buddies into paying customers? Well don’t. A lot of small businesses start just this way, and chances are good that some of your friends will be interested in your yoga classes. Whether they are or aren’t, it’s not a breach of the rules of friendship to hang out your shingle and try to sell services to your pals. Just be careful not to twist any arms or otherwise make your friends feel you’ll be disappointed in them if they fail to sign up. And be sure to get some paying customers who are not your friends. You are, after all, starting a business and not simply charging your friends for access to your knowledge, right?
Q: How do you avoid financial etiquette pitfalls when you’re living in a foreign country (in my case, Spain), but don’t speak the language very well yet? — from Alex Hallatt, Arctic Circle
A: Even if your Español isn’t very good, there’s nothing wrong with getting out a dictionary and asking the folks you first get to know how people there customarily handle the circumstances that concern you: what to tip for services, say, or how checks are customarily divided when two couples go out. As long as you display a nice smile and an appreciative attitude, you won’t give offense. Feel you’re not ready for that level of conversation? Then you’ll have to suspend the total immersion experience while you find some ex-patriots to answer your questions.
Q: For my grandmother’s 90th birthday, my family has decided to pitch in to help fund an operation she needs. However, when I was at Granny’s retirement home on Sunday, I noticed that the recreation room’s Monopoly game was missing some of its money. Granny used to love that game, back when she could think more coherently. So my question is, would it be appropriate for me to give Granny money for her Monopoly board? I’d have to take it from my own, deluxe version of the game, but I would be willing to make that sacrifice. — from Monica of Rina Piccolo’s Tina’s Groove
A: Focus, Monica, focus. Giving Granny a gift she’s no longer able to appreciate will not improve her life. So forget about supplementing the Monopoly money in the retirement home rec room and instead take some real greenbacks out of your wallet and add it to Granny’s health fund.
We hope you enjoyed this special edition of Ask A Cartoonist!
In addition to writing their weekly “Money Manners” column, Jeanne and Leonard are authors of the book, “Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check?” Users can read more about their book here.