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20-40-60 Etiquette---How do I get my money?




By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace


QUESTION: My husband’s colleague and I jointly agreed to buy a gift card for his office manager’s birthday.

I was the one who made the actual purchase which was a little above my means given I paid for both portions.

I have asked for repayment but it is not forthcoming.

How do I navigate this situation without sounding pesky?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: If you want your money, you are going to have to be pesky.

Give it a week before you start being pesky.

Obviously, you can be nice about it, but bugging people gets you the money!

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think you’re going to have to ask again, even though it’s awkward. Is the colleague promising to pay but keeps forgetting? Then a reminder would be welcome, perhaps by email with the details spelled out.

You can even show the receipt if you have it. If the colleague avoids the question and you suspect he or she deliberately isn’t paying, then I would avoid such a situation in the future with this person.

Can you get your husband involved? Sometimes, though, the delay is more a matter of bill-pay timing or forgetfulness on the other person’s side, although it’s justifiably frustrating and costly to you.

Keep trying for now.

HELEN’S ANSWER: Since you have already asked for repayment, you might try sending the bill to your husband’s colleague.

Show the math about splitting it and then tell him exactly how much he owes for the gift.

Give your name and address and who to make the check payable to. Enclose an addressed, stamped envelope.

If that does not work, politely do not do any kind of business with him again.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, The Oklahoman night news director and University of Central Oklahoma Media Ethics Chair:

How well do you know your husband’s colleague? Because you refer to this person in this way, I assume you don’t have a close relationship with him or her.

If this is true, ask for the money one more time, then, cut your losses and repeat after me — “I will not engage in expensive transactions with people I don’t know very well.”

Also, continued asking might make things uncomfortable for your husband at work.

If the lack of repayment is causing you hardship, can your husband step up and give you the money?

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›