Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

I work in an office with a pleasant but inquisitive woman. Whenever I wear anything new or mention anything from a vacation to a home repair, she asks how much I paid. I’m not secretive, but I don’t care to give her this information, particularly since every time I tell her, she weighs in with her opinion about whether or not I got a good deal.

How do I handle her without being rude?

…Reticent Rita

Dear Rita,

Your coworker doesn’t know when it’s okay to ask about prices and when it isn’t. The rule of thumb is that it’s fine to casually bring up the cost of ordinary things that anyone in the conversation could easily afford — for example, movie tickets, lunch or an Uber ride.

Beyond those trivial purchases, money discussions need to be initiated with care.

Here are two options for handling your curious coworker. The one you feel most comfortable with is the one that will work best for you. The next time she asks what you paid for something, respond either:

“You seem pretty worried about money. Why is that?”


“How much do you think it should have cost?” — Whatever amount she tells you, say, “You’re exactly right. That’s how much it cost.”

Whatever you do, don’t take her behavior personally. Nosy people tend to be equal opportunity offenders.

Here’s to playing it close to the vest.


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