I can't afford to travel to every wedding I'm invited to. How do I decide which ones to attend and which ones to reject? - Weddings on a budget, Auckland
According to American Express, the average cost to attend a wedding is $701, inclusive of travel, accommodation, a new frock, and a gift. Multiply that for, say, four weddings (and add on a little extra for inevitable other expenses) and you're looking at around $3000 for a wedding season.
Personally, I only attend the weddings of very close friends and family members with whom I have a great relationship. I don't do distant relatives, school friends I don't see anymore, or weddings my husband is invited to of people I've never met (he goes by himself). This is primarily because I don't enjoy weddings unless I truly love the people getting married.
This sounds a bit wedding-grinch-like, I know, but it's a good place to start when you're trying to figure out which invites to pull the plug on. Rank your four invites in terms of how close you are to those getting married, and then do a preliminary budget for each (do remember you can probably get away with one outfit for the lot, unless the guest lists are going to be too similar).
Take that combined budget, look at your own finances, and see how many of the weddings you can afford to attend. Number four on your priority list obviously drops off first, then number three and so on.
For the weddings you can't attend (but would otherwise if money were no object), send a small gift and a note saying sorry you're unable to be there. It'll send a message that you care and are genuinely happy for the betrothed couple.
Am I asking too much of people who call me from their cars when I ask them to pull over so we can talk? They always say they're safe to talk, but generally I just ask them to call me back when they have stopped. Is this okay or am I just a grumpy person? - Mobile Monitor, Auckland
You're completely in the right to ask people to either pull over or call you back.
Talking on your phone while driving is illegal, for one thing. And even where it's legal (i.e. a Bluetooth handsfree system is being used), taking a call whilst driving is still a distraction, and distractions on roads kill people.
You can never have a proper conversation with somebody when they're behind the wheel, either. You're dealing with traffic noise, a poor attention span on their part, and frequent "can you hear me?" difficulties when mobile black spots and other cell tower reception problems are encountered at 50 (or 100) kilometres an hour.
When you call someone (or they call you) and you suspect they're driving, politely tell them you'll call back. Do this rather than asking them to call you, which will usually elicit the "I'm fine, it's safe" response that you don't agree with. By proactively hanging up the phone yourself, you don't give them that option to talk and put themselves and others at risk.
It might seem a little abrupt, so apologise when you do phone them back. You don't have to go into too much detail, nor do you want to lecture them. Simply say you don't want to put people in danger by talking while driving, then quickly move to the topic you want to discuss. By making that "danger" phrase about you, it doesn't seem like you're criticising their habits.
Whenever a shop says "cash only" I always think they must be doing business under the table. Should I do anything about it? - Not Carryin' Cash, Hastings.
You have no ethical responsibly to police the financial accounting of others. It's not your job to worry about whether somebody is doing work under the table or not.
Also, your assumptions could be wrong. There are many reasons a shop might not have an EFTPOS machine - maybe there's a cash machine around the corner and the owner didn't think it was necessary to invest in their own machine, maybe their machine isn't working, maybe the shop has newly opened and they haven't sorted it out yet... you get the idea.
Also remember that EFTPOS has only been around for 20-odd years and there's a chance a store's proprietor is just really, really old school and doesn't want to keep up with technology. There's actually something quite charming about that, especially if it's an antiques dealer or a Ma-and-Pa fruit and vege store.
Don't assume the worst of people, and don't assume it's your business anyway. If somebody says "cash only" you have the right to refuse the sale and walk out empty handed if you really feel that strongly about it, or you could ask for their bank account details and do a money transfer on your mobile phone right in front of them.