Paying for Advice
Problem: An acquaintance is an interior designer―or an accountant, an attorney, or another type of professional―and you want her expert opinion. Should you pay her?
Solution: You should. "Many people seem to think their friends and acquaintances go into particular professions because, all money aside, they just love their work," says Nancy Barsotti, an interior designer in New York City and Pittsburgh. "They assume that justifies asking for free help." It doesn't. Definitely plan to pay for your friend's professional time and advice, even if she's enthusiastic about her job. "If she doesn't bring it up first, say, 'How are we going to take care of the business side of this? Will you draw up a contract that outlines what you'll do and how much you'll charge?'" suggests Barsotti. That way, you won't be surprised when the bill comes. If your pal offers a little decorating advice, helps with your taxes, or draws up a will for you for free, a gracious way to show your thanks is with a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant or an invitation to your house for dinner.