Dear Urban Diplomat: How do we tell our friends that we’re not going to work (for free) on their new home any longer?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
Our friends bought their first house for $100K over their budget, and it needs a ton of work. My husband is a contractor and I’m an interior designer, and it seems their financial plan is to lean on us for free labour. We’ve spent four of the last six weekends working on their house, and they always make awkward jokes about exploiting us. We laughed at first, but now we really do feel exploited. We’re at a point where we want compensation or we’re just going to stop helping altogether. How should we broach the subject?
—Labour Unrest, Upper Beach
Before you starting picketing outside their home, consider that they’re likely suffering from post-traumatic purchase disorder that’s overriding their sense of decorum. Asking for money would be terribly tacky, not to mention a waste of your time, since you know they don’t have any money to give. Your best course of action is to let them know that the next few months will be hectic at work and they won’t be able to count on you. That way, they won’t expect your assistance, and you’ll be free to offer it when it suits you, without resentment—or an invoice.
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