The key is to know what you'll say in advance, says Ramsey. If a friend suggests attending an expensive event, you could simply be honest and say, "I've already spent so much this month," and then offer an alternative. Some people won't understand, but most will. "It comes back to people being more mindful of others and the fact that not everyone can afford the same situation," she adds. "Being selfish is not good manners."
The point of getting together is usually more about the social interaction than the actual event, but if you can't afford something, back out and ask if the other person can do something at a later time that's more within your budget. "Pressuring people to spend more than they are comfortable with is bad manners," says Holdforth. "So don't feel obliged if you don't comply. Don't feel cheap. Instead, feel good. Say 'no' to spending more than you feel comfortable spending, and remember you are being a good citizen, managing your financial situation responsibly."
In other words, you don't have to sabotage your financial success by accepting these invitations, but be honest and tactful when you decline.
On the flip side, if you're the one with all the wealth, you could offer to foot the bill for an expensive dinner, but do it too often and you might risk making the other person feel poor. Better to do it for a specific event, such as a birthday, Ramsey says, but even that's risky if the other person feels he will have to reciprocate.
In the end, the best course of action is to put yourself in the other person's shoes, and then make him feel comfortable. After all, that's what good manners are all about. "Money is often a sensitive social issue," says Holdforth. "Respect yourself and other people by staying within your boundaries, never trying to compete or show off with money, and reserving your greatest generosity for those less well-off."