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Life Skills 301

Advanced-level techniques for being a person.

7. Looking (and Being) Generous When You Have Less Money Than Your Friends

Do you have friends who always, always have spending money? Friends whose parents give them credit cards to just use? Friends who constantly and casually pay for things like meals and snacks and movie tickets, sometimes taking care of you in the process?

Hiya. This was—and is—me. In the past, in the present, and probably for all time. I grew up with less money than any of my friends. We weren’t flat-out broke, but I most certainly did not have casual spending money, and there was no way I could wander into a store and just purchase something like a cool T-shirt. All purchases had to be carefully plotted in advance and saved and schemed for. A lot of my friends, having always had access to plenty of money, simply did not understand that if I went to the movie, I could not go for pizza, and that was that.

It’s still like that today. I have friends who make six figures and are always ready to go out for fancy drinks, friends who casually drop $250 at Whole Foods in 20 minutes, friends who want to go to that new award-winning restaurant where entrees start at $35 because it just opened and they’re hungry and it’s Tuesday. If I say, “Umm, could we maybe go somewhere…less spendy?” they’re all over it. “Oh, I’ve got you,” they say, waving their hands in the air. “Baby, don’t worry, I’ll get you. Just come.”

That’s nice as hell, but a lot of times, it makes me feel like an asshole. I don’t want someone to “take care of me.” I don’t want to always be on the favor-receiving end. It skews the balance of our relationship in a way that makes me feel like I owe the person covering me something, but I can’t afford to ever make good on this debt or to right the balance between us. I feel this even though I know my friends don’t think I owe them anything, and that they’re offering to pay out of total friendliness and love. It’s just that it doesn’t always feel so great to me, in my head. Know what I mean?

If you have wealthier friends who are constantly doing you monetary favors, I have a way to feel better, seem generous, and balance the friendship scales: Spring for the small stuff.

When the opportunity arises, use your limited funds to pay for little things, without announcing it or making it a thing in any way. If your friend with a great allowance constantly buys your lunch, buy her coffees when y’all go out. If someone insists on getting your movie ticket, hop quick like a bunny and pay for the popcorn. Even tiny things, like buying two orange juices from the vending machine and silently handing one to your friend, make a huge difference.

These are small things you can do to show that someone’s generosity does not go unappreciated, and believe me, your friends will notice. You are showing that, while you may have less $$$, you are willing to share what you have, and that makes for a balanced and mutually generous friendship.

And if you don’t have any money to spring for the small stuff? It’s really OK. Don’t be afraid to say sometimes, “Hey, I’d love to do that, but I can’t afford it, and I don’t want you paying for me all the time,” and then stick to your guns. On the occasions when you do accept a favor, thank the friend who spotted you and try to think of a way to help them. Maybe you’re really, really good at algebra, which that person sucks at. Study with them. Maybe you’re just an awesome listener who gives amazing hugs. You can still pay them back in your own way, free of charge.

8. Asking a Stranger Out

You notice a cute new person working behind the counter at a your regular coffee shop. Or you see a cool someone at a library/concert/reading/museum/restaurant. They’re in your line of vision, and suddenly, BAM! All of your radiant energy is directed like a laser beam on this person who you don’t actually know. OH MY LORD, NOW YOU KNOW WHAT PERFECTION LOOKS LIKE. You want to talk to this person; you are filled with a desire to know them. But they might leave at any moment! And you may never see them again! This is your one chance in life to ask this person out. Do it. DOOOOOO IT.

“But Krista!” (That’s you.) “I don’t know anything about them! What if they’ve got a girlfriend or boyfriend already? What if they’re gay? What if they’re not gay? What if they’re asexual? What if they just get hit on every day (OBVIOUSLY THEY DO, LOOK AT THEM!!!) and are totally sick of it and want nothing more than to be left in peace?”

Guess what? I DON’T CARE. These are all useless details, clouding your shining brilliant nerve. Get ready to become instantly bolder, because I’m going to teach you how to ask a stranger out in the quickest, politest way possible, with way fewer scary rejection possibilities than usual. You won’t have to have any prior knowledge of the object of your sudden affection’s situation—and the ball will stay COMPLETELY in their no-pressure court.

Here’s what you do:

1. Scan your crush-target for headphones/work/body language that says DO NOT APPROACH. Don’t ever bother someone who’s wearing headphones (aka the international sign for “leave me alone”), who’s hunched over a book or a laptop, or who looks super-busy, like a café worker who’s got a big line. Would you like that? ’Course not. Respect people’s body language, space, and time.

2. If you’ve determined that now is possibly an OK time, gather all your stuff. Get totally ready to go. Use the restroom, put your coat on, everything. Asking someone out will be the last thing you do before leaving this place.

3. Find a slip of paper and a pen. Write down your name, your phone number or email address, and a short description of who you are and what you look like. Example: “Krista – the blond girl with cat-eye glasses who asked you out at Swim Café. You can reach me at kristaisawesome@fakeemail.com.” Be brief! What you are about to do will be memorable.

4. Take a deep breath and approach this dreamboat.

5. BE BRAVE! Smile and say, “Hi, my name’s [your name here]. I don’t know what your situation is, but I think you’re really cute. I’d love to hang out sometime if you want. Here’s my info.”

6. Hand them the pre-prepared slip of paper with your information on it. Smile again. You are a brave and confident person who has no fear!

7. VANISH. Seriously. Vanishing is the secret to asking a stranger out without too much awkwardness. If they try to talk to you, cheerfully say, “Sorry—I have to go!” One more smile, then get the hell out of there. This makes it so there is absolutely NO PRESSURE on your new crush to respond to you. They have a way to contact you. If they’re interested, they’ll get in touch. If they aren’t, who cares? No harm done/no feelings invested.

Guys, this really works. It does! I’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve also taught this to every shy friend I’ve ever had, with excellent and sometimes even astonishing results.

Go get ’em, killer. ♦


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  • soviet_kitsch January 3rd, 2014 3:11 PM

    KRISTA. the last piece of advice was perfect and omg if i see the cute boy at the bookstore again i’m gonna take it.

    • tockoftheclocks January 4th, 2014 2:01 PM

      YES to this! I spent 2 whole hours revising opposite the most perfect specimen of a human being at the library and when he went I just couldn’t carry on with my English essay – he was my muse.


  • MissKnowItAll January 3rd, 2014 3:31 PM

    I had decided that 2014 was the year that I’m going to go out and fearlessly ask cute guys and girls out and now I’ve found the key to doing it and I’m totally gonna use it now. Thank you so much for this Krista!

  • dojo45 January 3rd, 2014 3:31 PM

    Oh my God yaaasssss thank you so much you guys are lifesavers!

  • flocha January 3rd, 2014 3:35 PM

    Krista you are such a magical and incredible person and the only bad thing about this edition of life skills is that I seriously needed it at New Years agh


  • o-girl January 3rd, 2014 3:38 PM


    i will use the last method until the end of my days omg also the email one thank u thank u

  • kenny22 January 3rd, 2014 3:50 PM

    you should make a rookie calendar 2014, yeah?

    • Anaheed January 3rd, 2014 4:32 PM

      We didn’t make one this year but we’ve got some other merch in the works.

  • mangointhesky January 3rd, 2014 3:58 PM

    I’m ashamed to say that I needed life skill number one. Oh well. Thanks rookie!


  • kaworude January 3rd, 2014 3:58 PM

    KRISTA THIS IS GOOD THIS IS SOO GOOD AND SO USEFUL – these methods will save my butt so many times and in so many ways

  • Alepisaurus January 3rd, 2014 4:06 PM

    “What if they’ve got a girlfriend or boyfriend already? What if they’re gay? What if they’re not gay? What if they’re asexual?”

    Thank you for summing this up, this is pretty literally my thought process for every cute person I see.

    But, what should I do if I’ve been talking to them for a minute already?

    • periwinkle_dreams January 4th, 2014 12:08 AM

      My humble opinion:
      If it looks like you’d actually both have free time to talk more, maybe you could do that. If you’re feeling too nervous for a full-blown conversation or have somewhere to be (or feel like they’re too busy to talk, etc) – whip out a piece of paper/napkin + writing utensil and give them your name/number. While you do that, say “I’ve got to run, but I enjoyed meeting you and I’d love to talk again sometime.” If you’d like to stay, you could ask, “You seem like a really cool person; I’d love to get to know you better. [or "I'd love to talk to you more about X" or "I'd love to hear your opinions on Y"]. Do you have a few minutes to sit and talk?” If they seem at all hesitant, make your exit. :)

  • lucide January 3rd, 2014 4:06 PM

    I feel so warm and good and safe just being here reading Rookie in my dark room. I love you Rookies, you are the bests.

  • grace elizabeth January 3rd, 2014 4:09 PM

    Krista, is there any chance of you being able to write these more than once a year? This kind of advice is what I really look forward to reading on Rookie :)

  • sofia the weird January 3rd, 2014 4:15 PM

    Since I am as awkward as they come I got used to neglecting social norms regarding social interaction. If you leave me alone with someone I don’t know I will just say the weirdest thing that comes into my mind. Nothing offensive of course. Instead of the usual “How are you doing?” I just jump into “Hi. You know, when I was little I slept with a doll because I thought that if I didn’t, she would kill me in my sleep. How about your favourite toys?”. Although a little strange I found that it makes people feel at ease…

  • anaisabel13 January 3rd, 2014 4:16 PM

    THIS IS SO GOOD and useful. Numbers seven and eight will be used, like, today. Thanks Krista!


  • AngstyTheBrave January 3rd, 2014 4:21 PM

    Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. I now know how to ask a stranger out. And how to make good small talk (because I sort of awkwardly go for stupid “what’s your favourite…?” questions).

  • Laurets January 3rd, 2014 4:24 PM

    I needed this in my life so. Much. The last one is AMAZING. Krista, you’re perfect. Thank you thank you thank you ♥♥♥

  • Emmie January 3rd, 2014 4:24 PM

    I felt butterflies just reading that last piece of advice but I’m totally gonna use it!!

  • deemary January 3rd, 2014 4:29 PM

    oh no, now i really have to ask the guy at the liquor store out. thanks krista!

  • Shayd January 3rd, 2014 4:42 PM

    Oh my gosh! The asking out a stranger will come in handy! I am sadly the person who sees a cute stranger, and hopes I catch them staring at me! (never happens) Another fantastic Rookie article that made my life better! <3

    • julalondon January 3rd, 2014 11:16 PM

      Hahaha, I do that too..they also NEVER approach me then.. Krista, this is great; please do more of them than once a year!!

  • eyelet January 3rd, 2014 5:02 PM

    Thank you Krista– I love life skills so much!!

  • paashaas21 January 3rd, 2014 5:30 PM


  • Kourtney January 3rd, 2014 5:49 PM

    I NEEDED THIS!!! Especially the one about gmail. Ugggggh, I could’ve so used that tip yesterday (I sent my friend two of my design projects that I’m really embarrassed about now) but totally useful for future reference!! And I really want to use the last tip some day :))

  • doris January 3rd, 2014 6:12 PM

    What if the person is a creep and sends you gross/scary things via email? Or what if your email has your full name in it and they try to stalk you? I know that’s the chance you take with a lot of people, but when you haven’t even spoken a word to this person you have no idea how they could react. And maybe I’m in the minority, but I would be pretty weirded out if someone just handed me a note with their contact info letting me know they’ve been staring at me the whole time.

    • Isil January 3rd, 2014 7:13 PM

      then you can just write your phone number and first name. if you have multiple emails, you can use the one without your full name in it. it would be safer i guess. or if you pass by a lot of cute people then you can create an entire email account about it haha. but i don’t think it’s necesarry. if you use an email that doesn’t include your full name, you can always block that person. most of the email provider-server-things (i don’t know what they’re called asdjhf.) have this ability. and in my country it’s available to block phone numbers, too. so i think it would be okay as long as you just give your first name.

      and yeah, you may be weirded out (me too) but there’s a possibility that you may like that person. maybe they’re so cute and blushed when they were giving you that piece of paper, and you may like that etc. that’s why they’re giving you their info, if you are weirded out, you won’t call them. if you like them, you’ll call them. you won’t probably see this person ever again anyways.

  • MegW January 3rd, 2014 6:16 PM

    I love this series. The tips about being generous and asking people out are THE BOMB.

  • Cerise January 3rd, 2014 6:22 PM

    YESSSS. Krista, I was SO hoping you’d write another life skills article. So much good advice, especially the first and last bits–I am usually terrible at going up and talking to people I don’t know, but these should help. :)

  • lexilikes January 3rd, 2014 6:58 PM

    Krista that is pure genius <3 simple yet shows elegance and confidence!


  • Isil January 3rd, 2014 7:01 PM

    I love love love love LOVE this series. They are really working and these ones were specifically my problems. Especially the ones about small talking and being broke :( Seriously, this series are amazing. Can’t you guys make it more general? I love Krista of course, but if everyone shares their life skills we would be learning more of them :D like every month or something.


  • piisaa January 3rd, 2014 7:35 PM

    I literally got an adrenaline rush just READING the ask-a-stranger-out part. Oh lord. I WANT TO DO THAT BUT ALSO I WANT TO NEVER DO THAT ohgoshohgoshohgosh.

    (Also this life skills series is very very awesome)

  • VB January 3rd, 2014 7:46 PM

    Krista you are literally a genius seriously you should have your own show.

  • lovetherain January 3rd, 2014 7:57 PM

    Everyone is excited about the last one (I am too!), BUT THE DIY WRINKLE RELEASE OMG YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.

    I go to a highschool with uniforms, and we wear polos, and I cannot tell you how wrinkly those get seemingly of their own, nonexistent volition.


  • spudzine January 3rd, 2014 8:17 PM

    I actually have problems with the first situation(getting out of talking with people I dislike). If someone’s being rude to me, I don’t know what to do. Do I tell them off with the risk of making a scene, or do I just politely walk away without defending myself? If I walk away, then I have a fear that they’ll talk about me behind my back and say rude things about me. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I feel unconfident with either of the approaches I just mentioned. It’s something I have to work on :/


  • Clementine Rose January 3rd, 2014 8:30 PM

    Once again, Krista, you have SAVED. MY. LIFE. I love reading and rereading Life Skills. Thank you for all these great tips! I was particularly impressed by, ahem, the Ask a Stranger Out segment. I’m absolutely and completely afraid of all boys, but this will really help! Thanks again! You’ve made my day.

  • Stevie January 3rd, 2014 8:32 PM

    it’s handling situations politely but not necessarily putting on a forced persona

  • Sophii January 3rd, 2014 8:45 PM

    Wow. Advice likes this makes me feel like I’ve spent my entire life making things so much more difficult than they could be! The last one is beautiful oh my. I see cute strangers all the time omg. Such fab life tips. Thanks so so much


  • umi January 3rd, 2014 8:53 PM

    i started homeschool in the sixth grade and ever since then i’ve become incredibly inadequate in the social interaction department.i’m gonna use the last one to maybe make friends.i cant ask people out,i’ve never done it,but i’m imagining bad bad things.

  • lyssagrltx January 3rd, 2014 9:18 PM

    This so helpful. I’m admitting this I’m socially awkward. The small talk how to meet strangers THE NUMBER THING IS AMAZING I’M GOING TO USE THAT. Thanks so much Krista.


  • emily_hunter January 3rd, 2014 9:38 PM

    Ugh. Rookie is such a gift in my life. Great stuff, Krista!

  • Ozma January 3rd, 2014 10:10 PM

    All of this is so great! Thanks Krista!

  • Violet January 3rd, 2014 11:16 PM

    I need all this skills !!!
    Wishing I had all of those YEARS AGO ! ! !
    Thank you Krista, you’re fantastic, absolutely.
    Love, V

  • diniada13 January 3rd, 2014 11:50 PM

    I really need all these skills! Especially the first one, I’ve always wondered how people do it. Thanks, Krista! x


  • lotusmarina January 4th, 2014 1:23 AM

    In all those girly whirly oh-my-gosh-people-can-be-so-self-obssessed magazines, the tutorials they write are no help. Zilch, nada (i.e. Q: How to prevent yourself from blushing in front of your crush A: Hold your breath, but still try and look cute. ‘Cause that’s really going to work.)

    But THIS man, this was amazing. I’m so glad because these tips are ACTUALLY so new and helpful and wow.

    Thanks Krista for this <3

  • strawberryhair January 4th, 2014 2:40 AM

    Kristaaaaaaaaaa you are such a goddess and now I feel like I’m just all round BETTER AT BEING A PERSON. Thank you.

  • soretudaaa January 4th, 2014 8:34 AM

    oh my god, the last piece of advice totally changed my life, I have to start doing this asap.

  • karis January 4th, 2014 12:08 PM

    YES – the last piece of advice is amazing! definitely using it the next time i see a cute boy

  • Lillypod January 4th, 2014 12:21 PM

    i’m definitely the betty draper of small talk because i don’t do that because EW

  • flightdust January 4th, 2014 1:12 PM

    This is brilliant THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

  • pizzaface January 4th, 2014 1:19 PM

    Thanks wow! Great article. I think the Small Talk topic is very interesting, just because i’m so bad at it. I wish I could just follow a class for small talking, and this already helped me further!

    I always like it when you’re in an awkward scene where you are SUPPOSED to small talk, but the other person is a socially awkward wallflower too, and you are both sunken in deep thoughts, and no one even cares about the missing small talk anymore!

  • pizzaface January 4th, 2014 1:31 PM



  • TheCyanideInNightlock January 4th, 2014 6:39 PM

    KRISTA IS GOD. No, seriously.

    That or she’s a genius.

    Or both.

    Maybe both.


  • talullahbunny January 5th, 2014 2:56 PM

    Ummmmm okay so that Gmail undo sent mail feature oh my god than you in advance for the millions of times this is gonna save my proverbial bacon

  • Kelly K January 5th, 2014 3:53 PM

    If you’re thinking ahead about how you don’t want to leave internet footprints then you can use incognito mode. (At least, I know Chrome offers it)

  • Peanutpug January 5th, 2014 9:17 PM

    I’ve just realised that I always ask “so, what did YOU do today?” in awkwardy small talk situations! I feel very accomplished now I know that it’s a Life Skill and I’m doin it riiight. I’m gonna challenge myself now to ask a stranger out ! :)

  • Moonshoes January 6th, 2014 12:05 AM

    ugh praise you for writing this


  • aprilmaybe January 6th, 2014 4:28 AM

    this is so great! i really loved the “being generous section.” i honestly can relate so much and now i have the perfect ways to return my friendship, thank you soooo much!

  • TinyWarrior January 6th, 2014 6:53 PM

    Kinda far out, but I think it would be cool if you took all of these Life Skills 101 articles and turned them into a mini book? Like one small enough to carry around in a purse, say the side of a crossword puzzle book! I know I would definitely buy a copy for myself, and ones for friends, too. :)

  • Isabellla January 7th, 2014 4:40 AM

    YES amazing !!! I love u Krista! <3 :)

  • Lena_hyuga January 7th, 2014 5:15 AM

    The last piece of advice was seriously awesome! It made me feel more confident. Definitely gonna try it. Thanks :)

  • Mary the freak January 7th, 2014 1:59 PM

    SO CUTE! Krista i love you.<3


  • nana January 7th, 2014 5:08 PM

    Better than Google.


  • Blythe January 7th, 2014 10:29 PM

    If they’re asexual, it’s likely they’ll be flattered and maybe even interested in a romantic relationship, actually.

  • Hazel January 8th, 2014 1:00 AM

    On the topic of erasing your internet fingerprints, I think deleting your web and search history on google is good too! https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/465?hl=en

  • biankaberta07 January 8th, 2014 5:15 PM


  • TessaTheTeenageWitch January 11th, 2014 7:59 AM

    Unless you’re purely looking for sex, you should let the person you think might be asexual know that you they’re cute, too! Lots of ace folk are romantic want a romantic relationship!!! This is because sex and romance aren’t the same thing, and so a disinterest in participating in sex is not automatically a disinterest in romance!

    Otherwise, this article is ACTUALLY THE BEST THE WRINKLE THING OH MY ??!?!

  • RisainSanFrancisca January 15th, 2014 12:06 PM

    THIS MAY BE THE BEST THING I’VE EVER READ THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! and since I read rookie regularly that’s saying a lot :) I love you krista!!!


  • 3LL3NH January 19th, 2014 6:02 PM

    My question is, how do you ask someone you don’t know to hang out without it giving the impression of asking them out…?

  • January 25th, 2014 3:46 AM

    This is so great. I get so tired of teen magazines’ “asking him out” advice because it always hovers around weird scripted ABCfamily-show-like scenarios that don’t happen in real life. For some reason telling him he’s a “cutie” before “sexily tossing his hair”, eyeing his friend and kissing him on the cheek with *insert brand* lip stain never was my cup of tea. The cute vanishing is easy, though.

  • Janis January 31st, 2014 1:01 AM

    PERFECT i’ve been bookmarking all the life skills on my google chrome because it’s that good

  • Anding February 7th, 2014 9:27 AM

    i suck at everything basically and this helped me a lot :D