Dear Penny: I’d Rather Have a Root Canal Than Blow Money at My Friends’ Online Parties

A woman seems frustrated as she looks at her laptop computer.
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Dear Penny,

What is the most tactful way to let friends know that you want them to stop inviting you to their direct marketing online “parties” on Facebook?

In just the past year, I've been invited to leggings parties, jewelry parties, makeup parties and kitchen product parties. And when someone books a party off of a host (because, of course, buying isn't enough — you are also encouraged to book your own party so your host can get even more free stuff), that person will often reinvite people from the original host's guest list!

I don't need or want any of these items, but I always feel obligated to buy SOMETHING because my name is on the guest list, and everyone can see whether I buy or not. And some party hosts actually post your name for all to see if you haven't accepted the invitation or purchased an item.

It's even worse than being at a Tupperware party where you had to fill out your order form in front of everyone. It's intimidating and clearly designed to guilt you into buying.

I don't want to offend my friends, but I'm retired now, so my income has decreased dramatically, and I'm also at the stage of my life where I want to get rid of items I don't use, not add to them.

I have never hosted a direct marketing party, either in person or online, so there is no quid pro quo here. I just want to stop throwing away money on stuff that I don't need in order not to upset or disappoint my friends.

Online Party Pooper

Social media has made it especially hard to hide from independent sales consultants of all types. Instead of hiding behind the couch when they knock on your door, screening your calls, and wearing a hat and sunglasses inside Walmart (hi), you now have to do all that and more. Like turning off read receipts on your text messages and carefully avoiding unintended taps when browsing Facebook on your phone.

You can’t even waste your time in peace without running the risk of getting invited to a JamChef Nail Art Cooking Fitness Party.

I have prepared for you a two-step plan to freedom.

Step 1: Ignore everything. If you received the invitation via Facebook, you can even unfollow the event or, if you’re so daring, remove yourself from the guest list. Let us raise our voices in praise of Facebook for doing this one good thing for us.

Step 2: For when you can’t take the invitation-ignoring guilt anymore:

Repeat after me one or more of the following statements.

“Thank you for including me, but I’m not interested.”

“Good luck with your event, but I can’t attend.”

“Thanks, but I’m only buying what Marie Kondo is selling right now.”

“This doesn’t fit into my shopping list right now. Have a great time!”

Whatever you do, do not apologize. Never apologize. Trust me when I say independent sales consultants are not interested in your business. They’re interested in getting business, period. The ones who really are your friends won’t be offended if you don’t take part in their endeavor. And if you back away slowly, the rest won’t even notice you.

Have an awkward money dilemma? Send it to [email protected].

Disclaimer: Chosen questions and featured answers will appear in The Penny Hoarder’s “Dear Penny” column. I won’t be able to answer every single letter (I can only type so fast!). We reserve the right to edit and publish your questions. Don’t worry — your identity will remain anonymous. I don’t have a psychology, accounting, finance or legal degree, so my advice is for general informational purposes only. I do, however, promise to give you honest advice based on my own insights and real-life experiences.

Editor’s note: Letters are edited for style and clarity.