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Friends and Money: Maintaining Friendships When Incomes Differ
Friends and Money: Maintaining Friendships When Incomes Differ
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Friends and Money: Maintaining Friendships When Incomes Differ

Money254
Sheila Brenda Andoi
January 13, 2022

As you grow older, some of the friends you had on campus will get employed faster than others, some will get married and start families and others will start businesses.

It then dawns on you that taking different pathways in life also means that financial capabilities and money values will differ too. And many times, these disparities can easily make friends drift apart.

Money was cited as a source of stress in friendships by 44% of participants in a Bank of America survey dated 2017. According to the responses obtained from the survey, friends would prefer to chat about practically everything else than talk about money. 

It was further noted that money is especially more sensitive when two or more people who were formerly on the same footing find themselves in drastically different financial situations.

When you realize that every lunch date with your friends requires money, every wedding necessitates the purchase of a gift, and every baby shower also requires you to part with some cash yet you are not financially capable to do that, it becomes very stressful.

However, this does not have to be your reality. It doesn't imply that you and your buddies can't maintain good friendships just because your financial values or earnings vary. You shouldn't also have to disregard your financial values and capabilities in order to maintain your friendships as well. 

Here’s how you can hack it…

Discuss it Openly and Honestly.

Dr. Lena Pellandini-Simanyi, a professor and researcher, says that people usually approach finances with their friends in one of two ways: either they avoid discussing money at all, or they can go for complete openness and discuss it freely. 

She adds that both ways can be both good and bad but it is advisable to address financial concerns with your friends if you feel that your connection is being harmed by differences in money values or financial inequities.

When you talk honestly about money with your friends, spending scenarios can get easier. If your friends clearly know that you are saving for a project or supporting your parents financially, they will be more understanding if you decline a road trip or an expensive party.

“Money can be a touchy subject. If you want to keep the talk light with your friends, discuss it when you are out shopping or when you are having your normal conversations.” Aja Evans, a New York-based financial therapist, recommends.

Money can represent your personal values, views, and objectives and even if people aren't aware of it, childhood experiences have a great impact on their attitudes about money.

So when discussing money with your friends, keep that in mind. It's also important to remember that it's not just about the money. Your friendship matters more. 

Accept Each Other’s Financial Differences

Friends who share your financial position and opinions are scarce.  It's hard to find friends with the very same monetary values or paychecks.

Accepting your differences is the very first step toward creating working friendships. Accept that every person contributes something distinctive to the friendship and keep in mind why you started being friends in the beginning. 

It will be easier to keep your friendships regardless of your financial differences when you accept one another’s financial capabilities and values.

Adopt a Frugal Mentality.

Frugality does not mean that you will have to turn down every invite or plan that your friends might have. 

When your friends make an offer to attend a concert, one of the simplest ways to keep your friendships while spending less money would be to provide cheaper alternatives. You never know, they may actually prefer your option to an expensive one. 

Pamela Yellen, a financial security expert and author of The Bank On Yourself Revolution says, "When recommending restaurants or things to do together, assume your friends enjoy frugality. Be the first to toss forth a couple of low-cost (or no-cost) ideas.”

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a financial psychology expert and the host of the "Breaking Money Silence" podcast adds that evaluating your priorities, and the activities you would want to engage in versus those you'd prefer to forgo to save money, is also important.

While at it, also ensure that you are still able to play an active role in your friends' lives. Remember that even if you cannot join your friends in doing some things, you can text or call and keep checking up on them frequently.

Plan When to Spend and When Not To

Once in a while decide when and how to treat yourself alongside your friends either for dinner, an event, or even a getaway. The secret is to plan ahead, budget, and put aside some money. 

This will allow you to join your friends in some activities they are doing so that you do not completely miss out on everything and because it's a scheduled expense, you won't have to harm your finances or negate your money values.


If you keep this in mind and plan ahead, you will not need to say "No" to every invitation that is beyond your price range. It will also prepare you and your friends on your individual plans and hence provide alternatives for you.

Your relationships are important, so ensure they can withstand the peaks and troughs of your individual finances.

Maintain Your Own Money Values

Do not succumb to peer influence and spend more than you can especially when it compromises your financial objectives. You can feel pressured if your friends are purchasing expensive items, traveling, or renting expensive houses when you aren't.

Fight the pressure to conform, more so if it means sacrificing your principles or your finances. If you do not resist, you will begin to detest not only your financial condition but you may also start avoiding your friends as well.

Let your friends know where you stand, as well as your objectives and ideals. They will understand if they truly are your friends.

Closing Thoughts

Friendships can be harmed by financial differences, especially as people get older. It doesn't have to be that way, though. Friendships that are built to last can withstand financial pressure. 

Great friends are one of the things that money cannot buy. True friends won’t mind whether you are spending the weekend at home or shopping. 

Your friendships could be a cherished commitment that lasts for years if you can discover a method to talk openly about your financial situations and find mutual ground to operate on.

You’re a lot more valuable than the amount on your paycheck.

Sheila Brenda Andoi is a communicator, journalist, editor, and writer passionate about human-interest stories. You can find her on Twitter @sheilaandoi

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