My last post was the financial friendship equation. Sharing my thoughts on the topic of finances and friendships, I thought I’d share how money has influenced my own friendships.
Some of my friends call me cheap. (Not in the way that relates to intimate partners… I wish! Lol) It is fair to say I value having savings in the bank so I can book an impromptu cruise here and there, and or pay for random expenses like a plumber for instance. I plan a budget spreadsheet up to a year in advance -to the dollar, with in-comings and outgoings. (Leaving room for changes and keeping an eye on future goals and how they are impacted by choices I make today.) I pour way more money into the mortgage than required, and also have an investment property as a retirement plan in lieu of super; because I am not in paid employment and need to plan for our future if I want to stay that way. (I do! Lol) All of this means that as a general rule if I see you I will not be willing/wanting to spend much more than $20. (Sometimes I will break this rule, when and where I choose.) I will usually order the lunch special and drink water. I will use free or discount vouchers as often as I can. I will plan events around these if I can! I will pre-purchase discounted member movie tickets at half the price and bring my own snacks and drinks. I will use deal sites and other online deals. I save up credit card points and supermarket loyalty points to buy people gifts with at Christmas. I write a detailed shopping list with the amounts things cost and stick to a fortnightly food budget.
It is fair to say, that if I value savings and you value material possessions you will probably be comfortable spending more than I am as a general rule. It doesn’t make me right and you wrong, it just makes us different. This is an important distinction if we are going to be financially compatible as friends. I understand we all make private judgements about how other people spend or don’t spend their money.… but it is not our place to verbalise these judgements or to tell someone what they can or cannot afford. I hate being told what I can afford, and my friends often hate being told what they can’t. We are all adults making our own choices… and suffering our own consequences. OUR OWN being the key phrase. We need to own our own unique choices, consequences, priorities and responsibilities. Accountability ladies!
I won’t lend a friend money and our friendship will be healthier if they don’t put me in that position of asking and then resent me for it when I refuse. I will almost NEVER offer to lend them money either!
I do sound selfish and ungenerous don’t I? The thing is, I’m really not. While I won’t pay for someone every time, I have no problem paying for them of my own accord. My point is that friends shouldn’t expect me to. I won’t invite someone to events they can’t afford and expect them to pay; I will keep our catch up’s as cheap as possible, free if need be. For us both, regardless of your status! If I have a two for one, I will offer to let a friend have the free meal, or at least go halves in the paid one. I will let someone use movie tickets if I have them or I will invite friends out for spa days, cruises or other activities for 2 that I have purchased in return for only the company of a good friend and a shared experience. While I will generally not offer to lend you money… I may offer to give you money…. Which is an entirely different concept and if you are too proud to accept I will not force the issue.
I actually do have a pretty relaxed attitude about money with most of my friends and I try not to calculate the currency we have spent, together, individually, or on one another! I don’t offer to pay for anything I can’t afford. If you offer I expect you can afford it too and do not expect this means one of us necessarily “owes the other next time” as such.
However; this relaxed attitude has also caused me problems in the past too when it was with the wrong friend and I didn’t consider her needs and values. This is important! This one friend in particular felt my paying for things was a power play and that she “owed” me in some way because I often paid for things. This was a reflection of her values as she felt her sense of independence was diminished by my generosity. She was unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the concept of giving to give instead of to receive and didn’t want to feel like she was sponging off me or using me. (I never felt she was.) I remember asking her to certain events and her saying she would love to go however didn’t have the cash. When I said it was ok because I would pay, (preferring not to attend solo) I think she then felt both obligated to attend, and resentful towards me. In essence it left a transnational aftertaste as though I bought her friendship and neither of us enjoyed that dynamic. I never intended to upset her and genuinely didn’t even consider the idea that she was actually using finances as a way to avoid my company. Awkward! Lol The funny thing is that I remember plenty of times where she paid too, and I never really noticed nor cared if there was an imbalance. I probably wasn’t grateful enough for her liking when she did pay in hindsight, considering it no big deal, when actually for her, it was significant. I tend to think that if you are friends for long enough it will all even out in the end anyway. Somehow I don’t think she saw it that way and I never should have assumed she did.
With that in mind, I have had to learn which of my friends will take more than I am happy or willing to give, (money, time, babysitting… and learn to practise saying no to them.) I have learned which of my friends feels it is fiercely important that she pays for herself to the cent, (no more and no less) and which of them feels similarly to me in that they will offer to pay when they want to and I will offer to pay when I want to and the rest of the time we will pay for ourselves or just split the bill 50 50. Even if I did order a cocktail but didn’t have any garlic bread! Lol I know who enjoys lots of small thoughtful gifts, who enjoys being spoiled, who prefers one more quality gift, and who prefers to keep the gifts under $30 (and just one please) and those who don’t like gifts at all either preferring an experience or just a nice card. These are important things to know, both for your boundaries and hers. We should discuss money. I don’t think it is a taboo that should be avoided in friendships. I do think we should learn how our friends operate so we can make sure we keep things comfortable.
About half of the fractured friendships stories people have shared with me have involved money. I have lost friends from not giving what they felt entitled to and from over giving. I have misread situations and indeed been let down by friends who didn’t make paying me back a priority, or who deceived me into paying when it later became clear they never had any intention of paying for themselves. I have been used by people who exploited my generous nature, and I have been accused of using money to be controlling and hold power over someone….I have been judged both for what I spend and on whom and equally what I didn’t spend….
The truth is we will never agree with someone 100% on financial matters, and that’s ok. Learn to read your audience and act accordingly; with caution and honest communication and respect. If in doubt just pay your own way and stay within your budget. It’s financial not personal, so keep it that way. I value my friendships and I value my finances and I value keeping them separate! I’d appreciate it if you don’t judge our friendship on the amount of money I spend on you or with you and rather on the amount of time I spend on you or with you. Time is the currency of friendship, not money.
Your Best Friend ForNever