We all know friends are important. In fact, they are essential to our happiness. They are one of the things that break up the monotony of the day to day, they are something to look forward to at the end of a working day or a shoulder to lean on at the end of a very long weekend.
But what effect do our friends have on our finances?
Sadie Morris from Saving Advice, suggests an interesting idea; that she is surrounded by people who are debt free, which helps to keep her debt free too. After all, our friends are people who share similar goals and motivations to ourselves, so it makes sense that if being debt free is important to you, you’ll probably know people who care about it too.
Note from editor: Alex here, I thought I would quickly drop a note in to say I read an interesting article recently where by apparently your average earnings/salary is likely going to increase if you hang around people who are also motivated to succeed. This means that the more successful the people you hang around, the greater the chance you have to earn more. Interesting huh!
The reverse is an interesting idea- does it make saving difficult if you surround yourself with people who don’t care about their finances? I guess we all have examples of when the answer to that question is yes. It makes thing difficult if you have friends who want to go to the pub every night of the week, or buy embarrassingly expensive presents.
The movie Friends with Money focuses on the tension that being with (or without) can cause. It follows a group of friends, three of whom have money and one of whom doesn’t. It’s an interesting watch, because it’s so easy to empathise with the characters. Who hasn’t been the one, strapped for cash, with friends paying for you and yet resenting them for it? Or been the friend with a bit of extra money, who doesn’t mind shelling out at first, and yet comes to find a bit of a burden? It’s a difficult topic to navigate.
Personally, I would never become friends with someone (or end a friendship) based on their ideas about money. Some of my friends have money, others don’t, and it really doesn’t affect the quality of either friendship. But here are a couple of take-home points on how to deal with friends and money.
Keep it reasonable
Unless you’re all multi-millionaires, keeping events or get-togethers reasonably priced shouldn’t be too hard. The idea that it has to be expensive to be nice is a myth. After all, the point is that you like each other’s company. In the end, will you really care if the meal only costs $20 and the tablecloths are paper?
It is a lot of effort, but hosting dinners at home is intimate and significantly cheaper, especially if people take turns. It’s always so much fun to have everyone over to your place, and hang out. To make it even cheaper, get everyone to bring a plate of something.
Giving presents is a lovely idea, but it can often highlight who has money and who doesn’t. The best way to navigate it may just be to ban the practice all together. It’s the people, not the presents, which you care about anyway.
At the end of the day, accepting that some people want to be generous and some people can’t afford it is an important skill. If someone wants to spend money, the best thing to do is thank them and pay them back in a different way. You might find that you gravitate to people with a similar relationship to money as you. If not, the above tips are a way to enjoying each other’s company, not harping on the cost.