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Don’t Let Money Ruin Friendships

Don’t let your trust-fund friends dictate what you spend. Learn the dos and don’ts of keeping friends with money.

It’s another Saturday night, and those free weekend wireless minutes are coming in handy as you make plans with your friends. The only problem: your lawyer and trust-fund friends want to follow up a four-star meal with a night of skipping velvet ropes (and outrageous covers). What do you do when your friends’ idea of a night out will cost your whole entertainment budget for the month?

It’s easy to forget that everybody—even our own best friends—are in different financial situations. And while it’s not polite to discuss the details of money, it’s not polite to ignore the big picture. That said, it’s also a-okay to speak up when your social life is stretching your budget.

Do Speak Up

It’s not easy to turn down social plans for financial reasons—it can even be embarrassing. But the better you become at setting a budget and sticking to it—even if means skipping a few nights out—the better you will become at managing money in all areas of life. To avoid awkward situations, make sure you discuss the night’s plans ahead of time, especially with deep-pocketed friends. If bottles of Dom are in the stars, suggest a free alternative or coolly excuse themselves.

Don’t Take Loans

There’s an old saying that goes: “If you lend money to a friend, you will lose both.” Nothing strains relationships faster than an outstanding debt. Wealthy friends may offer to pony up to keep the party going (it starts with an innocent “this round’s on me”), but the habit becomes a slippery slope if its not reciprocated. Even if they can afford it, friends frequently picking up the tab will get resentful. And even if you’re out of cash, resist saying “I’ll owe you.” Forgetting to repay even a few dollars can lead to bad blood for years to come. And if you must borrow from a friend for a more serious reason—even if it’s twenty bucks—put the loan in writing and get a witness.

Don’t Keep Up with the Jones’

If you have friends with more dough than you, chances are they’re driving a flashier car and sporting the latest trends. But it doesn’t mean you have to also just to hang out. A real friend won’t care what you drive or wear. If you find yourself craving something just because your friends have it, stop and ask yourself, what would change if I have that? Chances are, not a whole lot.

Published or updated on September 8, 2006

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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